Saturday, March 17, 2012

What makes teams work

Today's Business Lessons

What makes teams work

By Francis J. Kong 
(The Philippine Star) Updated March 18, 2012 

AChinese scholar was lecturing when all the lights in the auditoriumwent out. He asked members of the audience to raise their hands. Assoon as they had all complied, the lights went on again. He then said,“Proven wisdom of Old Chinese ‘Many hands make light work.’” This is the power of teamwork.

One of us is not as strong as all of us. The firefighter holding the ladder is as important as the firefighter holding the hose.

Have you ever wondered why certain teams could not function? Haveyou ever found yourself totally frustrated with the people you workwith, and you just can’t find yourself making any progress in meeting your business objectives?

One thing you and I need to remember is this: IF YOU CANNOT WORK AS A TEAM, YOU ARE ONLY A GROUP.

Dr. John Maxwell says, “It takes team work to make the dream work.”And then he follows it up with this thought, “The level of your teamshould be equal to the level of your dream.”

In a scene from the movie Ben Hur, Judah Ben Hur was trying to get ateam of horses to pull a chariot. They were magnificent, high-spiritedanimals, yet they were merely pawing the ground, balking at hiscommands, and scarcely moving the chariot despite his strong voice andthe constant cracking of his whip. An old horse trainer approached themand instantly put his finger on the problem. He told young Judah BenHur, “They are not pulling together as a team!” The old man adjustedthe rig, carefully aligned the horses, and climbed into the chariot. Hecracked his whip, and instantly, the four horses started as one. Aroundthe track they went at breathtaking speed. As he handed the reins backto Judah, the old man said, “They are beautiful babies, but you mustmake them work together as a team.”

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it,teamwork is impossible. The kind of trust that is characteristic of agreat team requires team members to make themselves vulnerable to oneanother and to be confident that their respective vulnerabilities willnot be used against them. These vulnerabilities include weaknesses,skill deficiencies, inter-personal shortcomings, mistakes and requestsfor help.
Now let me point out one important thing: The leader of the team is the key to making this work.

The most important action that a leader must take to encourage thebuilding of trust on a team is to demonstrate vulnerability first. Thisrequires that the leader risk losing face in front of the team so thatsubordinates will take the same risk themselves. Team leaders mustcreate an environment that doesn’t punish vulnerability.

Some leaders would never admit their mistakes, and would just putthe blame on everyone and everything except themselves. This is becauseof the old antiquated thinking that has perverted the ranks of leaders:that admission of being wrong and mistaken is a sign of weakness. Thisis so untrue. The truth is that, it takes a lot of courage, honor andcharacter for the leader to admit his or her mistake. And this kind ofadmission creates a culture of honesty and transparency within theteam. The authenticity on the part of the leader would for sure trickledown to the team members.

In my seminars, I remind people that team members are more thanwilling to forgive us for our mistakes as 
long as we are honest enoughto admit them and rectify the mistakes. What people would not forgiveare leaders who pretend to be perfect.

Anyone who thinks he or she is, should be crucified on the cross. For no one else but Jesus Christ is Perfect.