Hey Coach -
Imagine your team is playing in the championship game, and you’re in charge. Your All-Star player is filling up the stats like nobody’s business. Crushing it, actually. It feels like you might just win this thing.
Then you remember: It’s a team sport. The rules require the ball to get passed.
Uh oh... Your best player doesn’t trust the others. You’re not sure you do either.
Previously on TMYD
In our last newsleader, we talked about the magic power of daily routines to help individuals thrive no matter the circumstances.
But, what do you do if you have a bunch of individuals being “their best selves” but are forgetting that they play a team sport?
What do you do when the success of your team depends too much one person's performance? What if that person is you?
The star scores a bunch of points in a bold but near-guaranteed defeat. If only the teammates would have pulled their weight. The star falls victim but makes for great entertainment — a tragedy on full display.
You decide your crew must find a way to work together — a single unit in lock-step. Will you roll the dice on lesser players, trusting they will find a way to play their role?
But what if the others don't have what it takes?
Talent vs. team. Team vs. talent. You need both.
When they're at odds, where do you place your bet?
Quick... call a time-out!
- Every individual has a finite limit of talent they can leverage.
- The game you're playing requires scale to win.
- You need the collective to contribute if you want to compete.
A new way.
Could it be that you have hidden talent right underneath your nose? What if they have skill only you can't see it yet?
The truth is you do.
That doesn't mean they're producing the way you'd like right now. But, the raw ingredients are probably there.
As the leader, your job is to find them, translate them, and put them to work.
Three legs and the truth
Aristotle — the OG of living your best life — said that every great conversation requires three key ingredients: Intelligence, candor, and goodwill.
Like a three-legged stool, if you’re missing anyone, the relationship falls over.
When it comes to leading a team, relationships are everything.
Let's define some terms: When you break the three legs down, smarts become the easy part. Think of intelligence as a skill. You’ve got lots, but right now, you’re not sure if they’re the right kind.
I get it. Hang with me.
The second leg of speaking your truth (aka, candor) is a little harder to come by, depending on people’s personalities. Some are scared to share. Others share too much.
The quiet ones need the courage to put themselves out there.
The talkers need encouragement to listen. Too often, what looks like candor is actually insecurity masquerading as chatter box.
As the conductor, you’re best positioned to decide who should talk and about what. Don’t be afraid to cue and mute as needed.
The real test though comes with the third leg. If the players on your team don’t trust each other (aka goodwill), the collective game is usually over before you start.
The trick is to convince the squad to assume positive intent. To decide, up-front, that everyone wants to be helpful.
Surprisingly, this doesn’t happen automatically with humans, especially when people feel stressed, scared, and insecure.
Collaboration gets even more complicated when Talent is hard to see. When skills appear different or mysterious it can make any of us nervous.
It’s no wonder so many conversation stools fall over!
It’s also why it’s so tough to win at a team sport like business.
If you can figure it out, though, it’s very likely the competition won’t.
Inviting intelligence, calling out candor, and daring people to assume goodwill creates a massive competitive advantage.
Aristotle was right. You need the talent to win.
You also need that talent to speak their truth if you want to get better.
But, the talent needs to trust the rest of the team. And, the team needs to trust right back.
How do you get the best out of the individual and the collective? The quickest path is to foster healthy individuals as you enroll them in trusting each other.
According to my friend Steve Cockram, author of 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead, 82% of people in the workplace feel misunderstood and undervalued.
It's no wonder it's hard to attract, enroll, and keep great talent.
When four in five are relegated to watch the All-Star play, eventually, the others go and find another playground.
Leaders of great organizations who consistently get the most out of their people know a little secret.
The linchpin in all of this is to realize all the different types of talent available.
If you believe your All-Star is all you've got, you're mistaken. You've got a lot more talent on the table.
They don't all behave the same, though. That's what makes special teams better. When aligned, they can do things others can't.
Some of your people are skilled at harnessing people and resources and deploying them effectively. They want to win at any cost.
Others have the superpowers of due diligence and making sure no one gets hurt. So while the first crew wants to take hills, the others want to make sure it's the right hill, and everyone makes it up alive.
Some on your team are futurists, creatively envisioning an innovative reality that doesn't exist yet. Others are risk-averse, driven not to make mistakes, focusing on the past.
Add a stressful and competitive marketplace, and it's no wonder we struggle to trust each other.
Here's the thing...
As leaders, if we could magically see under the hood of our people, we’d be able to tell precisely who should be doing what, how, and when. In many ways, this is the art of leadership. We are guiding people to give their best from their best.
The inverse is also true. When your people feel misunderstood and undervalued, they get discouraged and disengaged.
Of course, it may be that you have the wrong people on the team, and you need to make some trades. But, don’t do it before you’re sure you know what you have and how they work best.
A great place to start is to invite your employees to understand themselves better. There are many great tools to help with that, but we recommend 5 Voices. It’s a free assessment that we are more than happy to help you put to work for you and your leadership.
What’s great is that unlike many other assessments out there, you don’t need to remember any letters or colors or animal names. Everyone has the same five voices. It’s the voice order that makes people unique. As a result, as people gain increased self-awareness, they also learn how their teammates are different, using a common language.
If this sounds interesting, hit reply, and let’s talk further. I bet we can help.
The Magic of Understanding
We started this series by talking about how the healthiest individuals consistently have agency in their lives.
They know how to create, sustain, and complete every day, so they’re optimized.
Now, we’ve reminded you just how high the stakes are.
You can’t win with just a bunch of healthy individuals. They must play well together to succeed at being a team.
Raising the collective awareness of how everyone on your team best contributes, however uniquely, gives you your best shot at winning.
Let's keep this newsleaders' homework simple: Get curious. Get real about your own trust level with those you lead. Do some reflection. Have some conversations.
Are you too dependent on one person's performance? Will that get you where you want to go? If not, tune in next time when we get move from the what to the how.
Helping your people love their job is easier than it sounds. Especially when you know understand what motivates people to play their best.
We'll get into that next time.
Until then, all my best,
P.S. I am very interested in your minimally viable Rule of Life experiments. Will you share? Hit reply. I can’t wait to hear.
Dane Sanders is CEO of TellMeYourDreams.com. His team of certified mental health professionals and coaches - trained in TMYD's motivation modality - offer workshops tailored for organizations looking to become great. Tom Rodriguez is TMYD's Chief Mental Health Officer. Comments, questions, and inquiries are always welcome at email@example.com.
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