“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”– H. E. Luccock
There is very little of great consequence that we can do alone. Being human, we also prefer to do things together – to share ideas, to share skills, to share journeys.
Being part of an effective team requires acknowledging that we can’t do everything alone and that we require each valuable member of that team to add to the journey and the outcome. Whether we’re talking about our team at home, our team at work, or the group of people that make up our friendship circle, the same fact is true:
If any one person were the same as the person next to them, one of them would not be necessary.
Our value lies in our individuality – in the strengths, traits, values and viewpoints that each of us contributes to the whole. It is the diversity that each of us offers that broadens the perspective and skill base of that team. It is because we are unique that we can see things from different angles and complete a wider and more detailed picture of what we’re trying to achieve.
Often, we get bogged down trying to do things alone. We become overwhelmed by the moving target that what we’re trying to achieve can become, and we disconnect from each other to conserve our own energy. We forget that being part of a team means we have a myriad of skills to draw from, and that a simple conversation with another teammate may give us insight into how to do things differently. We narrow our focus to our job descriptions and start to think of each other as defined by our allocated roles. (This is as true in our families as it is at work) We forget that each of us is a complex, multi-layered bank of varied experience, and we stop having the conversations to draw that out.
We are all energised by feeling purposeful – by feeling valued, and by working to our strengths. We gain energy from the clarity of understanding what we’re working towards and exactly what our part is in achieving that outcome. We feel significant when our contribution is asked for and honoured.
Generating and directing the energy that inspires us is made up of all these components.
We may initially be energised to move towards a certain team goal, but as time goes on and we travel the journey to get to that goal, the hurdles and detours can take their toll on us. Re-grounding and re-charging ourselves and our teams can be done by reminding ourselves and each other what each of us brings to the table.
A simple exercise to get this conversation started is for the team to focus on each team member at a time and volunteer one or two strengths that they see in that team member. That team member can write those strengths down for digestion later. Once the whole team have weighed in on that person’s strengths, that team member can volunteer any areas they’re passionate about and feel strong in that may not have been mentioned.
Next, that team member is asked to volunteer their weaknesses – the areas where they don’t think they’re particularly strong. (We can only ask someone to volunteer their weaknesses (or areas for development) as pointing them out ourselves doesn’t work well.)
This can feel uncomfortable, vulnerable even. The point of volunteering our weaknesses is acknowledging that we’re part of a team. The chances are good that someone on your team has strengths that cover your weaknesses – that the whole point of a team! Knowing which people on our team complement us allows us to know where we might go for help, and who we can help out with our strengths.
If no one on the team is able to cover an area of weakness that impacts the outcomes of that team, it’s highly valuable to know where your gaps are so that you can work to fill them and keep your team strong.
Extensions of this kind of conversation allow us to ask our team for their viewpoint on anything we might be aiming at. As mentioned, asking for each other’s contribution to the whole adds to our perspective and activates that central space within a team where ideas can be batted around and considered. This central space is what keeps us all on the same page and moving towards the same goals.
The definition of a team is individual skill sets and strengths working towards a common goal. When we can trust each other to step into our strengths, to be accountable for our part of the equation, and to help to expand the grand picture towards a greater team outcome – our teams become powerful vehicles for realisations that allow us all to feel purposeful.
by Christen Killick
June 28th, 2021