Is Leadership for you?
At the beginning, there was a person with a goal. He wants to achieve his goal as fast as he can. So, when he found others who share the same goal, naturally he will want them to team up. The more people to help with a task, the faster it will be done. It is easy to see the logic in that statement, and efficiency has always been the reason for the birth of a team. But, are all teams efficient?
The problem with a group of people – a team – is the people. In a room full of newly met Toastmasters, we started with the basics: breaking the ice. It was easy enough to turn to the stranger sitting beside us and begin self introductions. After all, that is what Toastmasters has trained us to do. One small talk led to the next, and before we know it, it was time to proceed to the next challenge: approach a person you would normally avoid, and explain to them why you would not gravitate towards them naturally! A few discomforting moments later, we ended up simply speaking to more new people.
It was tough, and it was meant to be. Sometimes, we have people we do not get along well with in our team. It is important then to address the issue and to remind one another that the team was created because wehave common goals that we want to achieve efficiently. If you truly believe that, you will set aside personal conflicts, and return the focus back to your shared objectives.
As always, communication is key. For teams to be efficient, there must be constant discussions and information going back and forth between leaders and members of a team – it should never be unidirectional, either only going down or up. Information need also be relayed in a way where every single person would receive a complete and undiminished version. This is where the leader may have to speak to key people personally and not rely on the ‘Chinese Whispers’ method of relaying information to one person who would relay a summarised version to the next. A lot of time will be lost clarifying and rectifying if information is not distributed to all members clearly.
Once all is clear on the objectives, it is time to come up with a strategy to reach it. After being asked to select one flat and thin object, we were given an objective: “all of you need to be off the floor”. We understood that as needing to step on our chosen items at once, so that our feet will be off the floor. Those who have chosen cherished notebooks were in conflict right away! There was not much diversity in the tactics – we all rushed to an empty spot, placed our papers and books and items strategically next to each other’s on the floor and on the count of three stepped onto them. Before we could celebrate our victory, two of our items were removed from the floor, and this was the case until we had no other solution but to jump! It was then that we were made to realise that we only needed to jump to achieve our objective.
Strategies are means to reach a goal. But often, we put so much emphasis on perfecting or modifying a strategy, that we forgot that it is never a requirement. We can always ditch strategies, especially when goals are reached faster without. The same goes with teams too.
The thing about teams is that they are almost always successful – you will jump through hoops to ensure this! But, how successful can you be? That depends on how efficient you can be to achieve it. If it is more efficient to do it alone, then why have a team? If a strategy is hindering progress, then why even have it? At every point of your journey, always reflect back and remind yourself: what is your goal? Are you being efficient enough in reaching it?