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Five Myths About Teamwork And How To Mitigate Them

Written by: Julia Felton, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Teamwork is paramount to the success of any business and leaders need to understand that without every team member pulling together in the same direction (aka with the same purpose) then success is likely to be curtailed, maybe not in the short term but definitely over the longer term.


group of people holding hands and feeling together, arms raised in the sky.

Whilst individuals play the game it is teams that win championships whether that is in the sports arena or on the business playing field. Teamwork remains the ultimate competitive advantage in business today, because it is so powerful and rare.


“Not Finance. Not Strategy. Not Technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare” Patrick Lencioni

Benefits of being in a team:


  • Teams involve more people and therefore comprise more resources – time, ideas and energy – available than one individual would have

  • Teams allow the leaders to maximise their potential and minimise their weaknesses

  • Teams provide multiple perspectives on how to reach the goal, as each individual will see the problem in a different light. This allows for a creative flow of ideas, and the stumbling blocks that no one person might see can easily be navigated

  • Teams share the credit for victories and the blame for losses. This fosters genuine humility and authentic communication

  • Teams help keep leaders accountable for the goals

  • Teams can simply do more than the individual


So why do business leaders fail to harness their teams for success and what are some of the myths we believe about teams. I believe there are five myths that keep many leaders stuck, not operating effectively.


5 myths that keep many leaders stuck


Myth 1: Harmonious teams always compromise

Good teams are made up of a diverse group of people with different perspectives and needs. When this diversity is recognised and embraced it becomes a real strength that can help the team overcome roadblocks that might derail a project. So with this in mind it is important that within the team we identify the range of talents of all the team members and help team members understand the impact and contribution they can give to the team. Only then will team members feel engaged and motivated and want to actively participate.


Myth 2: Team conflict is unhealthy

Conflict can be healthy and should be harnessed for the common good, rather than suppressed. Conflict is an energy source that when directed towards the team’s primary goal or mission can help create momentum and actually move a project forward. The challenge comes from the fact that many people dislike conflict and so suppress it. This creates frustration and a negative build-up of energy that ultimately can derail a project. Better the conflicting energy is surfaced and channelled in a positive way to come up with new ideas and approaches that help drive the project forward rather than derail it


Myth 3: Most people like teamwork

Whilst we often think that people enjoy working in teams, after all humans are social animals and we enjoy interaction with others, research by the Wright Consultancy discovered that only 33% of the working population enjoyed teamwork, 33% of the working population preferred working alone and solo, whilst the remaining 33% were pretty neutral as to their stance. The challenge then for leaders is to know the drivers of the people in their teams and their preferred working style and then create roles that best leverage that person's skills and method of working


Myth 4: Teams are easy to influence and manage

Leading and managing teams requires a different set of skills from that required for day-to-day management. This is because when you are leading teams you need to be able to inspire and motivate others. Also, you need to practice and understand the difference between delegation and empowerment, as teams work best when given direction and then allowed to decide how to reach that goal themselves. Micro-management hampers engagement and stops innovation as team members need to feel that the leader has their back and trusts them implicitly to do the job


Myth 5: Senior Leaders encourage teamwork


Most leaders are anxious about teamwork and the potential loss of power or control. A study of European managers in the 1990’s discovered that whilst senior leaders outwardly encouraged teamwork internally they were uncomfortable with the process and the potential for it exposing their own weaknesses and loss of control. This then often results in office politics with one team withholding resources from another in order to exert their authority.


Much of this thinking is driven by fear because great leaders realise they always need to hire people better than themselves so that their weaknesses can be mitigated for the ongoing success of the business. When leaders realise that it is results that matter and not their ego, they become more collaborative and work together across various aspects of the business to achieve success.


Nature understands the importance of teamwork and how everything is interdependent and synergistic. This is what drives unity and harmony in nature. So perhaps there is something we can learn from it and apply to our own efforts at improving teamwork, because as in the words of Simon Mainwaring


“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefit of co-operating with one another”

Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook and visit my website for more on leadership and reinventing business. I also invite you to download my free eBook on Leading Teams Through Uncertainty and check out my latest book – Unbridled Business – on Amazon.


 

Julia Felton, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Julia Felton (aka The Business Wrangler) is the founder of Business HorsePower, a leadership and team engagement company. She is passionate about disrupting the status quo and discovering new ways to run and lead businesses, so they are fit for purpose in the 21st century. She believes that a model on how to reinvent business exists in nature and herds of horses that embrace the principles of connection, collaboration, and community to work effectively together. By aligning purpose with actions, the team achieves exponential results because everyone starts pulling in the same direction and feels inspired to show up for work every day, knowing they are making a difference in the world. Julia is a leading authority on Unbridled Leadership. The author of two books, Unbridled Business: Unlocking Nature’s Wisdom To Reinvent Leadership & Unbridled Success: How The Secret Lives of Horses Can Impact Leadership, Teamwork & Communication. She is the host of IMPACTFUL: The Podcast and a C-Suite and CEO Mentor, consultant, trainer, and speaker.

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