Have you ever heard these sayings?

  • “Team is not just a group of people but a group of people who trust each other.”
  • “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM. But there is a ‘me’ in team!”
  • “TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.”

All the above statements can be considered true, but the last two are negative because they are talking about the individual person. Within a poorly functioning team, there may be an individual or many individuals which are focused on getting the greatest personal benefit they can from the team. It is important as a leader that we influence these individuals to believe in a common, greater vision. We need each member of the team to trust each other and to trust you as a leader.

Let’s look at one of my favorite candies, the dark chocolate peanut butter cup. From the outside, it looks delicious and all you can think about is that first bite that blends the chocolate layer with the creamy peanut butter on the inside. What if you went to take a bite and instead of the delicious combination, you experience the emptiness of peanut butter. Just crumbled chocolate. How are you going to feel? Disappointed. Not excited. This is a boring hollow piece of chocolate; it is like those chocolate bunnies you get during Easter that are hollow on the inside. No thank you.

The peanut butter filling is what makes the piece of candy complete and special; it is what sets it apart from the other candies. This metaphor is like a team with trust. A team without trust is just a group of people fighting for individual glory. But the team with that creamy, delicious, mouth-watering peanut butter is what makes it special. How can you gain the trust of your team? And how can you ensure that team members trust one another?

Words are only words but your actions speak so much more. Within your team, it is important to deeply know about each team member. What are their passions, what motivates them, what are their strengths and weaknesses, etc? Knowing more than surface level information allows for greater collaboration as people can more effectively fill roles. As leaders, we need to be transparent and honest with the team. If there is something that you struggle with but someone else on your team excels at, then let them lead that area. This shows the person you trust them. The other message is the team knowing you are willing to step aside and put your ego away for the betterment of the team.

It is important to listen to the team’s input because each member is invested in the team’s success and have thoughts for improvement. Take their feedback and input as a great learning opportunity because now you have many minds on one subject vs. your solo perspective. Through this collaboration along with an analytical perspective, you can look to omit poor ideas and move forward with good ideas. This is a great time for you to educate team members and give constructive feedback if needed.

Lead by example, if a team member makes a valid suggestion don’t shun them away because it was not your own idea. Embrace their suggestion and put it into effect. Ask them more questions about how they would move forward with their suggestion and plan the steps needed to succeed. Be part of the team; work side-by-side with them; don’t be afraid to show them that you are not afraid to get “dirty” and do what is necessary to see the success of the team as a whole.

Trust Every Attribute of a Member (TEAM).

-Sean C.


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