The analogy of teams as compared to the human body is probably over done. But it still holds true because it’s a solid comparison. The head, the hands, the stomach, the knees,… all of these parts of the body have specific functions to perform, and none of them can function without the brain. They are also all connected. The same can be said for teams. Every member of the team has a specific function to perform. They have a hard time functioning well without a good leader or manager. Every member of the team is connected. Or at least, that’s the ideal.
The reality sometimes looks quite different. Clear expectations, goals and objectives can be murky or not communicated at all. Members of the team can be passive in their role, not seeking clarity when they don’t understand something, or doing nothing in the absence of clear direction. The leader of the team can be at one extreme or the other—micro-managing every task, or so completely hands-off that the team members are left guessing about priorities. Lack of direction and purpose often leads to in-fighting and jockeying for position. Micro-management leads to frustration on the part of team members who feel like their talents are not valued.
In the 20 years I’ve been working with leaders and teams, I’ve never seen two exactly alike. Sure, there are similarities, but every team is unique. The dynamics largely depend on the hard-wiring of the team members and the leader, and how well they’ve learned to manage their own wiring in relationship to those around them. All things flow from that—good communication, establishing clear expectations, getting buy-in, and properly motivating each member of the team to work to their fullest potential.
Each member of the team, including the leader, needs to think about their role and how they can best perform it. Self-evaluation and reflection is critical to our ability to process our experiences, learn from them, and adjust accordingly, if necessary. Communicating that learning is another critical piece in order to increase the awareness of those around us, and ensure we are getting the kind of feedback, direction, and motivation we need to be most successful.
Every person is their own best advocate, especially in the work place. No one can better speak up for you about what you need and want in your work environment and relationships. We invite you to think of three ways your working life could be improved if you were to ask for something from your colleagues, be it more feedback, more room to try out an idea, or more support. Try it. What could you possibly have to lose? We’d love to hear from you about how it goes. Have a great week!