“To lead is to serve…”
Leading is about serving. It’s about galvanizing individuals to form a cohesive team that achieves exponentially more together than any one individual. The only thing on this planet more powerful than one human spirit is a team of them!
We are all unique. Whether you view that uniqueness as a burden of interactive complexity or a boon of talent diversity will shape your approach to building teams. I’m here to tell you YOU WANT TALENT DIVERSITY. Not only do you want it, you should seek it out. The more you can remove your ego and handle critical feedback from folks looking at obstacles from different angles, the more you’ll find yourself and your team in the winner’s circle.
Team building isn’t easy, nor is it always intuitive. On many occasions you may feel you’re going backwards. You’ll get caught up in the minutiae of human interaction and lose perspective from time to time. That’s natural. But if you follow these simple rules, you’ll never lose in the long run, because people – your teammates – will surprise you with their capabilities.
Those surprises will come in the form of reciprocation for your service to them. It will be their way of showing their thanks for your selfless efforts. In short order, gratitude in the form of extra effort will become the norm in your department, because you’ll keep your ego at bay and focus on serving others. Real teams are built with a service mindset.
All In, All the Time
As I mentioned in Part One of Team Building 101, the team I want you to serve isn’t just the one at the office — it’s all the teams in your life. In much the same way, you shouldn’t have one persona at work and a totally different persona outside the office. The same goes for your team-serving mentality. (About different personas: I’m referring to being honorable, trustworthy, committed – an All In, All the Time mindset. Be the same person all the time!)
It’s not enough to be a team leader at work but then abandon those principles at home or in your community. True leadership is 24/7/365. Commit to serving all the time. It’s too much effort not to! When you do, you’ll experience a snowball effect — and good fortune will come your way. The folks you serve in your extended team will end up serving you when it matters most. For every major success in my life, I was serving others outside of work (while still serving my workmates) when I earned my greatest professional successes. As a bonus, when you serve your greater team you find yourself infinitely more happier and the folks around you will be too. It’s the best Win-Win-Win there is!
Priming the Pump for Team Building
How do you it? It’s simple, but be forewarned it takes a little time to prime the team building success pump. Be prepared to serve others selflessly with no expectation of return other than the knowledge of knowing you’re helping someone else (even then, it can be thankless!).
You must commit daily to this effort. The best way I’ve found to focus these efforts is something authors Geshe Michael Roach, Lama Christie McNally and Michael Gordon suggest: Write down a daily action plan of who, what and how you can help your extended teammates. I’ve modified their suggestions and created a slightly more focused template that I use daily. I’ve included the template below to help you get started. Click here to download it in PDF form.
I use a small notebook with blank pages and draw a lower-case “t” on a page, label each quadrant, and add the name, what I can help them with and how I’m going to do it. I don’t always get to help everyone in each quadrant daily. Sometimes I go days without getting the task done. Other times I find I’ve made the task too big and have to divide it into smaller ones. Sometimes, the extent of the help is thinking about what I can do for a person or team in a specific quadrant. The template is a daily reminder to keep me focused on serving ALL my teammates – not just the obvious teammates at work but the less obvious ones at home and in the community.
A reminder about the four quadrants in case you missed Part 1 of this post; the 4 Cs stand for Customer, Co-worker, Contributor and Community. View the post here if you need a refresher.
It may sound daunting trying to serve not just those you are “paid” to serve (i.e. lead). Trust me – it’s so incredibly worth it! But it takes time. Just as it takes a little while to feel and see the results from a new fitness program, the same goes for building your team. You’re going to be serving up a bunch of “output” (your efforts to help others) before you get the “input” (i.e. success). But it will come, and when it does, don’t stop serving. Team building and leading isn’t a destination – it’s a continual journey of serving others.
When you do this, you’ll learn to appreciate the single most important action to team building and the second half of the quotation that started this blog: to care.
“To lead is to serve, and to serve is to care.”
Be Unstoppable at serving your team!