Do you remember playing on a see-saw when you were younger?
The secret to enjoying team success is often found in orchestrating a similar transfer of weight – and the experience can be just as exhilarating (or as scary) for you as a coach or team leader as you watch the action and movement occur.
The see-saw you may recall from a playground in your youth was likely a single long board balanced on something that allowed the weightier end to rest on the ground while the lighter end rose up high into the air.
For kids who did not weigh very much, the see-saw could be a scary ordeal, as they were always at the mercy of the “larger” kids.
If your playground was anything like the one I remember, the see-saw that was intended to be used “safely” by two people of similar size was often used by more than two people – and I can recall more than a few occasions where a group of kids worked to arrange themselves so that they might try to balance both ends in the air.
Just one person in the group, moving even slightly from the middle to one end or the other, could impact the see saw so significantly that the others on the see saw would rise or fall according to which way they moved.
That, truly, is the secret to understanding how to encourage (or discourage) team success.
Your team begins their project, or their season, with people spread out on various parts of that metaphorical see-saw board, and your team success can from that moment forward be affected by positive or negative behaviors, comments, or team personality types.
Once your team has been chosen, a wise leader will identify who is sitting where on the see-saw spectrum of group attitudes.
The secret of team success is found in identifying where your team members place themselves on that see-saw, and then working to help influence their movement in a positive direction.
- At one end of the see-saw you will have the WE people. These are the teammates who are focused on the big picture and committed to work together with a shared vision in their assigned role with positive enthusiasm. The WE people take ownership of team issues and seek solutions. They don’t require much recognition, and can motivate themselves to do the right thing.
- At the other end of the see-saw you will find the ME people who are selfish and shortsighted, who begin the project looking out for themselves. These individuals are often unwilling to adapt their talents or accept uncomfortable roles, and are usually the first to make excuses or assign blame to others. ME people are where 80% of your problems will come from, and instead of seeking solutions, they often announce problems or spread negativity, even if just through their demeanor. If you can diminish the number of these people that get on board, or minimize their negative influence, the leader’s job becomes much easier.
- Surprisingly, it is the third group that should get most of your attention. The “MIDDLE” people are the ones that sit on various positions in the interior of the see saw, and it is their movement that will determine your team success or struggles. They can slide either way, depending upon circumstances and the influence of team leadership and those at either end of the see saw. If they are pushed or allowed to move toward the ME people, your team performance will suffer. As a team leader, it is your job to recognize how significant an impact the MIDDLE people have. If you can get them to shift their weight to the WE end of the see-saw, that can have tremendously positive consequences and lead to the team success you desire.
If you want your organization’s culture and performance to improve, focus your attention on the people in the middle of the see-saw. Leadership is the ability to influence others – and with even a slight shift of weight toward the WE end of the board you will see the team’s overall attitudes and focus begin to shift as well.
Team development activities can take many forms, but they are most simply described as the act of influencing people to shift the weight of and position of teammates on your see-saw. Finding one person who is willing to move in the right direction is a powerful first step in getting others to follow their example. The “first follower phenomena” has been documented as accurate in many different situations, and is a tremendous insight for leaders. Once the first person begins to move, others become significantly more willing to do so as well.
When the majority of your team is sitting on the WE end of the see-saw, the remaining others will likely feel compelled to slide in that direction as well. It is your relationships and influence with the people on your team that determines how far and in which direction they will be willing to shift their weight when things get tough.
If I can ever offer any resources or be of assistance in helping to shift the people on your team toward the WE end, it would be my pleasure to do so. For more teambuilding ideas and information, you can connect with me on facebook, and follow me on twitter as well!
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- The Secret to Team Success is on a See-Saw - June 5, 2012
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- Not All Team Members Wake Up at the Same Time - March 15, 2012