The Importance of the “i” in “Team”

We’ve all heard the saying “There’s no ‘i’ in team.”

And therein lies the problem…

The demands of the team dynamic can often disregard the emotional nourishment required of its members, making it incredibly easy for the individuals to fail personally, regardless of the team’s success. That’s why team building is tricky business. When it comes down to it, teams are composed of individuals. That’s the great irony here… to create an environment for team success, you must also create an environment that fosters personal success.

There’s an all-too-common complaint, but it’s sadly not surprising… “Teams are all about management and leaders, and the team’s goals mean nothing to me or my goals.” That’s probably not very surprising to anyone that’s been part of a team and experienced the prevalence of that dynamic.

Ask yourself how many times you’ve sat down in a team meeting, and just after the goals were outlined for the team, the team leader went around the room and asked each person on the team what their goals were as part of the team. Don’t worry if you’ve never experienced this, that’s the point… it’s just not something team leaders tend to do. And when they do ask, it’s instinctive for team members to respond by telling team leaders what they think they want to hear. That doesn’t help the individuals or the team.

There may not be an “i” in “team,” but there is in “win” and “achievement.”

The responsibility for success lies in the hands of the team’s members. It’s imperative they have an understanding of their personal stake in the team. It’s crucial for team members to personalize the team’s direction and goals and be able to connect with the team in a way that builds momentum rather than weighing the team down.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty… that “i” in team… the individual. It simply comes down to maximizing the participation and potential of each member.  before that can be accomplished, there has got to be a true, deep understanding of the individual and what motivates them, because only by knowing what motivates them can we know the conditions for their personal success.

So what’s required of Team Leaders for a team and its members to succeed?

  1. Team Leaders need to be aware of how they (themselves) work.
  2. Team Leaders must have a true understanding of the Team Members.
  3. Team Leaders must have clarity on the roles & responsibilities of the Team Members.
  4. Team Leaders must be able to communicate effectively with the Team Members.
  5. Team Leaders must understand what Team Members find rewarding.

For this kind of understanding, many people will turn to traditional personality assessments, but that’s where traditional personality assessments fall short—they don’t provide the “under the surface” understanding. Instead they reflect “how” a person behaves (that stuff “above the surface”) without providing an understanding of “why” they behave that way (the stuff below).

This is the kind of insight that team leaders need to understand the members of the team, and themselves. It’s the kind of information that:

  1. Empowers Team Leaders to become more understanding and effective.
  2. Gives Team Leaders a clear picture of the team member’s needs and values.
  3. Allows Team Leaders to clearly define roles & responsibilities.
  4. Facilitates dialog between Team Leaders and Team Members.
  5. Supports the overall success of the team, its leader and its members.

When it comes to gaining this kind of insight I cannot stress enough the importance of something like the MindScan™ Assessment. Based on the Nobel-nominated work of Dr. Robert S. Hartman, the MindScan is an axiological evaluation used to assess things that an individual values (the things that motivate them—”why” they act the way they do). Once you understand the “why” of the participants, it’s a no-brainer to maximize people, innovation, and systems.Only by knowing what a person values can we know what they find rewarding. In turn, this provides understanding of what it takes to help each “i” in a team succeed. And when the i’s succeed, the chance for the success of the team increases exponentially.

Learn what motivates the individuals, and the team will benefit.