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There is an “I” in Team

In fact there are several. It’s true that to be most effective, the team should act as a coordinated entity, smoothly working together toward a common mission and shared goals. But, all teams are made up of individuals with their own personal goals and priorities. The leader’s challenge is to convince the team’s members that the mission is important enough to set aside their personal desires for the team.

Doesn’t sound too easy, does it?

It isn’t, but there are two actions a leader can take that will cause the “I” to become more like “we.”

First, demonstrate the behavior you want to see in the team. That means subordinating your own desires for the team. When the team is successful, publically give them credit. When things don’t go right, take that responsibility on yourself then engage the team to find a way to prevent that problem in the future.

Second, be clear about what the team’s mission is and what goals need to be achieved. Believe in the importance of the mission and goals, and keep them at the forefront of everything they do. Most importantly, make sure each team member knows how important they are to mission and goal accomplishment. That sense of belonging, of being recognized as important to the team is one of the most important motivational needs and helping team members meet that need will go a long way towards building an effective team.

Leaders must be cautious though. In forming a cohesive team, don’t let the “we” of the team completely overcome the “I” of the team member. Each team member is an individual. They each bring unique experience and perspective that adds to the larger team’s character.  It’s those differences that make the team more dynamic and if they are suppressed, the team will never reach its full potential.

Recognizing and encouraging the individuals on the team makes for a better team. While it’s necessary for team members to be dedicated to the team, it’s also necessary for the leader to be dedicated to the individual team members.

Recognizing and appreciating the “I” is what makes the best teams.



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