Leadership 201: Working With Teams (Level 2)

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Level 1 – Being A Professional

A team player is a professional who benefits a group benefit through working with them

Their awareness of strengths and weaknesses guides their tasks

  • They confidently take on tasks that match their strengths and hand off weaker responsibilities to others

They share a positive and contagious energy

  1. Knows how to have fun and relax
  2. Very productive and gets things done
  3. Has huge dreams and ambitions

Great team members seek healthy feedback

Surrounds themselves with good, productive, wise, insightful, inspirational people

  • Has innate quiet confidence in their success which draws other successful people
  • Finds friends in co-workers, affiliates, and extended network
  • Supports and fosters others by praising everyone they talk to
  • Expresses proper social skills
  • Believes honesty and openness are the best policies in communicating

Openly listens to others’ thoughts, concerns, and input

  • Fully accepts criticism from others, even if they disagree with it

Always open to improving themselves from mentors

  • Industry leaders who stand out as exceptional role models (people to imitate and be like someday)
  • One-on-one guides who correct and clarify worthwhile goals (somewhat like a parental figure)
  • Negative reinforcers who inspire them out of their laziness, comfort zone, and expectations (motivates change)
  • Peers who perform exceptionally well

Team players only prefer telecommuting when they have to

  • They know their real benefit comes from sharing their identity, character, and personality

Team members place the group over themselves

Avoids overstepping small boundaries

  • Listens to their music quietly enough to not disrupt anyone else
  • Makes lunch choices which don’t send odors throughout the workplace
  • Keeps their workplace clean and tidy enough to not distract co-workers
  • Cleans up any messes in common areas like kitchenettes
  • Notifies about supplies which run low

Looks for ways to hand off tasks to members who can learn from it or do it better

  • 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 inspire others to do their best

  • Holds others accountable for their actions
  • Has no problem with competition or others who do a better job
  • Thanks others for the tasks they do on a regular basis
  • Genuinely cares for others’ advancement and professional development

Doesn’t expect anything from others beyond what others promised and guaranteed

  • Assumes others’ ignorance before maliciousness
  • Doesn’t expect everyone to share the same priorities

Great team members understand others have the right to their views

Respects others’ achievements in their fields of expertise

  • Gives credit for others’ accomplishments
  • Humble about their skills and capabilities

Respects others have their own background culture

  • Recognizes not everyone prefers the same situations
  • Anyone might use a different tool, software or technique to accomplish the same result
  • Everyone has a preferred work environment

Has no problem discussing more in-depth topics like religion or politics

  • Accepts others’ views with respect entitled to everyone
  • Shares political views appropriate to the conversation’s context
  • Avoids making emotionally driven declarations of belief which come across as preaching or bluntness
  • Considers others’ views as less important to the task at hand than doing the work

Team players sense and consider the group’s natural politics

Who is more reputable or has more input in the group dynamic?

  • Who is or isn’t invited to important meetings?

Who has the types of power?

  • Legitimate Power comes from a perceived formal right to make demands
  • Reward Power is the ability to give incentives for following commands
  • Expert Power comes from a high level of skills and knowledge
  • Referent Power comes from beliefs about attractiveness, worthiness, and right to others’ respect
  • Coercive Power comes from the ability to punish others for not following commands
  • Informational Power comes from the ability to control information others need to succeed

Who has lunch with whom?

Who seems to know of coming changes and who appears to know last?

Which cultural taboos actively irritate the group?

What changes and adaptations are coming into the workplace culture and what do the members have to change to conform to them?

Professionals know their place and fit inside a corporate culture and don’t complain about it

A team forms through several stages

A. Forming – relationships established in the group, goals are clarified, the manager defines the team’s goals and tasks

  • Marked by avoiding conflict and relationships formed
  • Avoiding conflict yields very little work accomplished
  • Its length depends on how clear tasks are defined and everyone’s experience in the team
  • Autonomous people, complicated tasks, or a variety of tasks will slow down the Forming stage
  • The manager is very “hands-on” in this stage

B. Storming – team members feel capable of expressing and questioning opinions

  • More evidence of internal conflict
  • The manager will try to direct nervous energy into something productive
  • Morale will dip when strongly expressed views and differences between expectations and reality appear
  • Storming will resolve relatively quickly without any guidance or support and is necessary for the team to work together
  • Team members will try to console and encourage everyone involved
  • A manager who tries to force through this stage can permanently splinter the group

C. Norming – team focuses on resolving differences to define the mission and goals

  • Marked by trust, mutual respect, cohesion, and harmony
  • Team members learn more about each other and how they work together
  • The team sets core standards about conduct, values, and measuring performance
  • The manager is now a team member with everyone else
  • The team starts developing a sense of team pride and productivity increases from it

D. Performing – genuine benefits to the organization

  • Marked by high levels of loyalty, cohesiveness, shared work as an autonomous unit, and confident decisions
  • The team completes work at each stage, but Performing is the most productive
  • The manager is now an overseer who delegates tasks
  • Team members feel confident and eager to be part of the team
  • Everyone is optimistic about the outcome, openly communicates, and is highly energetic
  • Everyone expects disagreement and encourages it as long as members channel it through a meaningful process the team agrees on

