"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb
We are all witnessing the COVID-19 mission to find health and economic solutions. Scientists all over the world are cooperating to find a vaccine to help humanity. Politicians are putting aside partisan differences; health workers are playing an invaluable role and business leaders in every sector are mobilising teams to achieve incredible feats. The value of collaboration is being highlighted as we watch people tackle complicated challenges by working together. We are reminded that we can be smart alone, but we are wiser with others.
In one week, Cathy who heads an IT Department shifted her organisation of 400 employees with zero remote access, to everyone working online from home. One month ago, this would have been scheduled as an 18-month project. Kate spearheaded the quarantining of hundreds of employees returning to Australia, from global offices. The logistics of this operation were mind boggling and it was designed and mobilised in 24 hours. Paul, who is in hospitality products, won a Government contract and is now manufacturing surgical gloves. All of these leaders talk about their success as magnificent, collaborative team efforts.
How do leaders build teams that step up, stay coherent and focussed on common goals?
LEADING TEAMS TO ACHIEVE THE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE
- Keep the entry bar high- Narcissists are overrepresented in senior executive levels. In times of crisis dysfunction will stall and potentially derail team efforts. Ensure your team is filled with collaborators not competitors
- Create a culture of safety and belonging in the team- Humans are neurologically programmed to find comfort in groups. Be clear that trust is a non-negotiable, team KPI. Be a role model and ask team members to freely collaborate. Then watch them problem solve and produce exceptional results
- Share the company’s mission- Great teams work together to achieve agreed and shared goals. Remind the team of the end game, constantly, so they stay focussed and motivated
- Welcome differences of opinion, ideas, backgrounds and personalities- Biodiversity in nature’s ecosystems, species and individuals is key to survival, especially in catastrophic events and disease. Diverse species also produce needed medicine and food, needed for recovery. Collaborative leaders want to learn and progress mutual goals, not to confirm their own thinking. Be on a quest to seek out difference, openly enquire and inform
- Lead from the circle, not in front- No leader has all the answers and solo, heroic efforts are not sustainable. A highly functional team of senior leaders is just as important for an organisation’s sustained performance as the quality of its individual leaders. Be part of the team, in your defined role and lead from the edge of the circle
- Celebrate separateness, as well as togetherness - Individual team members need to both belong and to be separate from the group. Separateness allows people to grow and maintain healthy personal and role boundaries. Belonging inspires people to contribute their own unique perspective and effort
- Foster the values of cooperation and care rather competitiveness- Senior employees are often overachievers. Instil a team mantra: Compete with yourself to be the best you can be, cooperate with others, so together we can better the best
BE A CHIEF COLLABORATOR
All over the world people are self-isolating, not just to protect themselves but also their communities. We, humans are the only living species that has learnt to care about people and ideas beyond our immediate group or kin. A worthy leader can leverage this natural inclination and inspire a team to work together on shared goals with wide benefits.
Your most powerful role is Chief Collaborator: a leader who builds trust in yourself and the team, removes barriers and brings people together to do important work. Collaboration is a strategic decision.
FOLLOW THIS MAP
In my book- The Worthy Leader – I couple two universal and timeless notions – wisdom and leadership to speed up leadership development and improve business outcomes. The Map below provides a comprehensive picture of all the developmental elements you need to switch on to accelerate your growth. The map has five key elements, each of which has three coordinates. In this article, I explore – Collaboration- as during COVID-19, we are all in this together and together we will find solutions.
The interdependent map elements are listed below:
- Knowing – The cognitive element: Our self-awareness, and perspective that will help us lead innovatively through this crisis.
- Connecting – The emotional element: The relationships we invest in that return loyalty and teamwork during challenging times.
- Being – The spiritual element: Our calm self-belief, sense of purpose and character will steady us and reassure our teams.
- Discerning – The element of insight: How we think systemically, hold ourselves to account and make the best, often tough decisions, sometimes in haste and with insufficient data, as the crisis unfolds.
- Delivering – The element of action: The actions we take in an unknown space, resulting in better outcomes.
- Impact – This concerns consequences: The lasting positive impact our decisions and actions can have on our teams, peers, the business and ourselves.
Maryanne Mooney has never been so inspired to help leaders connect with their potential and encouraging them to act on it. Her goal is to help leaders navigate their challenges and to support their growth. She does this through the power of meaningful and practical conversations. In the past 25 years, Maryanne has worked on five continents with more than 10,000 leaders and teams. Her focus is leadership, team and organization development, across all industry sectors. Her experience includes building two consulting firms that were market leaders. Maryanne lives in Australia and works with leading organizations throughout the world. She is an executive coach, president of the Board for the USA Senhoa Foundation and a YPO Spouse and Certified Forum Facilitator. Maryanne's method to coach leaders develop faster on their journey to wisdom is outlined in her recently published book – The Worthy Leader – From Mastery to Potential. The book is available on her website – www.worthyleader.net.
Maryanne will be writing a weekly column in this newsletter, drawing on her book and years of leadership development experience, to provide practical tips about how to be a worthy leader, in troubled times.
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