Updated: Jan 16
Have you ever fantasised about picking your dream team?
In life we are attracted to people who share our values and spirit, people we just ‘click’ with when we meet them. We seem to be on the same page, we draw energy from each other and work really well together. We admire the work they do and just know they’ll do a good job. These people are a dream to manage and mentor too.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could fill your team with these people? I was having this conversation with a colleague the other day and we each came up with a list for our fantasy team.
The reality of the workplace is that we are often working with and managing colleagues who aren’t like us, they have different motivational drivers, values and interests. Because they are different from us, we often find them harder to engage and sometimes struggle to manage them effectively.
We know that we need to adapt our leadership styles but in the dynamic of day to day work, we often default to the natural and preferred behaviours that our brains are hot-wired and comfortable with. We adopt our default management style and this can often result in conflict or misalignment with our colleagues.
I see this a lot with my coaching clients. A client may be really struggling with someone in their team, who is ‘hard to manage’ and they are comparing them to the ‘easy’ people they manage.
“He just doesn’t get it”
“She just needs everything spelling out for her”
“I have to constantly tell him what to do and I feel like I’m doing his job as well as my own”
Whilst on the surface these may appear to be performance management issues, they could often be solved through a greater understanding of where that person is coming from and adapting our leadership style accordingly.
We all need diversity in the work place, people with different lenses, experiences and views to help us see things from all perspectives. If my dream team was really made up of mini me’s it would be very unbalanced and there’d be a big risk getting into group-think.
Every team is a dream team with the right leader
Being a good leader is about really getting to know the individuals you’re working with and understanding where they’re coming from. What motivates them? What are their strengths?
It’s also about getting the team together to really understand each other and appreciate the strengths that their differences bring.
Belbin’s team roles are always good place to start.
One of the great Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Habit 5:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
This is such a simple but powerful message that you can take beyond the workplace and into all relationships and interactions, including your family!
The other model that I have revisited lately through my coaching is Heresy and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model. This is a great model to help understand how we can adapt our leadership style to the needs of the different individuals we support.
It may be easy to surround ourselves with people who are like us in the workplace, but that would ultimately make for a very boring, unchallenging and unquestioning environment which is definitely not appropriate for a dynamic and responsive organisation.
If you are struggling with colleagues you manage and have found yourself in a cycle of moaning or criticising, then you’re probably managing in your default mode.
Take a step back and ask yourself: Where is X coming from? How do they see the world? What is important for them? What motivates them? And importantly, What are their strengths?
It’s a very simple shift, but you’ll find some quite remarkable and instant changes in your perspectives that will help your working relationship going forward.
It can also work with your children too!
Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
First published in 1989, this is still a great book and one worth dipping back into on a regular basis.
Paul Hersey, Kenneth Blanchard and Dewey Johnson - Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources
R. Meredith Belbin -Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail
R. Meredith Belbin -Team Roles at Work