07 Nov 2015

Team Leadership Lessons Taught by My Dog – Lesson 10

When it comes to the team that you work in, what are the unique traits, characteristics and behaviours you exhibit that are valued and admired by your team?

This is one of the questions that I ask team members to consider as part of the Building Effective Teams workshop, and it always provides profound results. Many members of the team have never considered what skills and attributes they bring to the team, let alone how much their skills and traits might be admired or respected by others in the team. Despite working with dozens of teams, many of whom have been at each other’s throats (one of the reasons a team development specialist is sought in the first place), not one person has found it hard to find genuine positive traits that they admire in other team members.

In fact, more often than not, team members are pleasantly surprised and appreciative upon hearing how the behaviour / skill they undertake is valued by the team. Hearing from other team members about what is appreciated does several things:

  1. Reminds people that they are part of team,
  2. Reinforces that each member of the team has an impact on someone else in the team,
  3. Highlights to team members that what they do is noticed and recognised by others,
  4. Provides positive reinforcement to continue performing tasks and behaviours that the team values, and
  5. By extension, gets team members to consider the behaviours that are not respected and admired by the team.

So how do you find out what skills and behaviours your team admires in you? First, you could ask. This will probably sounds awkward at first, but ask everyone in the team to write down three traits that they admire in each of their team mates. The responses provided can easily be developed to a list that can be shared or debriefed in a team meeting. I find it most effective when each team member has to share with the team (one by one) what traits the team admires in them. Even after seeing this so many times, the positive reaction it generates in the individual and the team still surprises me.

Second, you could find out what your natural task preferences are within a team. An easy way to do this is by completing a Belbin Team role questionnaire. Dr Meredith Belbin conducted studies in the 1970’s asking the question ‘Why do some teams succeed and others fail?’ In his book ‘Management Teams – Why they Succeed or Fail’ (1981), Dr Belbin discussed 8 roles that a team must have to be successful. Who completes each of the 8 roles is not important, so long as the team has a way to fulfil each of the 8 roles. (If this interests you or you would like to complete a Belbin Team role questionnaire, email Michael@kameleons.com.au or add your comment to the blog post and we can help you out)

What unique behaviour or skills set do you bring to your team? What skills or attributes do you admire in the other members of your team? Do they know? Are there skills that you wish you had more of / less of?