I’ve observed in the last few years organizations are placing a much heavier importance on leadership and team development than say, ten years ago. I think the reason for this is fairly straightforward. The organizations left standing today have pretty much figured out how to flatten their organizational structures. They have improved their operations. And they have put in place tracking systems that allow them to measure their performance.
What is left to building the organization are the people. And they are not anywhere as easy to deal with or manage! People are messy and anyone who has been in leadership knows this all too well.
If you are providing guidance to your organization —at any level— then you know getting a group of individuals to work together as a cohesive team to achieve aligned results isn’t easy. In fact, it’s the most difficult thing for any leader to accomplish.
There are three myths that surround this endeavor of keeping your team on track. Knowing what they are and how to move through them speeds up any team in any organization.
Myth 1: Meetings are boring.
Although many meetings are boring, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, meetings can be fun if they are led with a clear purpose in mind. Do you go into your meetings with an agenda? Most do. That’s usually a mistake because what was important when the “Agenda” was prepared could easily not be important now. Instead of an agenda, why not start with what’s on the mind of those in the meeting? Patrick Lencioni has a lot to say about this topic. After three decades of executive management consulting I can attest that working on the team’s top priorities followed by a decisive action by the team, trumps a general laundry list of topics that are rehashed and then kept on the list until the next meeting.
Myth 2: Successful teams like each other.
The odds of everyone on a team truly liking each other is far from reality. I would say there are a lot teams that have members that actually dislike each other. Not to the point of insulting each other but enough to disrupt getting things done. If this is the case it’s difficult to get people to work together, but it’s not impossible. First of all, team members who don’t like each other much don’t know much about each other. Where they grew up. How many siblings they had. What life was like for them growing up. All of these personal histories are important to fill in to begin building a bridge of understanding. Is it easy? No, but it is worth doing because it’s more natural for people to want to get along than fight. Team members don’t have to become best friends to work effectively. But they do have to trust each other to bring value to their team. Once all team members believe this it’s a lot easier to build a cohesive team.
Myth 3: Rules are to be avoided.
There is an enormous misconception that rules destroy creativity. I have found the opposite to be true. Teams without rules rarely get anything important accomplished. They run in different directions without the help and benefit of their team members. When you add up their team’s overall results you might find some individual accomplishments. But they come at the expense of the team’s overall success and typically lead to their downfall. It is much more important to know what everyone should be doing and what they should be avoiding, based on a specific set of rules. Basic ground rules tell the team how to operate from the time they start a project to the time it is completed. Rules also provide a basis of evaluation which is healthy. It builds team spirit and that’s always productive.
When leading a team knowing how to debunk these myths will fuel the energy of your team. And if you’re a team member knowing these myths and not allowing yourself or your team members to fall prey to them will make you a valuable team member indeed.