Pick Team Players By Their Road Manners

Are you a team player? Everyone answers this question in the affirmative. ‘Of course I am!’, they say, until things don’t go their way.

I can tell the team players by the way they drive on the roads. Team players pull back and let you in, rather than speeding up to get ahead.

Team players don’t beep and gesticulate when you (like I did last week) put my blinker on to turn right to then realise I’d be crossing an unbroken line (I’m a rule follower too and I was in an unfamiliar part of town), and then turned off the blinker and kept going. The gentleman (loose term) behind me had sped up to pass me (he shouldn’t have been that hasty, I had hardly even slowed down) and then of course gave me ‘the look and the finger’ as he passed as if to say ‘what kind of idiot driver are you’.

Well, one that is human and occasionally makes mistakes in unchartered territory…you idiot!

Teamwork is a mindset more than a skillset. People who perform well in teams have a different mindset than those who perform well as individual experts.

Team players understand that:

  • Nobody is perfect yet everybody is perfect – just as they are
  • Every team player has a part to play and a valuable contribution – and those contributions aren’t measured and compared
  • Everyone in the team is well-intentioned – if a mistake is made or an emotional response occurs, they are curious to explore and support, not blame and dismiss
  • When the individual and diverse strengths in the team are combined, and weaknesses are accepted and worked around, magic happens
  • When a team member is down, we ‘cover till they recover’
  • How the team functions, is the critical foundation for how the team performs.

High performing sporting teams do this well. They also know that buying in a top player will not necessarily improve team performance if the team doesn’t gel or if that player is more focused on their own performance statistics than winning the game – an increasingly challenging issue in professional basketball.

Corporate giant, Google, as a result of their own internal research project, believe that ‘who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.

SQ and EQ (social intelligence and emotional intelligence) is a much better predictor of team performance than IQ – or in the case

Our Leading Humans T.R.E.A.T Model is a journey designed for individuals to work on becoming a team that works like a TREAT!.

T: Trust and Transparency

Trust is foundational to great teamwork. You must work as a team to create the psychological safety that allows people to bring their best. Remember – ‘no triangles’. Trust requires the three key characteristics of substance Leadership (TM) – Vulnerability, Humility and Curiosity.

As organisations break down silos and hierarchies, they can no longer work without transparency. The complexity of work requires all parties to have access to all relevant information and nuances. The team leader plays a critical role in ensuring transparency.

R: Relationships and Respect

Put effort into building strong professional relationships. This takes time, but is well worth the effort.

Respect others differences, and remember the platinum rule ‘Do unto others as they would have you do unto them!’. It’s not all about you!

E: Expectations and Energy

Relationships are easier when expectations on both sides are clear, and the consequences of not meeting those expectations are also clear. Conversations around expectations – what you need, and what you can give – are essential to agile and effective collaborative working relationships.

Understanding where the teams gets its energy from, and what drains energy can help to avoid periods of non-conscious non-performance.

A: Alignment and Acceptance

Because humans are wired very differently, and we make many assumptions that is we make cognitive leaps based on our own wiring and experience achieving alignment is a time-consuming process that needs to be given priority.

Humans are fallible. Great teams are OK with that. They accept what happens and then focus on what’s next. They put themselves in the shoes of their teammates and are accepting and curious rather than judgemental.

T: Truth telling and Total Commitment

Truth-telling is more difficult than it sounds and teams need to work together to create the ‘safety’ rules around this important process.

Total Commitment to a team means being able to commit to a team direction or decision, even when you may not have agreed with it.

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