The old joke about there being no I in team seems like a clever notion, one imagines that the speaker would have everyone offer their individuality up for the greater good of the team. Hmm, quite a big demand for most of us. A great idea would be to say; bring yourself, your authentic self, to the team and join in. Be yourself and retain your identity but think how best you can benefit the team.
I wonder if being part of many teams could start to make one ‘anti’ team? Could one find oneself railing against the group and trying to be seen and heard as an individual in order to minimise this ‘ownership’?
I think the one way you can offset the potential loss of self-identity is to perhaps consider what being part of any team means. What are the benefits to you, how could you be a better team player, how could your individuality actually make a team more resilient stronger and more successful without having to lose yourself in the team identity.
For me the greatest teams are the ones where everyone knows their role, everyone feels heard and the common objective is clear.
Again, this is an ideal that teams can find it hard to live up to. So, what gets in the way? It is that all too often we do not speak up and say what we want and then we just hope by some miracle people will read our minds and provide us with the support or behaviour we are seeking. We often unintentionally offend others because we are unclear what their needs and objectives are. You must never ‘hope’ that people understand your motives and direction, you must be clear that you have a right, a duty, to be clear enough for everyone to understand you without apology for who you are.
You cannot solve problems if you have not let others know exactly what you want. With unclear expectations, you do not have the right to confront others on any breach of your unexpressed rules.
As a team leader, you must express your vision of how things are going to be with specific, identifiable and repeat actions, clarifying do’s and don’ts.
As a team member, you have a duty to express what you need to be in place to perform to the very best of your ability. Again, a request for a clear vision of what is expected? What are the team priorities? What areas are less important? If you are not able to speak up you will be swept along on other people’s vision of what should be and potentially suffer because of it.
There are such huge pleasures and benefits to being part of a productive supportive team; the sense of sharing in each other’s successes, not just your own, the enjoyment of your energy being used to the productive outcome of the task at hand. Not wasting energy watching your back and being anxious others are there to undermine you.
Whether a team leader or a team member you are more powerful than perhaps you realise. We have all been in teams where one tricky person can spoil the whole attitude of the group. That being accepted, one must agree that a positive proactive attitude will similarly affect the team.
There is very little point in feeling at the mercy of a difficult team member. What can you do to change things? That person might be tricky, but there are always ways to minimise the effect rather than complaining at the injustice of the situation. You can, and must make a difference in your own life.
My passionate desire for any team I work with is for each member to be able to express their individuality, whilst in turn respect the individuality of others. Then we create some magical ability to work well as a team, forming diverse and exciting groups able to listen to another point of view or idea without feeling threatened or undermined.
So now, you must speak up and demand to be heard but always respect the rights of everyone else to also be heard. It will be a powerful tool for you.