You may have come across the words, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” but if not, you’ve read them now. Over the past year they have revisited often and served as a guidepost, a self-check of intention and ultimately, a trigger to reflect on the best way to produce results typically beyond reach as an individual. As my project tenure of more than three years nears end, it seems a tailor-made moment to share what the word Team has meant.
Ahead are a few takeaways from “the team formerly known as retail.” An eclectic, eccentric bunch, we shaped into all the gears and cogs needed to create our desired output. And we did it with co-autonomy, laughs, and a few cries too.
Your Way Will Do, And More
It’s great to perform, obviously, but it can often come with the conjoined pitfall of thinking there is only one way forward. Another one is confusing requests for information to be asks on how to do something. This applies to seasoned professionals and those beginning their careers too. Handholding doesn’t only risk being controlling, it prevents team members from being self-sufficient and owning areas of work. “Takes direction well” is passé, while “finds a way” is here to stay.
Throw in the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias identified in a 1999 study. That is, being aware of it is in itself a measure to guard against it while interacting with peers and colleagues. Among other points the effect indicates:
1.People with lesser knowledge tend to be unaware of it and can rate themselves too highly.
2. People with more knowledge tend to be unaware of how difficult tasks can be for others.
We may all be playing out multiple roles on the knowledge spectrum simultaneously. Why not keep this in mind then and keep humility in sight. Chances are each of us lacks knowledge in not one but many areas, and we deserve both kindness and patience to allow learning to be a reality.
Share the Limelight
The above two sections intend to contribute to an empowering, nurturing environment, so what comes next? Partnering, collaborating on a given objective goes beyond healthy discussion and review when drafting deliverables. A step further is proactively rotating who leads intra-team and client activities.
This creates organic growth opportunities: increased visibility raising each individual’s profile and skill development at managing discussion, surely an artform. Byproducts include a spreading of accountability, prevention of information bottlenecks, and avoiding overreliance on one or a few individuals.
Asked what I love the most about teams, my answer was “winning together,” with the undercurrent to that being to see a teammate take on a challenge and succeed. How powerful can working as a team be? I see it as exponential. Empowered, expressive, collaborative people create at a rate of “1+1=3” and “3 to 5 is more than 20,” writes Ray Dalio in his masterclass, Principles.
A short while ago the team convened in a city none of us call home. Nothing new there except for it likely being the last time we would all be together, be it at the office or out for dinner. I couldn’t help remark how far we had come as a group and as individuals in such a short time. That’s how this blog came about, and it’s why I’m so excited to carry forward with my next team. Zero doubt about what we will achieve together.
There is one more descriptor that needs to be called out to produce the rate of output mentioned above. Transparency. In communication, in happiness, and failure. Mostly in humour though, that’s the key.
Monem Ansari Learning and Change Management Consultant Toronto