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Team is what the Leaders Are – Pshhht!

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

The ______ of the Leader

According to John Maxwell, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the team.” While that’s true, it is important to remember that the leader sets many agendas in addition to speed. Consider this phrase: The ______ of the leader is the ______ of the team. Now pick almost any word to fill in the blanks…

Attitude.

Enthusiasm.

Focus.

Service.

Integrity.

Passion.

Rarely will team members rise higher than the standard set by the team leader. Team members pay more attention to what the leader does than what the leader says. Ideally, there is congruence between the words and the action of the leaders. Wherever there is misalignment, followers choose to believe actions.

Are you giving team members something to live up to? Challenging them the a higher purpose? Are you a limiting factor?

That may be the way of 20th century knowledge work. To those of you reading this who are inspired by the above I feel for you. If you’re one of these leaders who believe it’s about you, look around. While you’re reading this your people…your own community is getting it done. If you’re a follower who is waiting to be inspired by your own leader you’re in for quite the uninteresting career.

So what type of leader inspires a team today? My thoughts move quickly to social networks to develop an answer to the question. The more I think about it the more I like it…

Social leadership

Imagine leadership that creates a platform for you to plant your passion and grow success through cultivating your dreams with the right relationships. A collaboration between parties that crosses well over the line of boss/employee to the muddy waters of partners on a journey of shared success.

I know, this isn’t a new idea. Or is it? Have you ever been a part of a group that posts the goal(s) on the wall and then hierarchy is literally thrown aside in favor of a social approach? Where the leader merely guides the right relationships trusting that those relationships will create the synergies necessary to exceed the stated goal?

Business guru to gurus Tom Peters talked about this type of team.

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’.”

I think we’ve all experienced this in some aspect of our lives. Unfortunately it’s probably very rarely at the place we hone our professional craft. Sad really.

Social leaders – state (ambiguously) our vision, our mission, suck us in whole hog. Then connect their teams to those who can, together execute against that vision. Then…they get out of the way.

Yes…they stop. They get out of the way and watch as this collaborative network far exceeds what they envisioned.

This last part is the hardest part for most middle managers especially. They want to delegate the work but many attempt to keep the glory of planting the flag at the top of the hill all to themselves. As I compare this strategy of leadership with social networking it falls apart. Imagine a social network where I post an idea, gather feedback from those around me and then take all credit.

That would be the last time I collaborate with that network and my whuffie would be forever damaged.

For teamwork to work, it must be embraced–in principle and in practice–by everyone on the team.

So those of us on teams – don’t wait for your leader to tell you how to team together. Get together with your colleagues and DIY. Collaborative teams are democratic. Talk amongst your team members and set out on a path of shared success. Announce to your leader(s) that there’s  a new social initiative on your team and you’ll like them to have a seat (not the seat) at the shared table. And, as you start on this journey remember this:

  1. In successful teams, team members are interdependent. They engage others for help early and offer help always
  2. Competition is healthy. There are three things you can use to create healthy competition: a competitor in the marketplace, a team goal to be achieved or a common problem to be solved.
  3. Team members are self-starters. Since they understand the big picture, they don’t need to be told what to do. Set the shared goal together, hold each other equally accountable and stay out of each other’s way
  4. Successful team members share both rewards and sacrifices. Don’t expect people to make sacrifices if they won’t get to share in the rewards later.
  5. The best thing you can strive for is not a team with a great leader. The highest goal is a team of leaders.

Here’s to more leaders, followers and organizations that continue to learn, grow and prosper from the social networking concepts.

Social rules!

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