This is a message for anyone who calls him/herself a leader of a team:
How do you define “team”?
Take a minute to answer this for yourself.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
If your definition includes something about a group of humans who are greater than the sum of their parts, congrats! You get a cookie!
While you enjoy your treat, here’s a more formal definition of “work team” to chew on:
“A group whose individual efforts result in performance that is greater than the sum of the individual inputs.” (Robbins & Judge, Organizational Behavior, 16th Edition)
(Quick aside: I’m a quasi-minimalist when it comes to most things, including books. There is a grand total of 31 books on my bookshelf. Organizational Behavior by Robbins and Judge is one of them.)
If you can honestly grasp the importance of “greater than the sum of their individual inputs,” you’re ahead of the game. Most people — including so-called leaders — get this really, really wrong.
See, a team is not simply a group. A group is two or more people who interact with one another and share information. Perhaps they also make decisions and help each other achieve objectives.
But a team? They do all of the above AND their synergy results in kick-ass performance.
Think about YOUR team. Is that synergy present? Do they dazzle you? Do other people (including senior leaders) commend their performance? Do they leave you gushing with pride?
Do they simply interact to get along and stay out of each other’s hair? Do they point out mistakes but don’t help each other fix them? Do they achieve objectives rather than striving to surpass them?
Here’s one last thought to chew on and it may be hard to swallow:
If you team acts more like a group, whose fault is it?
I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.
It’s your fault.
Let that sink in.
As tough as that is to admit, it’s also empowering. Because it means YOU have the power to make it better. YOU have the power to ignite that synergy.
And it’s a tough fire to ignite. You have to keep it burning. You may even get scalded from time to time.
But it’s worth it. The scars mean you’re a leader of a team. And not simply a member of a group.
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