How Does Your Definition of “Team” Define Your Leadership Style?

​In a January 2021 podcast interview, Simon Sinek shared with Brené Brown his latest (new favorite) insight around the concept of teams. Here’s what he said:

“Faith is knowing you’re on a team even if you don’t know who the players are.”

It’s a pretty profound concept. And it speaks a lot to perspectives on what’s needed to build momentum around a common vision and goals. Clearly, a team is needed. And yet it may not be the team you currently have or think you need, but one that does exist even if you don’t yet know how or when it will develop, what it will look like, or who its members will be.

So here’s a question: When you think about the words “team” or “teamwork,” what’s your definition? And what does that reflect about your leadership? Some of us have very traditional ideas while others of us have knocked over the apple cart, completely redesigning that conventional org chart to mobilize company culture around a different concept of “team.”

In our 60+ years working in organization and leadership development, we at Management Action Programs (MAP) have seen changes to how leaders approach team design and dynamics. One client shared with us that their company org chart, which looks like a bicycle. The company co-owners are the two pedals, one part of many within a management system rolling smoothly along. No doubt, organizations with conventional approaches succeed, as do those with alternative approaches. Yet what we’ve seen, regardless of approach or how they define “team,” are some common underpinnings to their success, specifically characteristics that help teams soar. These are teams…

Designed with “we” in mind. When MAP’s consultants coach clients around the benefit of focusing less on “I” or “me” and more on “us” or “we,” the positive impact on the leadership of these clients is significant. A few quick, easy ways to do that: recognize daily team wins, even if seemingly small; work to replace “I/me” language with more “us/we” words; and don’t take credit when collaboration is the cause for success.

Built around accountability. This isn’t about being “tough” or “authoritarian,” it’s about hitting goals in a way that’s equitable and productive. Accountability, using proven tools like the MAP Vital Factors® System, establishes goals and controls around your vital measures of success. The critical transparency plus the execution and action around performance level the playing field so everyone is empowered to have a real shot at success. The result: a stronger team and more united, winning culture.

Reflecting focused leadership. If you’re spotting struggles among your team, it’s a clue to examine the state of your leadership. What does their performance and behavior say about your ability to focus on what’s vital and lead effectively? Find out! Then, hold yourself accountable, taking corrective action where it’s needed. Build focus around your own leadership, and your team’s performance and behaviors will better reflect focus, too.

Want to learn more? Improve leadership effectiveness through executive coaching and the MAP Vital Factors® System.

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