Ok in order to get it clearer what I mean by team spirit and free riders and team spirit destroying behavior...
I like the concept of team. Team consists of a group of inviduals who have come together to achieve a goal. They have joined their forces because as a team they can achieve more than working as individuals. Team has a leader who manages the team and team roles and such. Team leader is in the end the person who is responsible to "clients" or whoever that the set goals are met successfully. Team members are primarily responsible to the team leader who acts as the "face" of the team. I'm also stressing that when run correctly team performs better than just the sum of its individuals. It is an oiled machine which cannot be stopped
This is why individuality must be of second concern in professional team.
Team naturally has members who have somewhat differing skill sets. Some people are probably more talented, intelligent, socially capable than others and there are differences in educational background and level of experience. Team leader should be someone who is able to assign each person a "role" where they can best utilize their talents and skills. No one should be "forced" to some role where they don't fit. This would be counterproductive. If a person doesn't have a suitable role in a team then another person should fill his/her place. It is all about finding a "role" where your own special talents are utilized to the max. In some cases the optimal role might be a "free role" not a clearly defined role. Usually it is clearly defined though and there is only room for "free role" people in some teams.
In a highly functional team the common goal is more important than individual goals. Thing about a soccer team. There are strikers who score goals. There are goal tenders who try to prevent others from scoring goals. And so on. Strikers of course want to score as many goals as possible. Goal tenders want to keep their goal "clean". These personal meters are however secondary and the primary goal is that the TEAM wins. It doesn't matter if the striker only scored one goal if the team still won. It doesn't matter if the striker scored ten goals if the team still lost. Achieving things as a team is what matters. Personal glory naturally follows from team success and the more talented players get more respect and bigger paycheck than the less talented ones. However personal achievements mean nothing if team loses. If you are the best scorer in the league but you fail to win the championship then you should not be proud since you are a loser and a failure. If you didn't score too many goals but the team still won you should be a proud champion. Team success is what matters.
So what kind of people I consider "free raiders" and "destroyers of team spirit" etc. I can give several examples but there probably is more.
Some people have a tendency to not really be part of the team. They kind of work with the team but are not really committed. They try to avoid responsibilities or too tight attachment with the team. If the team fails to achieve their goals then these people quickly distance themselves from the team and claim they are not responsible for the failure. If the team is successful they like to take credit of the success and claim victory as if they were a part of the team. I dislike this behavior. These are sort of "free raiders".
Then some people are too individualistic. They work with the team but they are mostly concerned about their own performance. They don't really care about the team goals but instead have their own goals (which I call "hidden agendas"). The team is just a place where they leech resources in order to achieve their own hidden goals. I dislike this.
Then there are the "team spirit destroyers". One example are so called "star players" i.e. very talented people who at the time of failure blame the weaker team members for the loss and at the time of success try to take all credit for themselves. This is counterproductive behavior and I would not like to have these kind of eccentric star players in my team. Ok, sometimes someone is just SO good that the rest of the team has to put up with them even if they show team spirit killing behavior. In long term I wouldn't keep this kind of person in my team though. Only when their skills are needed for something critical. A real star player is someone who does their own work perfectly but still sticks with the team both in the moment of failure and success. Everybody knows their value without them having to make a big deal about it. A team spirited star player would always say "we lost" or "we won" instead of saying "THEY lost" or "I won".
Now about the general dynamic of the team. I wish the team has open information sharing and all personal agendas are brought to the table and discussed. Individual needs are met as well as possible (both in personal career development as well as assigning team roles in a particular project). However compromises have to be made and sometimes individual is needed to do something which is not quite what they had in mind. In these cases a good team player does their best no matter what they eventually have to do. Whatever it takes for the team to win. A good team leader is needed to manage the team in this kind of situations. A strong team spirit and commitment is needed in order for individuals to make temporary personal sacrifices for the team. A strong trust must be among the team members and team leader so that people don't take advantage of each other in these moments of sacrifice.
Then another point is "crossing" roles. Helping others. If someone is more skilled and talented and can easily do their share but someone else has problems then team members should help each other. I dislike the kind of behavior "I already did my job. Now you do yours. I'm not going to help you". Generally among professionals the competence differences are not big enough for this kind of situations to be common but when rookies or new people are brought to the team then it is necessary that they are supported in the beginning instead of taking an aristocratic approach where more experienced team members separate themselves from "noobs" and instead of helping them like to mock them in order to make themselves feel better. This kind of "noob mocking" shows bad team spirit and I would not like these kind of people to be in my team.
Generally I think the team should consist of people who have similar level of talent and if that is not possible then the more talented team members should understand that this is how it is going to be and the less talented team members are full members of the team. And again team wins or loses together. This is a typical situation where "star players" who lack team spirit can totally destroy the team competence by concentrating on mocking the less talented people instead of doing double the usual effort (which would show that they have the right kind of team spirit). Again I stress the importance of a good team leader.
Ok there is some analysis on how I see teams and what kind of work environment I would feel most comfortable in. I'm not an idealist though and I understand that it is a rare case to achieve that kind of state. However I have been in a team which for quite a while was close to this and it was heaven. Eventually the lack of leadership in critical moments made that team disintegrate. I'm hopeful I can find that kind of place again perhaps with a better team leader
I might even develop myself to be that team leader in mid-term future but currently I'd be happy with a sub-ordinate role in that kind of team. I'm not someone who naturally seeks to lead but I can only accept lack of leadership and badly functional and spiritless teams for a finite amount of time.
P.S. This is one of the most "ME" posts I have made. It is how I truly feel about the matter. So this is good material for typing. One of the best there is.