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Three Reasons Why Teamwork Makes Life and Work an Easier, and a More Rewarding Game.

Getting along with others can be difficult at times, even ‘painful’ depending on what you are trying to do. We all have different methods for getting things done, we all work at iStock-618547236-group-work-170712different speeds, and WILL have different philosophies about what needs to be done. That’s all part of dealing with people.

Working as a team, whether it is a family unit, a sports team, a business organization, or a country makes us all much more productive. As a coherent, working team with would have an opportunity to use various specialties and skills. We can hold each other accountable, and provide feedback on what is wrong and what is right. We can learn from each other and make our work better.

There are of course many ways in which teamwork makes life and work easier and more rewarding. I have found that the following have the greatest impact.

Frees Us Up to Get Better Work Done More Often

Working alone on a project is great, you get to produce something amazing, and you get to do it how you want to get it done. However, when you are working as part of a team you might not have those luxuries. But there are a lot more benefits.

Working on a team can be frustrating at first, you might ‘Butt Heads’ when trying to figure out just who is going to do what and how. After this period of conflict, and after you figure your stuff out, the team will discover that it can accomplish a lot more than it could as individuals.

Successful teams produce more because they can tap into that magic that creates success, PuzzlePiecescollective resources! Working on a project by yourself means that you only have YOUR SKILLS, and YOUR KNOWLEDGE to get the job done. Working on a team you get the advantage of; multiple skill bases, multiple viewpoints, and multiple hands in the mix to get the job done faster. Sure, that means that there might be more of a chance for mistakes, but when you have more eyes on the project, your more likely to catch them before they become serious.

There are three questions that your group must ask itself if it is going to get better work done, and more often;

  1. Am I On the Team for Myself, or Am I In It For The Team?

It is important that everyone on the team realize that they are a ‘Team’. It is fine to know that you are the best at what you do and that you might, in fact, be indispensable to the team. But if that means that distracts you from the goal of the team to further your own ends (Glory, Recognition, Money…), then you should not be there.

Primadonnas can be great! They can be entertaining, they can even serve as a ‘Rallying Point’ for the team. But they often can serve as a distraction, especially when they start serving their own egos and end goals. It is up to the team leaders to ‘reign them in’ and make sure that the ‘primadonna’ is contributing to and serving the team and not themselves.

2. Do I Know the Goal of The Team?

Team leaders should make sure that everyone on the team knows the ‘end goal’ for the team. It is kind of difficult to accomplish a task, or reach a goal, without knowing the; Why? What? Where? When? And How? Sure, you might not need to know every little detail (you might not want to know), but you should be aware of the pertinent information. Be aware of; why is this goal important? What is the ‘end goal’ of the team? Where is my position on the team? When will this goal be reached? How are we going to get to the goal?

If you are unaware of the goal of the team, then you might want to ask and make yourself aware or leave the team.

3. Am I A Good Fit For The Team? Is The Team Benefiting From My Being There?

Ok, so this one is two questions, but they contribute to a single outcome. Production.

We all enjoy working with people with similar; working styles, attitudes and motivations. But do these working styles work together and is the team benefiting from them. If these working styles mesh and produce excellent work…. great! If they do not, then it is up to you and your team’s leadership to figure out if there is another position on the team that you might work better in. You might work better on a different team, and you must accept that for the good of the team.

Builds Morale and Gives Us Confidence

Human beings, for the most part, are very social creatures. We take great comfort in being part of a group, whether it is a small group (team or a family) or a large group. And creates confidence in us when we can contribute to the betterment of that group or team. individual-coaching(Bushak, 2015) It builds self-esteem knowing that we have done something that will have a lasting impact on an organization or group.

It also builds morale in us individually and as a group knowing that we have the group’s support. When we know that someone has ‘our back’ we feel more secure with being creative, going outside of our ‘comfort zone’. In other words, innovating!

People who feel secure and valued are more likely to contribute their best work and more of it.

Makes Learning Easier and Happen More Often

Learning is one of the things that we do most as human beings. We are busy learning every waking moment of every day, whether we realize it or not. Our brains are constantly taking in information, updating information, and using that information. When do we learn the most? When we are working/playing/creating with others!

Would you rather have things told too you, or would you rather discuss and debate them with your teammates? Discussing topics with friends and coworkers make them more pliable and easier to understand for us and the group.

