As I talk with training and development professionals about leadership or management development programs, many indicate they plan to include a course on teambuilding, teamwork, or simply teams. They have a list of course topics and it is one of them. Other topics might include:
- Managing People
- Conflict Resolution
- Coaching and Counseling
- And the list goes on…
These courses are seen as the basics managers need, and many times, are developed from training providers’ offering list. This basic list has been used for generations. The courses on these lists have been developed over time, with occasional updates, yet they are still influenced by historic scientific management principles. The management principles that are embedded deep within our psyche.
Those principles do not address the social realities of organizational life. They fail to position a group of people in an organization with a correct understanding of the nature of what it means to be a social system within a social system, even though that accurately defines a team.
If a team is by nature a social system within a social system, then the inherent social realities in that system need to be understood by those who lead groups of people. For instance, it is a reality in a social system that changing any part of the system, requires every other part of the system to adapt to that change. That means that if you take any action, or fail to act, in relation to any person in your group there is some impact on everyone else in the group. If we consider the course list above, then:
- Your management of each individual affects all others on the team.
- Conflict between any two people and its resolution, or lack thereof, has an impact on the entire team.
- Feedback, whether counseling or coaching, to a team member and his response affects everyone else on the team.
- Each person on the team feels the effect of your delegation practices to the rest of the team.
- Everyone that is a part of your plan influences its success, whether that person helped develop it or not.
Consider your personal experience and you can probably validate these statements. Adding a teamwork course to the list above will surely limit the probability that the group will become a high performance, collaborative team.
Teamwork is not a practice among other management or leadership practices. Teamwork is the lens through which all other practices must be seen. Teamwork is a leadership mindset that then becomes each person’s mindset.
- When you resolve conflict, you make the choices that have a positive outcome on everyone.
- Feedback will be provided in a way that ensures the team as well as the individual is strengthened.
- Teams rely on empowerment and not delegation (see this past blog). When you give work away, you will do so in a way that builds the team.
- Your planning process will be inclusive, relying on collaborative input that ensures ownership so the entire team will engage in completing the plan.
Becoming a team is a mindset first, then if becomes practice. This begins with the leader.