If you at some time have played in a band, you know by experience that one reason why the band sounds good (or not) is due to their level of collaboration; how well do the musicians play together. How are they using the power of teams?
It doesn’t matter if some of the group’s members were born rock stars if the band is not able to use this talent for the best of the team. What musicians in a band spend quite some time on, is practicing playing together. That’s the only way they can tap into their potential as a team. This makes sense – right?
So – why are so many leaders failing to use ‘the power of teams’?
Today most leaders agree that the biggest asset in every organization is the people. But there is a vast difference between how this asset is put to use. This is the reason why some leaders have a solid team who can take on ANY new challenge with a positive attitude, and seem to always find the right solution. In contrast, other leaders are in charge of teams where conflicts, misunderstanding, and disagreements are a natural part of everyday life at work.
We always like to look at the team like a “collective genius.” This description conjures up an image of a really big brain consisting of the combined knowledge, experience and creativity of all the smart people on your team. At any time, you can tap into the “collective genius” – and the results will far exceed any individual contribution.
But this is not something that happens randomly, the more structured you work with your team, the more power you can gain from it.
Let us share with you a few success factors to fuel the power of teams:
1) Learn some tools and processes that makes collaboration effective and easy.
To use the power of many, you need to know how to collaborate. In tomorrow’s business world, it will be hard for future leaders to survive if they do not know how to tap into the combined brainpower of their team. You can start by understanding the difference between the process and the content.
The process is what brings you from A to Z. The content is what you put into it, and create and change along the way.
A structured process will help you to avoid total chaos. It gives you a framework so that you and all involved will know when you are open for input, when you can rationalize ideas and when you should make decisions. A structured process does NOT mean that everyone is involved all the time. You as the leader involve the people you need at the right time. But you should never go through the entire process alone.
2) Embrace heterogeneity
It is common to think that people who are alike collaborate better. However, we see that a byproduct of a team composed of like-minded individuals is a team with less power. A heterogenic team, on the other hand, consists of people with different backgrounds and experiences. This serves as a goldmine!
You should strive for a multigenerational, international, multi-ethnic team with a mix of both genders – as often as you can.
This view is supported by research. And in EY’s blog ‘The New Rules of Leadership‘ we can even read that ‘research even shows that heterogeneous teams solved complex tasks better than homogeneous teams’.
And if a mixed team is not an option, make sure to use methods that ensures a variety of viewpoints. We promise that this will give you better solutions and a broader perspective – as long as you know how to collaborate in an effective way (hint: methods, tools, and processes).
When we grow up, we tend to start rationalizing how much and how often we need to practice something in order to master it.
How often haven’t we tried something new and fallen into this trap: Tried it once – didn’t work. Tried it twice – didn’t work. Conclusion: It will never work. Imagine doing this with our children. We want them to learn how to walk, talk or write – but we only gave them two or three attempts?
After their toddler years, kids continue learning – playing an instrument, for example, or getting good at sports. You see they quickly become experienced at how practicing actually works with their conscious mind. Yet, when we get older, we expect things to happen all at once – if not we give up. Well, you probably get the concept of practicing. If you do something over and over again – you will become better at it. This is also true when it comes to collaboration and creating a collective genius. You will become a better leader, and you will start to enjoy the real power of your team.
So – where to start using the power of teams?
Think about ONE challenge you have at work that would really benefit from being solved by a cross-functional team. Either because the solution will be better OR because involving people in the solution will make them more committed and engaged in the solution.
Try solve the challenge together! Then take on a new challenge. Think like a band. Never stop practicing on your collaboration skills. Play it!
Like this? You can read more about collaboration in the blog “Why You’ll LOVE being an Involving Leader”