Six attributes of a team is all about behavior, demeanor and soft skills. The teamwork/soft skill relationship is very important but often times overlooked when recruiting teammates. Especially when the typical development objective is to take no prisoners, deliver at all costs and go as fast as lightning to get this way too important project completed as soon as possible. We tend to ignore the soft skills and go full speed ahead with the hard skills which is simply a terrible strategy. I learned this the hard way from “down in the trenches” lessons learned in over 25 fortune ranked Companies; but learned nonetheless.
I was speaking about Shared Leadership at a conference in Pasadena California back in 2009. A small business owner chimed in during the Q&A saying teamwork is something we all know. He went on to mention how TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. He said he knows too well how to play the teamwork game and how to get the most out of his resources.
I was hurt by this. I look at myself as a teammate and that description hurt me. Work is not a game, it’s work and teammates are not resources, they’re teammates. This guy was more interested in his quest to be recognized as a leader than his desire to actually deliver quality results for the good of his company; the one he chose to work for.
What’s missing here? Well for starters motive. This guy had no motive other than his personal agenda; his way or the highway. Maybe that’s why there’s always so much traffic on the highways! His plan is all too common but will never work in the long term; no chance. He needed to care first for the people (his equal), the team (or his teammates) then the projects they’re working on and finally the Company they all chose to work for.
I’ll keep this short but make no mistake, if your team is made up of these six attributes, you’ll have a much greater chance of success. It’s important too that I mention you must nurture the attributes already present and recruit teammates that possess what’s missing.
Six Attributes of a Team
Wisdom: For this attribute, you must’ve been around the block a few times and experienced at all levels; successes, failures and even the unexpected. If you’re all too confident almost like a know it all; this attribute is not for you so start recruiting. I suggest starting with someone older.
Communication: If you have something to say, say it. If you have a point to make, make it. If you have a question to ask, ask it. Otherwise, listen. Also, whatever it is you’re communicating, communicate it quickly. You must be grounded, calm and very attentive to be a good communicator. Also, you need to understand there’s written, spoken and visual communication; all effective and equally important. Don’t opt for an aggressive speaker or verbose writer, find the right person; ideally one with all three. Otherwise, recruit multiple people as communicators for your team. If you’re not a communicator, you must delegate (with trust) to your teammate that best communicates.
Networking: Are you reaching out beyond your immediate team? It doesn’t need to be work or project related to network but every networking source is a potentially new source of knowledge and information (oh and vice versa!). Think Paul Revere. If you have someone on your team like Paul Revere, that person is your networker. This person may not know all the answers or have the best solution to a problem, but can find someone who does; therefore, priceless. This person may not have a resume that truly speaks to his or her skills but often times is the difference between delivery and failure.
Commitment: OK but to whom or what? Not to yourself! To the team, project, and Company in that order. Notice you as an individual are not listed here. When the going gets tough, your commitment empowers you to stay and fight, rather than cut and run. If your teammates know they can count on you until the end of the project; that’s huge!
Leadership: In behavior, not job description. There’s a big miss here. I’ve worked for a fortune 100 company that preached leadership, leadership, leadership while the company stock went from $50 per share to $1 dollar per share! This Company actually budgeted billions (with a B) for out of compliance fines! Where exactly was the leadership? We MUST learn to lead ourselves, with our behavior regardless of our job description.
Leadership in behavior is a pre-requisite to Leadership in Title.
CARE: Listed last but the most important. You need to care. This is all about motive. Motive matters. When a team is authentically aligned in motive, mountains can be moved! For this one; channel ME! My Shared Leadership model is based on care or C.A.R.E. – Courage to take Action Relevant to Everyone. This acronym means if you have a solution to a problem but that solution has a negative impact on others, you must develop an alternative solution. Yes; even if it means project delay. Do you have the Courage to do that?
These six attributes will ensure at the very least a better chance of efficient delivery that will hold up over time, delivered not at the expense of others and delivered with less risk. Now name a company that wouldn’t want to be known for nurturing that model?
I can tell you there’s no conspiracy in the workplace. Our companies need us now more than ever. However, they need our absolute “A” game. If your team is made up of these six attributes, you have a better chance of delivering your “A” game.
So, share, nurture, assess, recruit and proceed with a sense of urgency!
Charlie Lobosco is a Shared Leadership Expert, Agile Coach, Trainer, Scrum Master and Teammate.
Charlie is co-founder (with Eva Lewandowski) of The Visionop Group LLC; a consulting coaching and training company making a difference in our lives, our career, and the world!