You walk into the room, sit down, and wait till the others file in. As everyone sits down, you can already feel a tingle in the air. Your lead maps out exactly where the writing needs to go, and inspired, the group leaps into action. As each person offers up an idea, another person adds to it, or morphs it slightly into something bigger and better. Everyone feels included. Whenever a disagreement comes up, the group solves it quickly and with tact. The time flies by. Before you know it, you have a working concept that everyone is excited about. You can’t wait to get to work!
Okay, so this scenario doesn’t always happen, but it’s great to keep this vision in mind as you begin working with a team. You will need to do your part to achieve this ideal. The keys? Respecting others and managing your ego.
While most learned it in kindergarten, respect is still a lesson worth reviewing. Respect has an inner component as well as an outer one. On the inside, respect involves not only respecting another person’s strengths, but also accepting their fallibilities with compassion, or at least a close approximation of it. If you don’t fundamentally feel respect for the other person on the inside, it will appear in your verbal or non-verbal communication whether you intend it or not.
The outer component involves communicating this respect to your team members. Listening when another is speaking, straight from kindergarten, is just part of the equation. Different types of people will view different types of behavior as respectful. An extrovert might find a quiet e-mail critiquing an idea quite disrespectful, while an introvert would prefer this type of communication over a face-to-face conversation.
“Leave your ego at the door,” say many, but the key in a team situation is not to eliminate ego, but to manage it. Too much ego, and you will find yourself in screaming matches over every little issue. Too little ego, and you will either let others run right over you, or, much like your egotistical counterpart, end up screaming at the hint of criticism or change. Taking steps to maintain a healthy ego will avoid the dangers of these two extremes, and help you choose your battles.
While you work on managing your own ego, you may be called upon to manage others’. Again, different people will require different approaches. For some, you may consistently need to call on them to bring out their ideas. With others, you may have to ask them to give others a chance. Even if you’re not leading the team, getting a firm feel of your teammates’ ego needs will come in handy when you need their help on one of your tasks.
Although tips on managing specific personality types is beyond the scope of this post, numerous books on the subject are available. If you don’t take much stock in the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, consider exploring frameworks with only four basic personality types. I read and found helpful More than Words: Nine silver rules for powerful yet considerate communication by Edward Horrell. If you look, you’re certain to find an approach that works for you.
When it comes to respect and ego, did I miss anything? Is there some other key component in working in an ideal team that you think is missing?
Last week’s game dialog came from Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. More Guess that Game Dialog to come!