Learning with a team is often more successful because:

  • Constant Reinforcement

Learning in a team environment means that you can discuss and debate the facts with your friends and colleagues. This ‘repetition’ provides constant reinforcement of those facts in your memory, which means they are more likely to ‘stick’.

  • Feedback Works

When we are learning, we need some kind of feedback. We need the ability to assess ourselves and the direction our learning is going. Groups and teams provide that feedback. Sure, we could assess our own work and learning direction, but that is usually unreliable subjective self-feedback. Our teams/groups can provide that objective feedback on our progress that we need.

shutterstock_97221119-leadershipSuccessful teams depend on leadership. It could be someone who just happens to take on the mantle of ‘Leader’, or maybe someone who is decided will be the ‘Leader’ or the group could provide mutual direction amongst itself. Leadership is critical.

Leadership should be there to guide and direct talent, not ‘badger’ and micromanage. Micromanagers usually elicit self-doubt and frustration from groups. This is usually because the members of the group know what they are supposed to be doing, but the leadership keeps putting their ‘two-cents’ in any way.

Team leaders should be collaborative, willing to listen to, work with and learn from team members. This should go for the entire team, you never know what you are going to learn from your team, so be open to anything and everything!

I am interested in starting a conversation about teamwork and its benefits. Please feel free to comment!

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Bushak, L. (2015, June 16). Joining A Group Boosts Confidence And Self-Esteem Even More Than Having Friends. Retrieved from Medical Daily: http://www.medicaldaily.com/joining-group-boosts-confidence-and-self-esteem-even-more-having-friends-338534

 

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Filed under Organizational Psychology, Leadership, Team Building, Psychology, Behavior, Motivation, Interaction

Why Playing The ‘Short Game’ Almost Always Leaves You Short

         The Short Game, in sports this often means ‘playing it safe’, by making the short pass, or by taking the closer easier shot…..sure, by playing this way you’ll make progress, but the chance of hitting that ‘Home Run’ are all that more remote. In order to make real, and amazing progress you eventually have to take risks; on both the things you do and the people you trust (in both sports and business).

We as human beings like to play it safe; it makes us feel secure to keep OUR ducks in a row fishthinkbigger-copyand not take risks by sharing ourselves and what we have. We have our own little social network that we only feel that we can open up to and allow access to our resources. We want to play that short ‘safe’ game because we know what the results will be, and we know that our network will reap gains from it. This reaches back to ‘caveman times’ when we huddled in our social units; not communicating, not sharing, not TRUSTING in the abilities and awareness of others. Only when we as humans began this process of reaching out did we begin the process of emotional, technological, and social evolution.

It is extremely important that we as a people are able to reach out to others, and expand our knowledge base…..otherwise, we are stuck in our own little world, knowing the same things about the same stuff, and not learning anything (evolving)! Imagine if we never really ‘tried’, if we saw that next mountain and never asked “what is over on the other side?” If we never took the risk to find out! We would still be a people huddled in caves, with no hope for change. https://hbr.org/2013/10/the-hidden-dangers-of-playing-it-safe

Only by playing The Long Game, by taking risks, by being patient, by communicating (with everyone), by sharing, by seeing the ‘Big Picture’ from multiple viewpoints do we achieve tremendous gains on all fronts! That is, after all, one of the main reasons why we are here, isn’t it? To achieve. We are here to be the best people we can be, to create the best product possible, to take care of each other so that we can succeed as a species!

Teamwork has been the human method of survival for many thousands of years, depending on our ‘human team’ for resources and assistance, and like it or not……we are all on the same team, supposedly playing the same ‘game’ (unfortunately not all by the same rules).

There are a number of key aspects to playing The Long Game that makes it easier to not drop the ball. It’s might not be easy for some of us, but it is well worth the effort.

