Leadership & Teamwork
By Kim Olver, Sat Dec 10th
Strong, positive teamwork is defined by a leader who has avision and the ability to inspire his or her team to work towardthe realization of that vision.
The leader is not threatened in the least by the expertise anddiversity of his or her team. Rather, a good team leader engageshis or her teammates in a discussion about what quality lookslike, what is needed to perform and complete the job, andempowers the team members to always strive for qualityimprovement.
Let's break all that down into its component parts. The first isa clearly defined leader. I believe every team must have aleader. There must be someone who is in charge and makes theultimate decisions.
Team members may take turns being the leader as long as everyoneis clear who the leader is on any given day. Another variationof that theme is to have certain people be the leader forprojects that are in their area of expertise. However, in everyevent, there can be no question among teammates who is theleader for that day or project.
The leader needs to have a vision. This is similar to Covey'ssecond habit, "Begin with the end in mind." A true leadercreates the end product twice---once mentality and then in itsactual form. It is impossible to lead toward a fuzzy vision.People are simply not inspired to follow uncertainty.
Having the vision is not enough to inspire teammates to strivetoward the same goal. A good team leader knows how to help eachteammate see how the end product or service will be useful andwhat, exactly, their individual contribution is toward that end.
How does the janitor contribute to fans' enjoyment at aprofessional baseball game? By providing a clean, neat bathroomexperience---that's how. If the janitor sees himself as acritical cog in the big picture goal and he receives positiverecognition for it, then he is more likely to perform his jobwith enthusiasm.
Another component of being able to inspire one's teammates ishaving a clearly defined mission that everyone, preferably, hashad a part in developing, but if not, then at least team memberscan agree to the previously established team mission.
This becomes important in times of conflict between teammembers. When there is a dispute to be solved, it is helpful tohave an already established way to measure the solution.Solutions are always held up against the mission and whether ornot it will move the team closer or further from the ultimategoal.
The other advantage of having a mission that has been agreedupon by all team members is that it can enhance cooperation. Oneof the most difficult things to manage on a team is anindividual ego. There can be petty jealousies and a competitivespirit that can kill the cooperation of the best team. Themission statement is a way to minimize this potential fordisaster.
The mission remains the focus that everything else is comparedto.
An individual's action is either helpful or hurtful to themission and dealt with accordingly. The group's goal must alwaysbe placed above any individual's desires or ego. Jealousy andbackstabbing have no useful place on a team.
A good leader is in no way threatened by the expertise anddiversity of his or her team. The best leaders are alwaysseeking information from the front line people who are doing theactual work. Without information from team members, the leader'shands are tied behind his or her back.
It is also critical to use team members in their areas ofexpertise. Leaders can't know everything about everything. Therewill be team members who have skills and abilities that surpassthose of the leader in certain areas. A good leader will ask forhelp when it is prudent.
This is also a time to value diversity. Having a team made up ofpeople who all do the same jobs in pretty much the same wayreally has no value. One person could more easily do the jobthan assembling a homogenous team.
The value of a team comes from its heterogeneity. Gettingfeedback and suggestions from people who do things differentlyis what will spark the creativity and the genius of the team.This is what masterminding is all about. Tap into the wealththat is already there.
Finally, a good leader holds the bar high. He or she does notask his team to be average or mediocre. Average and mediocre canbe easily replaced. The leader asks his or her team tocollectively do their very best and when they are done, theleader asks them to always strive for continuous improvement.The work is never done. The team should always be evaluatingwhat has been implemented and be comfortable making suggestionsfor ways to do it even better.
Previously, I mentioned that a good leader empowers his or herteammates. Creating a need-satisfying environment does this.Team members must get along and know that the leader and thecompany have their best interests at heart. They must feelimportant, listened to and respected. They must have the freedomto make choices within the context of their assignments and theymust have some fun in their work.
It is also critical for team members to feel safe. This meansthat they are not fearful in any way. The team leader iscritical in fostering this environment for the empowerment ofthe entire team.
If you are interested in training your employees in the area ofteamwork, contact Kim at 708-957-6047, email email@example.com or visit the website atwww.coachingforexcellence.biz
About the author:Kim Olver is a licensed professional counselor in two states.She helps others make positive changes and triumph throughdifficult periods of their lives. She has maintained a privatecounseling practice and in 2004, decided to move into the fieldof coaching, where there are a greater number of individualsmore highly motivated to make the changes they seek. To learnmore about Kim visit www.CoachingforExcellence.biz or call herat (708) 957-6047.
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