If the COVID-19 global pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that I am a much better “me” when I am with others versus being fully isolated. This is something that I also realized when I left Corporate America and started WeInspireWe. While we can debate whether this is true for extroverts vs. introverts, I’d argue that together is always better – especially when it comes to the working world.
As an Executive Leadership Coach, I work primarily with individuals who are wanting to advance themselves in some way, shape or form. Regardless of the goal, I have yet to work with a client who can truly achieve without the support, encouragement, help, sacrifice or even challenges from others.
From the Beginning, You Only Focus on You
When we start our careers, we typically are individual contributors working primarily by ourselves to master the art of our trade. We are praised for our individual actions and are rewarded solely based on our ability to perform. As we progress in our careers, we get tasked with training others, managing others, and thinking more about the big picture than just the day-to-day tasks in front of us. We are asked to not just perform, but to orchestrate the inner workings of a complex and dynamic system called a team.
Yet being part of – and even leading – a team is in all actuality the polar opposite of how we are groomed to perform in our early years. We go from being responsible for one, to being responsible for many. This shift in our reward system can be a struggle and can leave many feeling insecure, struggling with imposter syndrome, micromanaging and controlling every situation, and ultimately creating a toxic environment for the team around us.
Yet, we are better together.
Teams foster strong cultures, create greater innovation, enable faster interpersonal and business growth, improve productivity, enhances flexibility, improves service levels and more.
So how can we shift from that perspective of “me” to “we”?
The greatest gift you can give yourself is the realization that no one can do it all alone – and by creating and empowering a dynamic team, you enable not only yourself, but the entire team to be high performers. To do this, we must:
Set the direction: this means not only setting the vision for the team, but also means that you do it in a way that gains buy-in early and often, you ensure growth and motivation along the way for all parties, and the goal (with steps) is clearly articulated from the very beginning. All wins (no matter how big or small) are celebrated, feedback is provided, and collaboration is key.
Consider diversity: we know that different perspectives begat greater growth. This has been proven time and time again. By bringing in a mix of skills, perspectives, and tenure, you’ll not only ensure that will the work be done, but you’ll create a culture where each team member feels inspired by the ability to offer their expertise and support the development of the goal and the growth of the rest of the group too. This enables greater collaboration and also ensures that each individual feels that they are adding value and contributing to the greater good.
Provide support in a variety of ways: from individual praise or constructive feedback, to removing obstacles in the path, to providing training and direction – support is necessary in any functioning team and especially in one where high performance is desired. The team not only needs to know that the support is there, but it has to be timely and relevant to create a feedback loop where individuals will seek support before it is needed vs having to course correct after the fact.
Finally, create a common mindset: meaning, the team, as well as the leader, needs to think like “we” instead of “me”. By having that shared vision with diverse perspectives and ongoing support to meet the task at hand, team members need to be singularly focused on the same thing – the end goal. The best and most effective way to enable this is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Offer complete information, manage expectations, centralize resources, ensure knowledge is shared broadly, and avoid interpretations (aka mis-interpretations) by expanding the ability to connect (text, instant messenger, phone calls, virtual meetings, etc). Consider even having “open door” time where anyone can come in to a virtual room to ask questions, brainstorm, etc.
How do You Know if it Works?
As you would imagine, this is not a simple overnight flip of the switch – and this is not a one and done exercise. To be effective as a team, the entire team – including the leader – need to be aware of the goal and to be actively measuring effectiveness based on output (the work being done), collaboration (the ability for the team to come together), and growth (both for the individual and the business goal). The ideal focus is to be mindful of these things, making small shifts along the way and continually communicating the “why”. Ask your team to hold you accountable to this approach – and hold them accountable too. The more on track everyone is, the faster problems can be solved and the better the ongoing performance of everyone involved.
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If you're ready to create the greatest team ever, inspire your great team to be even more, or step into your own greatest leadership potential, we are here for you. From individual coaching to group training programs, your goals are our goals - and our hearts are deeply committed to inspiring leaders and amplifying impact. Contact us today to learn more.