Everyone talks about the importance of being a team player and working together to create success, but what does this actually mean?
One of the popular misconceptions about teams is the importance of the leader relative to everyone else. Yes, team leaders are important but no more important than the members. Everyone has a role, and whilst each role may be different, each role is as important as the others for a team to function effectively. Another misconception is that you have to have a particular ‘personality’ to be a successful leader. False – many excellent team leaders do not fit a certain ‘mould’ they think others expect them to fit. Leaders should address weaknesses but also look to develop their unique strengths. It is often the bringing together of seemingly imperfect people that will lead to the creation of the most successful teams. So, how do you make teams work more effectively together? Team leader effectiveness is essential, but this will not go far if team members do not also support both the leader and each other. As the old saying goes, it is often the little things that really matter and a little day-to-day support goes a very long way. Below are some key principles for team members:
1. Positive regard for each other: It is not necessary to ‘like’ everyone in the team but it is essential to respect them and to show this in every interaction.
2. Listen to others: many people listen only for opportunities to get their own word in or to make a point. Listening effectively to what others have to say is essential to deep understanding of others’ needs, which is essential for both individual and team success.
3. Respond to the needs of others appropriately: many people ‘react’ rather than
respond. Reacting is often fuelled with emotions that get in the way of good relationships at work. Responding appropriately by channelling emotions is essential to addressing your own as well as your team’s needs.
4. Seek opportunities to provide support: people are generally focused on completing their own tasks and most will help only when asked. Be aware of your team members’ needs so you can offer the right level of support at the right time. This will jet propel both you and your team to high performance.
5. Provide feedback: many people shy away from offering negative feedback. Constructive feedback does not have to be negative but even when it is, offered in the right way, at the right time, is infinitely kinder than remaining silent. Positive feedback is also important and under-used. Well placed positive and constructive feedback delivered every day on the ‘little and often’ principle drives both individual and team performance.