Level 2 Leadership – Working With Teams

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Level 1 – Being A Professional

A team player is simply a professional that makes a group benefit from working with them

  • Their awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses guides their tasks
    • They confidently take on tasks that match their strengths
    • Whatever they’re weak in is handed off to someone more capable
  • Shares a positive and contagious energy
    1. Knows how to have fun and relax
    2. Is very productive and gets things done
    3. Has big dreams and large ambitions

Great team members seek out good input

  • Surrounds themselves with good, productive, wise, insightful, inspirational people
    • Has an innate quiet confidence in their success that draws other successful people near them
    • Finds friends in coworkers, affiliates and extended network
    • Supports and fosters others by praising everyone around them
    • Expresses proper social skills in all situations
    • Believes that honesty and openness are the best policies when talking with others
  • Always open to ways to improve themselves by finding mentors
    • People in the industry that stand out as exceptional role models (people to imitate and be like someday)
    • People who give one-on-one guidance that correct and clarify worthwhile goals (a bit like a parental figure)
    • People who use negative reinforcement to inspire the person out of their laziness, comfort zone and expectations (motivates change)
    • Peers that perform exceptionally well

Team members put the group first over themselves

  • Looks for ways to hand off tasks to others who are more skilled in it or can learn from it
    • Asks politely with “can you help me?” and then gives silence to allow them to respond
    • Naturally creates teams wherever they go
  • Finds ways to get others to do the best they can
    • Holds others accountable for their actions
    • Has no problem with competition or others who do a better job than they do
  • Genuinely cares deeply for others’ advancement and professional development
  • Openly listens to others’ thoughts, concerns and input
    • Accepts criticism from others fully, even if they disagree with it
  • Only prefers telecommuting when they have to
    • They know their true benefit in a team comes from their identity, character and personality
  • Doesn’t expect anything from others beyond what is promised and what is guaranteed
    • Assumes ignorance in others before maliciousness
    • Doesn’t expect everyone to share the same priorities

Being on a team means understanding others are allowed to have their own viewpoints

  • Respects others’ achievements in their respective fields of expertise
    • Gives credit for others’ accomplishments
    • Has a humility about their own skills and capabilities
  • Respects that others have their own culture they’re coming from
  • Recognizes that not everyone prefers the same situations
    • Anyone might use a different tool, software or technique to accomplish the same result
    • Everyone has their own preference of work environment
  • Has no problem discussing deeper topics like religion or politics
    • Accepts others’ views with the respect that is entitled to everyone
    • Shares political views appropriately to the context of the conversation
    • Avoids making emotionally driven declarations of beliefs that come across as preaching or bluntness
    • Considers others’ views as less important to the task at hand than the work being done

Team players sense and consider the natural political moves of everyone

  • Who is more reputable and who has more input in the group dynamic
    • Who is invited to important meetings and who isn’t
  • Who has the different kinds of power
    • Legitimate Power that comes from a perceived formal right to make demands that others will follow
    • Reward Power from the ability to give incentives or reward for following commands
    • Expert Power from a high level of skills and knowledge
    • Referent Power from beliefs about attractiveness, worthiness and right to others’ respect
    • Coercive Power from the ability to punish others for not following commands
    • Informational Power from the ability to control information that others need to succeed
  • Who has lunch with whom
  • Who seems to know about coming changes and who seems to be last to know
  • Cultural taboos that cause irritation
  • Changes and adaptations of workplace culture and what is needed to accommodate for them
  • They know their place and fit inside of a corporate culture and don’t complain about it

A team player observes the stage of the team they are in

  1. Forming – relationships in the group are built, the goals are clarified, the team’s goals and tasks are clarified
    • Marked by avoiding conflict and relationships being formed
    • Avoiding conflict means very little is actually accomplished
    • Its length depends on how clear the tasks are defined and on everyone’s experience in the team
    • Autonomous people and complex or a variety of tasks will slow down this stage
    • The manager is very “hands-on” in this stage
  2. Storming – team members feel able to express and question opinions
    • More evidence of internal conflict
    • The manager will supportively direct nervous energy into something productive
    • Morale will dip as views are expressed strongly and differences between expectations and reality start showing
    • This will resolve relatively quickly without any guidance or support, and it’s necessary for the team to work better together
    • Team members will try to console and encourage everyone involved
    • If the manager tries to force through this stage it can splinter the team permanently
  3. Norming – team is now focused on resolving differences to define the mission and goals
    • Marked by trust, mutual respect, cohesion and harmony
    • Team members are learning more about each other and how they work together
    • Core standards about conduct, values and measuring performance start arising
    • The manager is now a team member with everyone else
    • The team starts developing a sense of team pride, and productivity increases as a result
  4. Performing – genuine benefits to the organization
    • Marked by high levels of loyalty, cohesiveness, shared work as an autonomous unit and decisions are made confidently
    • Work is completed at every stage, but this stage is the most productive
    • The manager is now an overseer and hands off tasks
    • Team members feel positive and eager to be part of the team
    • Everyone is confident about the outcome, openly communicates and highly energetic
    • Disagreement is expected and encouraged as long as it’s channeled through a meaningful process agreed on by the team