Team players see meetings as opportunities

Most meetings seem pointless to anyone not calling the meeting, but calling a meeting pointless can sabotage a career

They prepare beforehand

  • Reads all the required materials
  • Silences mobile devices before entering

Avoids anything rude during the meeting

  • Doesn’t interrupt or try to talk over others
  • Doesn’t eat during the meeting unless everyone else is eating
  • Stops any distracting nervous habits 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 excellent questions to foster dialogue and successfully influences the group’s key decisions
  • Adds excellent data-driven ideas to the group

Team players avoid or limit time with toxic employees

Toxic people create office politics for many reasons

  • They are re-creating personal family roles and appealing to the unhealthy behaviors inside everyone
  • They feel invalidated or inadequate in private life and vengeful through work
  • They’re adults bullying in a grown-up playground
  • They believe power and control will answer their life’s most profound problems
  • We all have their destructive base desires, and we have to rise above them

Power-grabbing people


  • Gets satisfaction from bringing others down through verbal and intellectual intimidation
  • Openly belittles non-superiors and their performance
  • Often plays a “mentor” role with Favor-Gatherers
  • Becomes malicious and vindictive when confronted or exposed and will often blame others for small problems


  • See self as the smartest person in the room
  • Thinks they’re 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 peak physical condition and focus all conversation around self


  • Always has to be on top and has no problem sacrificing others to gain their goals
  • Purely driven to the next job and cares nothing for the practical purposes of a position
  • Sometimes will appear to please others while in effect destroying them
  • They often cluster with other Climbers in groups outside work, since they all have the same dream in different roles


  • 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 secretly trying to get everyone to like them the most


  • Highly suspicious of others’ questions or interest
  • Intentionally withholds information from others from fear of job security or competition
  • Won’t share relevant information which can benefit the group
  • Will often become defensive over simple things

Apathetic people


  • Purposely antisocial to the point of rudeness
  • Creates team divisions from disliking group cohesion
  • Will wear noise-canceling headphones without music playing or always look at their phone in conversation to put up a social wall


  • Provides barely adequate work and incomplete tasks
  • Usually creates more work for the rest of the team
  • The rest of the team can’t trust them to do anything

Ineffective people

Excessive Talkers

  • Shares too many personal details and makes others uncomfortable
  • Tells long stories which don’t interest anyone
  • Sometimes gossips about others instead of themselves

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
  • Emails sometimes secretly hide a malicious intent to use someone’s words against them

Negative People

  • Complains about everything, but offers few to no solutions
  • Talks poorly of others when they’re not listening
  • Might be consistently unhappy with results from minor, unimportant details
  • Generally upset and unhappy people, so avoid them if you value your happiness
  • Sometimes unwilling to resolve conflicts on a neutral middle ground or will invalidate others’ statements

You can’t always avoid toxic employees, but you can make the experience easier

Avoid losing your temper or patience when working with difficult people to avoid looking like a bully or confrontational

Practice charm and dignity whenever you’re with them

  • Avoid spreading any gossip or lies
  • Don’t mix your dysfunctions with theirs

Create healthy boundaries with expectations and desires

Assert professional distance when others force tasks on you

  • If they force tasks on you as “you do this”, politely say “no” and offer a shared work alternative

Great team players change their lifestyle to avoid dysfunctional teams

The most dangerous team dysfunction is in “teams” by name only

  • Managers setting goals as opposed to teams setting personal goals to benefit the group
  • Team members responsible for only their tasks instead of the team sharing the burden
  • Manager assigns tasks to individual members instead of the team as a whole unit
  • Most feedback and discussions are solely between the manager and a team member instead of between the members

Team dysfunction often derives from group-think

Group-think is the tendency to not think individually and personally on apparent issues and challenges which face the group

  1. Members misjudge their standards as higher than reality and that they can’t fail
  2. They rationalize everything to discredit legitimate warnings or negative feedback
  3. Everyone pressures each other to stay quiet about any complaints or negative consequences

Group-think creates many negative results

  • Higher peer pressure against positive changes
  • State of complacency about group tasks
  • Highly censored opinions everyone publicly conforms to
  • Illusions about unanimous agreement on a decision

Team dysfunction decays through five stages

A. Absence of trust

  • Unwilling to admit mistakes, weaknesses or the need for help
  • Comes from a refusal to expose any vulnerability to one another

B. Fear of conflict

  • Fear of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate over critical issues
  • Comes from strong distrust and causes team conflicts through veiled discussions and implicating comments

C. Lack of commitment

  • Unwilling to agree to anything without a conflict
  • Creates significant ambiguity which disgruntles employees, especially the best employees

D. Avoiding accountability

  • Nobody is held responsible
  • Unfulfilled promises create an unclear plan of action
  • Everyone becomes hesitant to call out counterproductive behaviors

E. No more focus on results

  • The group no longer sees a need to achieve
  • Without accountability, members will naturally place personal interests over the team’s needs
  • Since the group no longer desires success, it inevitably fails

If you’re ever stuck in a dysfunctional team and don’t have enough influence to change it, find a new workplace immediately!

Next: Level 3 Leadership – Creating Teams