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Building Future Fit Teams: To drive Innovation nurture the “I”

We place so much focus on the “Team.” – on building High Performance Teams, Agile teams, Adaptive Teams, Innovative Teams – But the thing is Innovation, Agility, or even High Performance are not team sports!

Now I am not saying that we should stop focusing on teams or ignore the fact teams can accomplish more than any single individual. What I am saying is that it is equally important to pay attention to each individual within the team. And this is my thinking around why.

Individuals are the basic building blocks of Organisations.  If we want to build High Performance, Agile, and Innovative teams we need to start placing greater emphasis on the individual. A team depends on the contributions of each individual, and it is only as strong as the weakest member.

You see, when we think in Teams it’s easy not to bring our A-game. The team becomes our fall back. We dilute the power of “I” with the “We.”

A strong high performing team needs strong high performing individuals that work collectively as a team but function interdependently. When each member performs at their peak this is when the collective “The whole” is greater than the sum of its parts.

If we look at high performing sports teams, (none in SA at the moment, and I definitely would not use Liverpool as an example either,) when those players run on to the field they run on as a collection of high performing I’s. Each one of them having deep knowledge of their personal strengths and weakness and those of their team mates. They have spent hours practicing and training for the upcoming game, and countless more time analysing previous games watching themselves in action, observing their own strength and prowess on the field, analysing how they have contributed to the overall success or failure. They seek to develop a deep understanding of the delicate interplay between themselves and the team.

As a leader you are the Nick Saban of your team. Are you able to lead them to victory? Are you focused on all the “I’s” on your team, including yourself?
I am asking you to pause for a minute and reflect on how much time you have dedicated to observing yourself in action, “in the game”? How much time have you spent in deep personal reflection, in developing personal mastery? And finally how are you encouraging each individual on your team to do the same?

I am assuming that we all know the saying that there is no I in team, and of course then the joke that goes with it to say “We’ve found the I in team it’s in the…(Call me if you haven’t heard it and I’ll explain). However I support Saban’s notion that there is an “I” in team and we need to focus on developing the “I” if we are to navigate through the turbulent disruptive times we are living through.

We have to focus on building knowledge at the individual level, we need to provide environments that encourage the development of personal mastery skills.
My call to action here is simple: Know yourself, and encourage each of the members on your team to do the same.

Peter Senge on Personal Mastery

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