19 Jul 2011

Lesson 2 – Team Development Lessons Taught By My Dog

You need to protect your team from outside forces

Being the leader of a team brings with it certain responsibilities. The responsibility and accountability of leading others is one of the greatest privileges that can be asked of a person. It can also be one of the greatest challenges.

With Jake in our family, it has reminded me of the requirement to look and act like the leader at all times. A simple example of behaving like a leader involves playing with Jake. Pulling on a rope, throwing a ball and chasing a Frisbee are all great games to play with Jake (with varying success), but getting down to his level and wrestling is a no-no. It is confusing for Jake and he gets very boisterous – he sees that he has the opportunity to be dominant and it confuses him. It is a metaphor for understanding the need to be friendly with the people that work for you, but a reminder that you are not their best friend. The role that you are required to play within a team ensures that you are equally part of the team, but also apart from the team.

I have also been reminded by Jake of the need to protect your team. There are all sorts of forces at play within an organisation and external to it that can have a detrimental affect on your team. As a leader of a team, it is your responsibility to look after the welfare of your team. When Jake barks at something outside our house, he is trying to display his protection of the family. Yelling at him for doing so again confuses him; he needs the reassurance that you know what is going on outside and it is under your control.

Similar ‘noises’ are heard by members of your team; rumours of change, changes of client bases or different work procedures. You need to be able to convey to your team that you are aware of these forces and that you are in control of both circumstances and outcomes. With this comes the appropriate demeanour of calm and control.

A good team leader stays aware of the outside forces that are at play and knows how to keep the team informed but not alarmed.

What outside forces are at play in your organisation? What have you done to stay informed and protect the members of your team?