Teamwork: From Cliche to Reality
This morning I participated in #leadupchat. It's a collaborative platform for edu leaders. It happens on Saturday mornings at 9:30 CT. Today was my first chat and it was AWESOME. Literally.
The topic was on building great teams. Building teams is something near and dear to my heart. As a former coach and athlete (basketball-I still have a mean crossover. Ask the kids at my school!), I believe and know the power of teamwork. But I also know that teamwork is hard, heart work. We underestimate how very difficult it is to build great teams.
As much as I've tried to filter over the years, there are some things that need to be told in raw form. Let's just be honest. It is hard to work together. Especially if you are working with a person or group of people you don't trust, don't respect, or don't like. Now, I'm sorry but I have to share this thought. Those folks who say, "I can work with anybody" are just pretending. Perhaps you can pretend to work with them or go along to get along, but real working together is messy, complicated, taxing, and fun and rewarding at the same time. True teams embrace the hard parts because they know the payoff is greater than the moment. As leaders, one thing we have to do when we start encouraging people to work together is acknowledge how difficult it is. Alert them that it will not be easy, but if they can find the courage to agree to work through it all for a cause greater than themselves it will be worth it. This is why I love the concept of PLCs. Real PLCs make it happen. Below, please find my thoughts from this morning's #leadupchat on building great teams. Each tweet is accompanied by what I like to call a "Latoya translation" (LT), which means here's the raw truth.
1. Great teams are honest and confront issues head on. As I used to tell staff-Sometimes you have to fall out to get together.
LT: Quit pretending like the issue isn't there. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, eat him first-one bite at a time. Oh, and be nice about it.
2. Great teams learn from other great teams. They look for great models of collaboration!
LT: The will of one might be inspirational but why try doing the same work four different ways instead of multiplying the strategy's effect by putting forth a focused effort. One person can't do two people's work-no matter how smart you are...or you think you are (just saying-to myself also)
3. Great teams get this: The power of WE is greater than the power of me!
LT: It's not about you!
4. Great teams use an ALL IN mentality. Call out team members when they lose focus. Understand the power of togetherness is > I.
LT: There is no 50% model of teamwork. It's all the way or no way. Go hard and all in or go home!
5. Great teams are relentless in pursuit of their goals. They don't let up and instead of thinking we can't they think why can't we?
LT: Quit trying to anticipate the obstacles. Instead think about how you can prove all the negative naysayers wrong. Find a way to say yes!
6. Resilient teams use falling short as a catalyst. They view their shortcoming as a trampoline instead of a ditch! #Getup!
LT: No matter what happens, when a team knows and has a purpose, lying down is not an option. Stop looking for a miracle of hero. Remember-the hero lies in you! Be your own hero!
7. Great teams understand that relationship building takes deep work. They give the lingo more real time and less air time.
LT: Get to know those you don't understand and who aren't a carbon copy of you. You'll be better for it. We often fear what we don't understand and my mother always told me do not allow fear to stop you from doing anything! That includes the fear of learning something about yourself that you might need to work on! (Side note: I'm working on being less opinionated. I'm not sure this blog is helping. Funny, but true.)
8. Great teams aren't afraid to disagree. They value the process as much as the product. Great teams see conflict as an opportunity to mine for the best solution and not as disharmony. Conflict breeds solutions!
LT: A disagreement is the beginning of progress. Don't be discouraged by it! And if there are no disagreements on your team ring the alarm! The folks who agree all the time win Oscars and Golden Globes (hint hint)!
9. Great teams appreciate diversity of thought. They are able to consider ideas that they may initially not agree with as well.
LT: everybody doesn't and shouldn't think like you. We are products of our experiences. Challenge yourself to not just hear an idea but to LISTEN to it and consider it. This takes lots of practice. (Hard to believe I know, but I am still working on this)
10. On a great team, personal emotions run low & team emotions run high. All team members understand they are working for a cause greater than self.
LT: Get control of your emotions. The work may require a personal investment but don't take things personally. Don't internalize everything that isn't aligned with your thinking as an attack on your skills. See number 3.
11. Great teams understand the impact of professional jealousy and egos. They have honest and open conversation in order to do the real work.
LT: Now nobody wants to admit this but it's a real issue in any organization. Understand that the success of someone else isn't a deduction from your worth to the organization. Understand that when your personal pride becomes the center piece of your work, your humility will be on display shortly for all to see if you don't swallow it.
That's all for today and as my Grandmother would say, I think that's a plenty!
Until next time-be you, be true, be a hope builder!