Have you been in an office where some variation of "There is no I (in a team)" saying is on the motivation poster hanging on the wall? If not, you will.
You might think that this is a modern-day managerial principle of sorts, but the truth is that this discussion is almost as old as the chicken or the egg dilemma. The principle suggests that one person's needs, ideas, competencies, and abilities are any more crucial than the combined abilities and efforts of the group.
But can we talk about the team if there is no I in it?
Today, this approach to teamwork is commonly understood as the relic of the old management system, or better, the old cliché.
How did we get here?
We are witnessing the rapid change of the digital landscape and technology. These advancements are bringing fascinating changes in the workplace and workforce. We no longer think in terms of strictly nine-to-five jobs, but rather about four working days, remote teamwork, collaboration software, and similar. We do not only observe the improvements and modifications in the tech world exclusively because all industries are taking big steps to improve the needs of employees.
The focus of team leaders is shifting towards employee satisfaction and helping them bring out their best.
Leaders and managers are emphasizing the importance of balancing personal and work lives. Naturally, they also became focused on improving the ways we work in teams.
The problem occurs when leaders and managers get confused. Sometimes they emphasize only the benefits for the group while individuality is getting suppressed. This is why the individual egos should serve the team and advance the team's mission, all in order for the team to become more effective.
Naturally, this bears the question: Can we talk about collaboration if individual egos are getting shunned?
The answers can vary: Perhaps. Sometimes. It depends. Maybe, or maybe not. So, can we find the right one?
The I in the Team
If you want to lead a smart and effective team, ask yourself what the purpose of the team is and you will understand the importance of the "I".
If the purpose of the team is to be effective and productive, the team needs to harness the skills of the individuals. This way, the team should be able to function as an intelligent hub, make better decisions, and bring more ideas than the smartest member of the team.
It should be easy, right? Well, guess what?
The strongest link is usually the weakest one.
Given the different types of human issues, the complexities of ego, and biases in behavior, the I in the team can wear different hats. The individuality of each team member can both degrade the team's performance and accelerate the team's potential. We cannot understand the nature of the team if we continue to talk about the team only as a group of individuals. This is where the leaders step in.
The role of the leader is not to suppress individuality, but to find a way to enhance the skills, knowledge, and abilities of the individuals - or create one.
But the question is: How can one leader achieve this goal?
To give a proper answer to this question, let’s look into the characteristics of the high-performing team:
- Supportive organization and openness
- Clear purpose and attitude towards the goals
- Defined membership and team roles
- Supportive and encouraging structure
- Sharing skills and knowledge
Not one of these requirements is created towards reducing the personality of each member or sacrificing it for the purpose of the success of the project or idea. Values and vision are to be shared with the group without eliminating the I from the team.
So, the answer lies in the role of the leaders.
There are four crucial roles of team leaders
Leaders play multiple roles within the teams. Regardless of the industry, the size of a business, or the service, the leaders drive innovation and support the team to get the best outcome and expected results.
Who is an effective leader?
This is a leader that forms a certain environment in which each individual within a team can contribute to the bigger goal but keep self-awareness and individual traits.
Unfortunately, team members are usually expected to naturally understand each of the other roles, positions, and to bring no drama in communication. This is usually easier said than done and presents an unrealistic expectation.
Simply put, leaders and managers maximize the potential and performance of the team. They must analyze, conceptualize, think structurally, possess certain social skills, and have the right attitude.
4 Things Leaders Must Understand
#1 To ANALYZE means to have critical and strategic skills for understanding the Why
Leaders must know data, they must think logically and strategically toward the future. Leaders must understand the Why and possess data that supports the way they propose the business, project or the way ideas should be developed.
#2 To CONCEPTUALIZE means to see Where the business should go
This is probably the most difficult role, but the one that is expected. If the leader does not set, understand, and see the vision, neither will employees.
#3 To STRUCTURE means to understand the How
To do so, the team leaders need to provide the plan and the framework to get the company to Where and Why. Leaders do not necessarily need to know and foresee every step the company should take, but they do need to create and provide the guidelines.
#4 To possess certain SOCIAL SKILLS means to understand the Who
Connecting and engaging with each person, relating to their way of thinking, listening to their needs, and creating an atmosphere of trust and respect - this is what leaders need to do to understand their employees.
This is why experienced leaders will:
● Define the roles in the team
● Guide the team culture
● Promote and support team values
● Identify individual skills
● Allow team members to contribute or lead
● Promote collaboration
● Understand knowledge management
● Work with both individuals and the team
Finally, a good leader understands that each member of the team is as strong as their weakest link.
How to help the leaders
Leaders do need help. Collaboration tools and other team communication solutions are used to improve the relationship and work between members. Remote teams especially rely on these types of tools to stay in the loop about work and to track progress.
The internal blog is a good solution for leaders and managers who DO THINK of their teams. In other words, Internal communication and leadership go hand in hand.
If you want to determine the structure, organizational culture, communication, and distribution of power, you need a strong, competent, and effective leader. Leadership, thus, directly and indirectly, impacts the business, the company, their employees, the atmosphere... each and every element of the business. For leaders, internal communication is an instrument, a strategy that helps leaders be effective, share their vision and values with employees, and keep everyone on the same track.
If you need to improve your internal communication, try our internal blog.
Don’t only trust our word for it. Test and see the results yourself. An internal blog can make a big difference for businesses, directly and indirectly.
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