Team players see meetings as opportunities

  • Most meetings seem pointless to anyone who isn’t calling the meeting, but to say it’s pointless can sabotage a career
  • Prepares beforehand
    • Reads all of the required material
    • Silences mobile devices before entering
  • Avoids doing anything rude during the meeting
    • Doesn’t interrupt or try to talk over others
    • Doesn’t eat during the meeting unless everyone is eating
    • Stops any nervous habits that can be distracting like tapping a pen or drumming fingers
  • Positively contributes to the meeting
    • Brings a positive attitude and maintains positive body language
    • Listens openly to the discussion
    • Asks great questions to foster discussion and successfully influences the group’s key decisions
    • Generates great data-driven ideas to add to the group

Team players will avoid or limit time with toxic employees

  • There are many reasons toxic people can create office politics
    • They are re-creating personal family roles and therefore appealing to the bad behaviors inside all of us
    • There’s a feeling of revenge at work from feeling invalidated or inadequate in personal life
    • They are adults bullying in a grown-up playground
    • They are hungry for power because they believe that it will answer their life’s deepest problems
    • We are all this at one point or another in our past, and it is its own success to not fall into it
  • Power-grabbing people
    • Bullies
      • Gets satisfaction from bringing others down with verbal and intellectual intimidation
      • Openly belittles who others are and what they do except superiors
      • Often likes the “mentor” role with Favor-Gatherers
      • Becomes very malicious and vindictive when confronted or exposed and will often blame others at a small problem
    • Egomaniacs
      • They see themselves as the smartest person in the room
      • Will think they are always right and their ideas are automatically the best
      • Ironically, they will talk the most about “teamwork” to make passive-aggressive demands
      • Will often stay in physical peak condition and focus all conversation around self
    • Climbers
      • Always has to be on top and has no problem sacrificing others to gain their goals
      • Cares nothing for practical purposes of a position, purely driven by becoming superior
      • Sometimes they will appear to please others while in effect destroying them
      • They often cluster in groups with other Climbers outside of work, since they all have the same dream in different roles
    • Favor-Gatherers
      • Willing to please superiors by sacrificing self-respect and morals
      • Will usually bond with Egomaniacs while avoiding Climbers and Bullies
      • Tends to appear consistently cheerful with everyone, but are secretly trying to be liked the most
    • Trust-Mongers
      • Highly suspicious of others’ questions or interest
      • Intentionally withholds information from others out of fear of job security or competition
      • Won’t share important information that can benefit others in a group
      • Will often get defensive over simple things
  • Apathetic people
    • Loners
      • Purposely antisocial to the point of being offensive
      • Creates team divides from disliking group cohesion
      • To put up a social wall, will wear noise-cancelling headphones without music playing or always look at phone in conversation
    • Slackers
      • Provides barely adequate work and incomplete tasks
      • Usually creates more work for the rest of the team
      • Cannot be trusted to do anything
  • Ineffective people
    • Excessive Talkers
      • Shares too many personal details to the point of making people uncomfortable
      • Tells long stories that don’t interest anyone
    • Excessive Emailers
      • Often hates one-on-one interaction, and will send everything in an email
      • Sends too many emails and drags down a team’s productivity
      • Sometimes, the emails are a way of secretly hiding a malicious intent using someone’s words against them
    • Negative People
      • Complains about everything, but offers few to no solutions
      • Talks badly about people when they’re not listening
      • This can take the form of someone consistently unhappy with delivered results because of minor unimportant details
      • Generally very upset and unhappy people, stay away from them if you value your happiness
      • Will sometimes be unwilling to resolve conflicts on a neutral middle ground or will invalidate everything others say

There are ways to make work with dysfunctional people easier

  • Create healthy boundaries about expectations and desires
  • Assert professional distance when tasks are forced on you
    • If the tasks are being forced as “you do this”, politely say “no” and work for a shared benefit
  • Avoid losing your temper or patience when working with anyone difficult

Team players avoid dysfunctional teams and will change their lifestyle to avoid them

  • The highest risk of team dysfunction come from “teams” by name only
    • Managers setting goals, as opposed to teams setting their own internal goals
    • Team members are responsibile for only their own tasks instead of the team sharing the responsibility
    • The manager assigns tasks to individual team members instead of to the team as a whole unit
    • Feedback and discussions are only between the manager and team member instead of mostly between team members
  • The other extreme of team dysfunction risk comes from group-think
    • Group-think is the tendency to not think individually and personally on obvious issues and challenges that face the group
      1. The members will believe that their standards are higher than they really are and that they can’t fail
      2. There are rationalizations for everything to discredit legitimate warnings or negative feedback
      3. Everyone pressures everyone else to stay quiet in the group about any complaints or negative consequences
    • There are many negative results of group-think
      • Higher peer pressure against change or good things
      • A state of complacency when doing anything for the group
      • Very censored opinions by everyone in order to conform
      • Illusions about everyone agreeing on a decision
  • There are 5 stages of team dysfunction
    1. Absence of trust – unwillingness to admit mistakes, weaknesses or the need for help
      • Comes from an unwillingness to be vulnerable to one another
    2. Fear of conflict – fear of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate about key issues
      • This comes from strong distrust, and causes situations where the team’s conflicts are veiled discussions and implicating comments
    3. Lack of commitment – unwillingness to agree to anything without conflict to resolve the situation
      • Creates a lot of ambiguity that makes employees disgruntled, especially great employees
    4. Avoiding accountability – nobody is held responsible
      • No promises kept creates no clear plan of action, which makes everyone hesitant to call out others’ counterproductive actions
    5. No more focus on results – no longer seeing the need to achieve
      • Without any accountability, members will naturally put their personal interests over the needs of the team
      • Inevitable failure, since there is no longer a desire for success
Next: Level 3 Leadership – Creating Teams