The few memories that I have of my kindergarten days consists of the teacher telling me to share my crayons and toys with the other kids. I used to hoard these small lego-like toys and build myself this grand spaceship. However, it was always better when I build spaceships with my friends, we are able to create an entire fleet for space exploration and domination.
We learn at a very early age the essence of teamwork. We get to accomplish more (like build grand forts in the backyard). We enjoy the rewards as a group (playing well with others usually gets us ice cream afterwards). We look at each other's back when there is trouble (or that neighborhood bully is around the corner).
As working adults nothing much have changed. We get paid for the stuff that we accomplish just like ice cream (some more than others, but that's a different entry).
On the contrary, where corporate America is no longer loyal to their employees, the essence of teamwork have started to dissipate in the world of "survival of the fittest". The disposition of "If I do my stuff, I'm goood." have been creeping up in workplaces left and right.
Who is to blame? Corporate moguls who lays off people when profits starts to dwindle? Middle management who just wants work done no matter what? Individual workers who blame upper management for the corporate status quo? Don't blame Paris Hilton.
A successful team grows from jumping the stages of development and a guidance of an authentic leader (Google Bill George's article on Truly Authentic Leadership). However, the essence of teamwork starts with the individual. The individual contributing to the bigger picture without selfish motives. The individual who shares the work load and shares the spotlight at the end.
Good thing I learned how to play nice as a kid... I get to share Ice Cream with everybody at the end of the day.