Don’t underestimate the importance of being a part of a team. We as human beings are designed as relational beings. We’re not meant to go through this life on our own; and in every area of our lives we’ll find ourselves thinking, acting, and living like those we choose to surround ourselves with. In every area of life, we need to make sure that we surround ourselves with people who are going where we want to go.
Whether it’s in your family, in your business or your job, in your social relationships, or in your spiritual life, you need to be teamed up with like-minded people who are going in the same direction that you want to go. If you’re constantly associating and relating with people who are negative, you’ll become negative. If you’re surrounding yourself with those who complain about the way things are, the economy, their circumstances, their rotten boss, etc…you’ll find yourself complaining about everything, too.
On the other hand, if you have a mind to continually look for ways to improve yourself, your home life, your career, your spiritual life, your business, and you surround yourselves with like-minded motivated people who also are actively improving their circumstances, you’ll find yourself encouraged and motivated to reach your potential as well.
Look to the goose for direction.
Geese, as most of you know, are migratory birds. They fly north during the summer months and fly south to escape the cold in winter months. They fly for thousands of miles each season and, without being part of a team that’s all headed in the same direction, they’d never be able to make the journey alone. I’m sure you’ve seen a flock of geese in flight. They travel in that V-formation with one leader out in front and the rest of the flock following in formation behind. The reason for this formation is that the flapping of the wings of each bird causes an updraft that helps the bird behind fly with less effort. It’s like drafting behind a semi on the interstate to save gas or a racecar driver using the draft from the car ahead to effortlessly slingshot past. When the lead bird gets tired he falls to the back of the flock so that he may regain his strength and another, more rested, goose takes his place at the head of the formation. Sharing the workload in a combined effort helps the flock to travel hundreds of miles without stopping. Additionally, if one of the geese is sick or injured and drops out of the formation, two healthy geese accompany the injured bird to the ground to aid in his recovery and keep him safe. Now that’s a model of teamwork we all need to embrace.
Apply this team philosophy to each area of your life in which you want to grow. If you want to start a business, hang out with successful business owners. If you want to learn to speak in front of a group of people, hang out with active public speakers. If you want to be a millionaire, hang out with millionaires! It’s our nature. You will become like those you spend most of your time with, so choose your relationships wisely.
Whether you are the leader of the company, your department, or your cubicle, what you do and how you do it affects the members of the team. A team culture that follows certain protocol will ensure a more effective and energetic team environment. Team leader or not, take any opportunity to contribute to the overall effectiveness of your team. Use the following 10 Tips as a checklist to measure how your team is functioning and see if there is room for improvement. Share these tips with your teammates so everyone is on the same page.
1. Celebrate the Individual
A team is only as good as the sum of its parts. And a team is just that: a collection of parts, individuals actually, each marching to the beat of his or her own drummer. Remembering that will put more soul into your team spirit.
2. Establish Role Clarification
Each member should be able to articulate clearly what they are responsible for, and how what they do contributes to the team’s or organization’s goals.
3. Be Inclusive
Along those lines, team members have different strengths and talents and a well-rounded team benefits from incorporating all of them. Teams need enthusiastic energizers, deliberate doers, supportive collaborators and question raisers. While no type should dominate or bog down a team, value and respect each for its diverse contribution.
4. Start Each Meeting with a “Check-in”
Before every team meeting, take a few moments for each team member to “check-in” with the group on a business or personal note. The result? Team members are less distracted by outside circumstances and feel more connected to each other.
5. Creative and Environment of Trust and Safety
Establish these as ground rules. Members should feel comfortable talking about any concerns or issues. Have a conversation about trust. What are members willing to talk about? What feels less safe?
6. Encourage Healthy Debate
Trust and safety lead to lively debate. Are all ideas being expressed? Are different points of view seen as critical to creative work? Brainstorm in an environment that is tolerant and encourages participation.
7. Go for Commitment vs. Consensus
Healthy debate leads to buy-in. But rather then go for 100% agreement, strive for commitment. In other words, be sure everyone can truly commit to a decision even if they initially challenge it. Keep talking until the decision is refined and everyone supports it.
8. Hold Each Other Accountable
Accountability in teams is where the rubber meets the road. Become accountable for getting the best out of each other. Hold each other accountable to promises made – not your expectations.
9. Conduct Team Performance Reviews
Ask yourselves regularly, “How are we doing as a team?” Consider the following criteria: Trust, healthy debate, buy-in, accountability. Patrick Lencioni says more about these team-building strategies in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
10. Recognize Successes
It is amazing how rare this is. If you are a team leader, pay extra close attention. Bosses tend to think, “Succeeding is your job.” While that is true, check the winning team at the end of a football or baseball game-any sport for that matter. They certainly succeeded at their job. How do they behave? How do their coaches behave?