  • Shut Up and Listen – Just remember that you don’t know everything! We all know something about something and are experts in our own area(s). The person that you least expect might be able to contribute an idea or resource that could change your; life, business, social standing, or even attitude towards all of the above. You don’t know what someone is going to contributshutite, so why not give them the chance to voice their opinion or idea(s)? If what they have to say, or for that matter what they can do, doesn’t fit in with what you are trying to accomplish, fine. You haven’t really lost much other than a few minutes of your time, but you have gained the knowledge of what that person is capable of, and what that person knows (and that is GOLDEN). Don’t forget to voice your opinions too, let the group know what you need…..you never know who or what someone else knows! Knowledge is Power!
  • Give Credit Where It Is Due – When you do something great (or even mediocre) don’t you want to be recognized for doing it? Sure, we all do. When someone puts effort into doing ANYTHING they want some sort of recognition for doing it, it’s only human to expect this. You don’t necessarily have to throw a party every time the garbage is taken out or every time someone clears a paper jam, but if you want people to keep doing things for you, it is really important to at least give them a ‘pat on the back’ or a “thank you”. Besides, it actually feels good to offer someone recognition, you both get a rush of Oxytocin (one of those ‘feel good’ hormones) and this will make you both want to do it again (this actually gives people further incentive to do an even BETTER job more and more often). http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/04/30/how-the-trust-molecule-drives-business-performance/#7e2b12ec2f13
  • Don’t Think ‘You’re All That’ – Sure, it’s great to realize that you are awesome at what you do and that you get things done the way they need to be done! BUT, just Creativeremember that somewhere out there is someone who might just do what you do better than you. People like working with people who are humble. When a member of a group expounds on their abilities and accomplishments (especially a group leader), this often overshadows the others and makes less of the group’s successes. Don’t worry, people will recognize your achievements and abilities for what they are; the important thing is the accomplishments of the group. Don’t Make it About You, Make It About The Team! Confidence is Infectious!
  • Be Patient – Remember the old saying “Good things happen to those who wait“, it’s actually true! By being patient and taking your time in what you are doing will reap you more rewards than rushing and making a mess of things. By taking your time, by setting achievable deadlines, and by allowing others to keep pace, you will avoid;
    • Mistakes – This one speaks for itself. When we rush, we forget steps, we miss key elements, and just generally make a mess.
    • Missed opportunities – Very often opportunities will present themselves to add to a project or task, or actually improve on what you are doing. But, if you are rushing you might miss those opportunities.
    • Not allowing your job or project to achieve true fruition – Often a project or task requires time and thought to allow it to be completed to its maximum effect (to allow for greater success). By rushing, you might miss out on the maximum return-on-investment (ROI).
  • Play Fair – No one likes a cheat! By playing by the rules you level the playing field, allowing everyone to work together better….remember, teamwork! By not playing fairfair, this causes three things (or more) that are extremely disruptive to the idea of teamwork:
    1. Kills Trust – When was the last time you trusted someone who didn’t play by the rules? I would imagine probably never. Sure it might somehow feel good knowing that you have the upper-hand and every advantage in the book, but it doesn’t feel so good to everyone else who has to work and play with you! People want to trust that their co-workers and friends can achieve through their own skills and abilities, and not by skirting the rules.
    2. Causes Confusion – When someone is playing by a different set of rules than the rest of the team, people are either going to; butt heads, or not know what is exactly going on! We humans don’t really like confusion (sometimes it can be fun, but not when important stuff is on the line), we as a species like to know what we have to do, when it needs to be done, and how we can go about doing it. When confusion comes into the picture (especially in business, most of us spend a lot of time trying to figure out why or how something different is happening, rather than focusing on the task that needs doing).
    3. How Do You Want To Be Remembered – Would you rather be remembered as someone who got things done the wrong way, or as someone who achieved something great the correct way? This is something that we all should ask ourselves when we are trying to accomplish something. Most of us would like to be remembered as someone who has the skill to get this done properly. The group should be able to be remembered for what they got done, and how they ALL worked together to complete the job…that is true GREATNESS! You Can’t Take It With You, But Actions Last!
  • And, Give Back – Always remember to share in the spoils of victory (or any other accomplishment). You wouldn’t be where you are today without your friends, family, and co-workers. From the CEO down to the janitorial staff, all of them contributed to where you and your company are today (or they have the potential to contribute). By making everyone feel like they are part of the social group/team they will want to do great things and contribute to the continued success of the group!

Sometimes you have to play The Short Game in order to get things done (when there is a time crunch or an emergency), it’s fine to shift into that mode for the ‘short term’. Never forget the big picture, that the only way to make the really big and profitable advances is to invest in people and utilize their skills and abilities.

True, there are those out there who exclusively play The Short Game; they see the golf-ball-549228_1920short-term vision and don’t take true risks on people and work, and they do achieve some level of financial and social gain. But fortunately, there are people out there with true vision, with patience, who are willing to take risks on people and resources to achieve amazing gains…..true leaders!

