Not every personality type is oriented to teamwork.
Leaders who’ve always relied on their own abilities often struggle in team situations. Why? Because they’re really not team players. They’re rugged individuals. A simple fact.
Their natural inclination is to reach down and tug at their own bootstraps, rather than reaching out to join in with those around them. They tend to assert themselves instead of inserting themselves in the group.
The Fault Lines Leadership Study shows that many self-reliant leaders make these fundamental mistakes:
- Not getting to know the team. They may spend way too much time talking, instructing, and giving directions – or just the opposite – withdrawing from contact with their people. In either case, they don’t inquire enough … asking questions, listening, and finding out about the individuals they’re leading. In both instances, these leaders undermine themselves because they’re operating with only limited information about their team members.
- Alienating the team. Treating people poorly, mistrusting, and micro-managing cause the team to lose faith in the person in charge, question their leadership abilities, and resent their authority.
- Ignoring the team. Nonchalance to the team’s struggles negatively impacts the desire to excel. Leaders failing to solicit ideas and be aware of a team’s progress creates a barrier to commitment and buy-in.
- Not supporting the team. Leaders who don’t create a buffer for their subordinates, as their protectors, defenders, and advocates to upper management and others within the organization, affect their team’s confidence, and inhibit their willingness to risk and challenge themselves.
- Playing favorites. Getting hung up on personalities rather than focusing on abilities and potential, predisposes peoples’ fates, and compromises the environment for equal opportunity, improvement and success.
Now a story:
Imagine you were living in Africa and you were sent out every day to bring water back to the village by balancing a heavily laden pot on the top of your head. You’re also given a choice – you can go by yourself and carry the burden alone, or you can join a group who are doing the same thing, but doing it together.
Which would you do?
Some of you might say it makes no difference, because the work is the same in either situation.
Some of you would say the load is lighter when they work alongside others, sharing their stories, laughs, and relationships as they complete the chore.
This is the power of a team.*
*(Inspired from the art of Paul Nzalamba, an American batik artist who uses vibrant cultural images and colors to express deeply human themes of companionship, family, and learning derived from his native upbringing in Uganda, East Africa.)
Poor team skills on the part of the leader result in poor morale, limited commitment, and unrealized productivity. It causes individuals/teams to struggle, and carry heavier loads.
– Jerry Strom
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This article is based on the *’Fault Lines Study: The Biggest Mistakes a Leader Can Make,’ copyright 2013, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, and request our primary findings paper, ‘The Listening Leader,’ which includes ‘Listening Strategies for the Executive Suite,’ at http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_fault-lines.html .