When you are accustomed to being in charge, like me, it isn’t easy to work in teams. When I work the spotlight is usually on me. I love its warmth and as a true performer, I show up knowing that when I am done there will be applause all around. It’s part of the reasons why I work. I love when my clients have an “Ah Ha” moment during a coaching session and I am excited when they move forward. I love when I facilitate a group and the members leave the room committed to an agreement. And of course I am thrilled when a client is excited with the results and wants to work with me more.
These feelings are about my ego; they are my pat on the back that I have done a good job. It’s a heady feeling that propels me to work and assist clients get to where they want to be.
Over the last week I worked as part of a five member team with a client in Budapest and I marvelled at how different it is to work in teams. This was a team of competent professionals in the respective fields of Organisational Development, Coaching and Facilitation who successfully work with clients in our own paradigms.
The notion of true teamwork without a declared leader, flipped the notion of individual stardom on its head. As I reflect on how we worked together I can see what worked and did not work for us to work in harmony as a team.
The individual decisions of the team members are not important. While is important that we each contribute to the decision making process; once the decision is made we each have to suck it up and go with the team.
There can be no stars in the team, everyone shares the spotlight to present a balanced experience for the client. When any member hogs attention, the team appears imbalanced and uncoordinated.
The team has to stick to the game plan. When a member changes tactics midstream, other team members bristle and the tension is seen in their facial expressions and body language. Without knowing why, the client senses the shift in energy and interprets this as a lack of competence of the group and negatively reacts. Not a good scene.
Group members also have to suck it up. Things may not go the way that we like but even as the maverick goes off on a tangent we have to stick with him and gently bring the engagement back on track. In front of the client is not the place to shout him down or reprimand him, we have to let him go his own way and when he is finished artfully steer the work back to where it should be. This calls for the team to be flexible since we may have to change the game plan to recover from this situation.
Team members who work as individuals within the team represent particular challenges that are not easy for me to deal with. I expect that as adults when we share an expressed purpose that we all move toward it. The experience of the maverick is new for me and I have not yet come to any decisions about how to deal with a person like that. I am still grappling with the question of “What to do when a team player does not want to play on the team (when there is no designated leader)? My book – Lead Your Team To Win – addresses the questions about mavericks but in this Budapest team I was not the leader so the options that I will usually make as a leader were not open to me. While I mull about this situation and break it down to its parts I know that it confirms for me the beliefs that I share about leadership and teamwork in “Lead Your Team To Win”.
A team is not the place for mavericks, its not a space to be renegade and the spotlight has to be shared.
There is no I in team, but there is a me in a team. I is a subjective work which means that the focus is on the I. Me is an objective word, which is in relation to the subject matter and does not stand alone. There is no I in teams because I cannot be the focal point of a team. There is a me is teams because me serves the purpose of the team.
If you cannot be of service, or if you cannot be an object for the greater good then its perfectly okay for you to work on your own. A team may not be the environment for you.
How do you work in teams? What do you do about the mavericks on your team?