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Three Reasons Why You Need To Color Outside The Lines

Remember when you were a kid and you had your box of zillion count crayons and you spent hours coloring in your others_rainbow_crayons-0411coloring books, but you never really wanted to color outside the big bold outlines? Well, we are all big boys and girls now, and it is more important than ever that we try and leave those lines behind and try some new things.

For centuries some of the most influential people have been coloring outside the lines (Plato, Galileo, Lincoln, Einstein…). However it is more important than ever to make this change in our behavior. Where as a great many people may think that the reason to be different is to just make yourself more ‘interesting’, corporations are looking for this behavior for much deeper reasons.

  1. Innovation – When you ‘color outside the lines’ your thoughts might stray a bit, and that can be a good thing. You want to expand on current ideas, and stretch yourself a bit (ok, sometimes more than a bit). New ideas don’t occur in a vacuum, they often happen when someone sees another individual’s ideas and expands on them. If you just keep creating the same old colors, within the same old lines…..your just going to keep having the same old ideas, and keep turning out the same old stuff.
  2. Humility – It says a lot about a person when they are willing to leave there comfort zone and try coloring something new, and possibly in a completely new shape (and heaven forbid coloring in someone else’s coloring book). When you are willing to say that something else might be better for my company than what I am already doing, that I might be holding my company back by maintaining the status quo, and that I am willing to go somewhere new to make it better, that says that you are willing to put the team ahead of yourself. Some of the most successful organizations on the planet (Google, Apple, and Amazon) strive to find humble people who see the team as being a more important commodity than oneself.
  3. Teamwork – People like working with people who have different ideas and skills, it makes life more interesting, doesn’t it? Beyond keeping life from getting boring, people who ‘color outside the lines’ also generally contribute a lot more to the broader picture……a LOT MORE! The individuals who bring unique ideas and skills become an asset and strength for the group, because in order for the team to survive in a hostile environment, it must embrace change, this doesn’t happen without leaving the lines. Sure, it might seem counter-intuitive, but squiggling outside the lines adds a feeling of security to the team too….people like knowing that something new and interesting is going on within the company. Change is good, and people know it!

images (8)Of course there are many other reasons why you would want to be your own person, and do things in a unique way. But these reasons seem to hold the most value for corporations these days. Organizations are looking for interesting people who are individuals who know when to put the ‘team’ first, not just be concerned with themselves and how things benefit him or her.

The corporate mindset of doing the same thing because it’s comfortable may work in the short-term, however since things in the world of business are constantly changing these are not the kind of people they need for survival in the long-term.

Change is good!

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When Leaders Start Leading Too Much

It is hard to dispute the fact that we all need a little direction, a little guidance at some point in our lives. This either due to a lack ofDirection experience with a situation, a lack of fundamental knowledge about the subject matter, or it could just be a lack of motivation to accomplish the task in question. But, when is there too much leadership, and not enough exploration and growth on the part of those who seem to need that direction?

Leadership is often not so much about ability, it is more about responsibility and being able to management the skills and the abilities of those who are a part of your team. It is about being the one who is will to take on the role of mediating out when someone might need direction, and when they may not. It is part of the job of the leader to know when put pressure on some people to perform in a certain direction, and when to just let them do their own thing.

People very rarely like, or appreciate being led around by the nose constantly, always being told what to do and how it is going to be done. This leadership style has its place at times and may be necessary when emergencies arise, and there is absolutely no margin for error. But when this form of management becomes the norm in an organization, or even at home, this can cause resentment, discord, and even worse; complacency. Too much of this kind of leadership may send the message that the team isn’t trusted to figure things out on their own.

CreativeCreativity flourishes when people are given the freedom to ‘play’ and approach problems and situations with their own style and abilities. Innovation relies on a leader given their team the problem at hand, giving the team the restrictions placed on the leader, and then letting the team figure out a way around those restrictions to the solution.

The creativity that your leadership establishes also need a level of restraint, as you don’t want the members of you team losing sight of the established vision (Goodman, 2013). However these constraints should be realistic and allow for freedom of movement, and they should be consistent with your style of leadership.

As a leader, one should consistently be analyzing the approach toward team members, and whether or not the team’s production correlates with your style of leadership. This analysis should tell you when you team is responding to your methods, and when there needs to be a change. Your people may not always tell you when you either need to lay off the breaks or when they need more direction, this is part of the responsibility of leadership, the ‘knowing’, not always the ‘doing’.

 

Goodman, N. (2013, August 13). Striking the Perfect Balance Between Creative Freedom and Realistic Limits. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227673

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