To be an effective leader you must be able to build and lead a team. This is true whether you are given an already formed team to lead, or you are building a team from scratch.
Of course, building a team begins with your relationship with the individuals who are, or will be, on your team. Each of the team members needs to know you value them and that they matter to you. After all, why else would they really want to follow your lead and choose to be on your team?
And if you want to get the best from people you must find a way to help them connect with your vision in a way that feeds the fire of their personal passions and aspirations so they can choose your vision as their own.
But establishing a commitment to a common goal by the individuals in a group isn't enough to ensure there will be teamwork.
Unfortunately, even a group of highly intelligent and capable team members does not automatically translate into a highly capable team.
And while collegiality may be a good sign that teamwork will follow, it is no guarantee.
From “me” to “we”
To become a high-performing team requires that the individual team members are willing to set aside “me” in service of "we." Being a team player means that not only does an individual share in a commitment to a common vision, but that each individual believes the contribution, success and satisfaction of every team member matters.
So how do you know if you have
successfully led your team in making the shift from “me” to “we”? The following
are 3 signs to watch out for:
1. The team's progress matters more than individual opinion, preferences and credit.
Are team members vying for position or lobbying to ensure their point of view prevails? Or are they genuinely listening to the ideas of others and seeking the best way forward?
Do team members measure their individual success based on proving their ideas or approach are right even at the expense of progress? Or are they willing to let go of their own ideas or approach long enough to truly consider the thinking of others?
Is credit perceived to be more important than progress in getting ahead?
2. The whole team celebrates one member’s success
A stand out performance by one team member evokes acknowledgment and pride among the entire team and a sense of responsibility to lead by the high performer.
High-performing teams often create the conditions for demonstrations of individual excellence. The question is, when an individual shines, do they see it as an opportunity to set themselves apart from the team or as a call to be a leader in the team’s success? And does one individual’s stand out moment evoke pride by all or cause others to feel jealous, or think less of their own performance?
3. Stress on the team pulls the team together rather than tearing it apart
If you want to get a good read on the level of teamwork, the best time to observe a team is when they are under stress. That stress could be from unexpected circumstances, externally imposed constraints, the aftermath of a mistake or even the threat of failure.
In the face of increased stress, what happens to the teamwork? Is there finger pointing and blame? Or is their ownership and forgiveness? Are they focused on what happened and why? Or do they quickly leave the past behind them and get to work on correcting course and achieving the intended result in spite of the circumstances or the breakdown?
Do difficult circumstances send the team into a downward spiral? Or does the challenge serve to rally the team to work together?
What are other signs that you have successfully lead a team in making the shift from “me” to “we”?