As everyone else is talking about teamwork, collaboration and partnerships these days, allow me to launch a counter offensive and suggest that 2011 be dubbed: The Year of the Individual.
Set aside time to study yourself - soon - before too much of the new year slips away and you settle in for another year of doing the same thing as the year before. STOP and take a critical inventory of your own skills, perspectives and goals.
Your world in 2011 will be different than your world in 2010. Having an accurate and up-to-date personal inventory will help you navigate the challenges - and exploit the opportunities - that lie ahead. Knowing who you are and what you're able to do will give you the ability to approach each day with intentionality and confidence rather than reaction and dread.
I've recently learned something new about myself and the way I process ideas. I've learned that as much as I loathe onerous tasks such as maintaining a structured calendar, setting a meeting agenda or following a prepared script - my mind actually craves order.
For as long as I can remember, my approach to life and work has been serendipitous, unbridled and even a bit haphazard. When given a choice, I have generally opted for chaos over structure; random over planned.
But I've recently become aware of an underlying hunger for symmetry and rhythm. Crooked picture frames and directionless small talk drive me nuts. Rambling sermons and disorganized speeches make me angry. While I have always been known for having the messiest desk, I have learned that I actually function better when things are in their proper place.
Despite 50+ years of believing serendipity worked in my favor, I have discovered that I actually do better work when order and clarity are the rule. Over the past few months, I've purposefully chosen planning over chaos whenever possible and my productivity has grown by leaps and bounds.
This new self-knowledge is going to help me reach higher levels of performance in the coming year.
The base element in any team is the individual talent of each member. When each player improves his or her own game, the entire team improves. Marcus Buckingham describes a well-rounded team as one where "the individual players are not well-rounded" but rather focused on their own personal strengths.
Too much focus on TEAM can create a feeling that personal effort and talent are worth less than overall team achievement. Stressing teamwork at the expense of personal identity can lead to people caring less about doing their BEST work.
Take action -
- Go back and consider the questions I posed at the top.
- Gather the individuals who comprise your "A" team and ask them to do the same.
- Develop a chart of each player's unique talents.
- Declare 2011 to be "The Year of the Individual."
If you want maximum results from your team, encourage each member to focus on themselves and on doing their best work. Take down those silly posters with pictures of people rowing boats and replace them with pictures of individuals doing what they do best.