What will it take for your “favorite team” to be one of your teams at work?
The question, What’s your favorite team?, mostly triggers a sports-response like the Vikings, Packers, Yankees, Twins or Lakers. Maybe even the Gophers, Cornhuskers and Crimson Tide. Or your local high school team (Jaguars?).
But sports teams seldom teach practical leadership lessons about how to build a favorite team in the workplace. The messages we typically receive are about heroic efforts and win/loss battles that reinforce a bygone era in the workplace.
Anyone who works for a living belongs to a team. It’s not as glamorous as the NFL, but whenever a task requires us to work together we are part of a team.
Nursing stations. Financial advisors. Risk management. Auto repair. Rooftop restaurants. These are all teams: some formal and structured; others informal and loose. Especially committees, boards, and task forces benefit from team-thinking.
What do the best teams have in common?
Our research and coaching affirms two really important ingredients for teams. The good leaders who produce great results with their teams do these two things:
- Help team members develop a genuine care and concern for one another – both personally and professionally.
- Create a culture where the team is actively involved in building the plans and solving the most difficult problems together.
Number 1 is a “relational” approach and number 2 is “structural.” These are the two ingredients that, when mixed together like epoxy, create a powerful bond that makes great things possible.
What this means for you at work is very similar to watching Notre Dame football on TV. Even though the superstars get most of the publicity for making the big score, it’s the ordinary people working together who make the great things possible. Caring, encouraging, clarifying, supporting and challenging…and helping each other be accountable. It’s beautiful when it works.