With this increase in multiple team membership, as well as the increasingly dynamic nature of teams, traditional approaches to team effectiveness that focus at the level of the team no longer deliver the best results.
What is the one thing that is consistent across all of the teams that you are a part of? It is you. You have an impact on all of those teams, whether you realise it or not. When you are aware of this, you can be intentional about making your impact a positive one. The behaviours that you choose to use in support of your teams’ goals are your teaming behaviours.
Developing a strong teaming skillset positions you to be a catalyst for success in all of the many teams you are a part of. In the words of Amy Edmondson, people who know how to team are those “who have the skills and flexibility to act in moments of potential collaboration when and where they appear.”
Awareness includes both self-awareness and “other” awareness. Self-awareness is alignment between how well you know yourself and how accurately you know your impact on those around you. When you have high self-awareness, you know what you can contribute to each team’s success, and you know the value that team members attribute to you. “Other” awareness is how accurately you know the strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams of other team members. You can use this awareness to encourage other team members to share their valuable strengths in support of the team’s goals, and to find ways to develop or overcome any challenges or weaknesses that might impede the team’s progress.
Personality profiles and strength inventories, along with multi-rater feedback and coaching are good ways to develop self-awareness. “Other” awareness is developed through taking the time to be curious and observant about other people, asking questions, and listening respectfully. Proactively sharing profile content among team members can help increase overall awareness.
Personal leadership means being able to lead yourself rather than relying on others to guide your attitudes, choices, and actions. This is essential when you are part of many teams at the same time, and especially when those teams have changing leadership, membership, processes, and goals.
Leading yourself requires emotional competence, accountability, and time management. Evaluate your abilities in these areas based on your own perception as well as feedback from trusted others, and build a plan to develop the aspects of personal leadership that you determine to be most important for your effectiveness.
While a traditional approach to working with teams would put identifying needs in the hands of a team leader or human resources, today’s teams are most effective when every team member has an ability to diagnose team challenges and propose solutions. Find a basic model of team effectiveness, such as Insights’ model that includes the team effectiveness pillars of Focus, Flow, Climate, and Process. Practice using the model to evaluate the strengths and gaps of the teams you are a part of. When a team shares a common language to describe team effectiveness, you will be able to work together at any moment in time to discuss what is working and what needs improvement in order to achieve your goals.
Teams do not succeed alone anymore, but only as they are able to quickly and efficiently collaborate with other, sometimes unexpected, partners. Individuals with the teaming skillset are so valuable to an organisation because they are ready, at any moment, to grab and leverage those opportunities for potential collaboration when they appear. Your ability to team is indeed a personal differentiator, and will be seen by your organisation as an accelerator for organisational success.