Does Your Team Mirror Need Changing?

We See What We Want To SeeRemember those mirrors at the funhouse? You’d stand in front of them and see yourself in all kinds of goofy configurations:elongated, really fat, small head bloated body-(OMG I must have one of those in my bathroom!) and as you moved you’d see your body image change. At hockey games these days they do the “bubble camera ” by taking a shot of a fan and distorting their image. Fun stuff.

Not So Fun In The Office Though

Your leadership team is the model that the organization emulates. Like it or not, how you act and react as a team, is interpreted through your employees’ filters…their eyes, their ears, their feelings.

You may say that the leadership team acts as one and supports each other. However, if there is back biting or finger pointing or self promotion then your message is negated. In fact, it erodes your position and credibility.


“How can we believe you and this team when we see how you actually behave?”

    • “You preach to us about team work and working together.
      Yet we observe your leadership team saying the right words in public but something different in one-on-one’s or staff meetings.”
      “You talk about respect and trust.
      Yet we don’t see this team demonstrating it when things go awry. “
      “You ask us to sacrifice our time and compensation for the good of the company.
      Yet we see your team spending company time and money on non essential perks.”
      (And you say, “Yes, but we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.”)
      “You talk about being optimistic and forward looking.
      Yet we don’t understand the direction we are going, how we are going to get there, and our own roles and responsibilities in helping us get there.”
  • Maybe It’s Time To Look In The Mirror

    Actually, it may be time to change the mirror. It may be distorting your view of reality. What you think your team is doing may be diametrically opposite to what others think. This difference is costing you dearly in financial results not to mention employee productivity and morale. (oops, I guess I did mention it)

    Research shows that employees’ behavior and culture reflects that of their leaders. It is not “do as I say” but “do as I do”. I remember years ago a GM took over a manufacturing division. He had a habit of using the “F” word as part of his normal every day language. I visited one of his directors about 3 months later. It was amazing how the management team, by osmosis, had let the “F” word infiltrate their language. In fact even the director’s administrative assistant would occasionally drop the “F” bomb unintentionally. (“Here’s your F***ing report”)

    While your situation most likely is not this bad, the negative business impact could be worse. Are you ignoring the effect your team’s behaviors are having on the whole organization?

    Better Now Than Later

    Do something now. Take an honest view of the behaviors of your team as a whole and as individual leaders. Are you acting true to your values? Have you as a team reviewed your organization’s culture and decided what you want it to be or have you just accepted “the way things are done around here”. If so, you are shirking your responsibility as a leader.
    You are letting your employees down. You are not achieving the results you could attain.

    Not to mention, you are leaving money on the table. (There I go again!)

    You might even want to think about having an off-site meeting to come to grips with your team culture and vision. In fact, you may even want to engage a professional facilitator to make sure all voices are heard and you can focus on getting the most out of the session.

    If as a leadership team, you are not all in agreement with how you want to be as a team and as an organization,then how will anyone else know?

    You reap what you sow.

    Stop Avoiding That Tough Conversation

    Most of us have had times when we know something is not right and we need to address the issue with another person head on. It could be your boss is going around you and working directly with your employees without keeping you informed or maybe behaving in ways that are undermining you. Maybe it’s a peer jockeying for your job or part of your role. It might be a subordinate who seems to be sabotaging you.

    There may be two different reactions:

    1. You notice it but shrug it off as unimportant. “That’s just the way it is.” “Hey we’re a team here.”
    2. It bothers you. You feel something is not right and it’s not good for you or your position.
      By the way, if you don’t notice anything, then take the blinkers off and pay attention to what is going on around you.

      Ignore It At Your Own Peril


      So let’s assume you do notice it and it does concern you or at a minimum peaks your interest. These kinds of issues are distracting. Without resolution they remain in the back of your mind, stealing valuable brain power. It can cause anxiety, lack of sleep, anger and even illness. Left too long it might cause you to act irrationally…blow up in a meeting, sabotage a project, complain to others behind their back, or even worse.
      Humans typically avoid unpleasant situations and if you are already loaded with work and you are doing a great job there is a tendency to put it on the “to do “ list and it never seems to make it to the top. Unfortunately it won’t go away and you may be the loser.
      The sooner you have that tough conversation with the apparently offending person, the faster you will resolve the issue and move forward…and feel better.

      Don’t Wait. Address It Head On.

      1. Step back and look at the situation from a company and business perspective. Ask what damage is this causing or how is it detracting from a smooth successful operation?
      2. Write down specifically what the issue is and very clearly the outcome you desire and what success looks like.
      3. Look at it from the other person’s perspective. Look for that person’s positive intention. What would cause a rational person to act in this manner. Many times people are driven by ignorance, fear or desire to protect themselves. (job, position, personal perception, prestige, reputation)
      4. List what possible things you may be doing to cause the issue. Are you excluding others,showing favoritism, not following up, micro-managing etc.
      5. Is the other person correct in their assessment? If so act accordingly. If not proceed.
      6. Make two columns, one for you and one for the other person.
      7. Identify the common objective that you both have. Answer the questions below as open minded as possible. This will lead you to having a fuller and clearer understanding of the situation and provide direction for a face to face meeting.
      8. Action Me Them
        The Issue How I see it How would they see it?
        Value to the business Doing it my way Doing it their way
        Personal value What does this do for me? What could it mean to them?
        Actions Observed What have I done
        to contribute to the issue?
        What actions have you observed?
        Purpose of Action Mine Theirs
        Common Objective What do we both want?
        Win Win Plan Value to me Value to them

        [Read more...]

    Dallas Mavericks Show Teamwork Works

    Teamwork Works

    Teamwork Works

    It’s another example of the power of team work. The Miami Heat with its much touted superstars-Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh-were unable to win against a TEAM of one superstar Dirk Nowitzki and a group of lesser players who worked to collectively find ways to score more points and to hold Miami to fewer baskets and win the NBA championship.

    In the final game Nowitzki was not performing at his usual level. He finished 9 for 27. Even though he was 1 for 12 in the first half, the rest of the team helped make it 53-51. Throughout the game the team stepped up and and did what was needed to win.

    From ESPN Game HQ

    “When you are outnumbered 3-1 in All-Stars, its crucial your supporting cast shows up. Luckily for Dirk Nowitzki, that’s exactly what happened. In the Mavericks’ four wins, Dirk’s supporting cast combined to score over 75 points…”

    “This is a true team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is an old bunch. We don’t run fast or jump high. These guys had each other’s backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=310612014

    Contrasts in Mindset

    1. After the game Norwitzki praised the efforts of his teammates and how they made up for his game being off.

    2. Dwayne Wade (Miami), during an interview after one of the earlier games, made a comment about how if one of the three (him, Bosh, James) was not playing well then one of the the other three would step up their game. To me this demonstrated how this threesome viewed the team. It was all about the three of them. It appeared that the rest of the team was incidental…along for the ride. Thinking back I don’t recall the rest of the team ever being mentioned. I have to wonder the impact this had on the other players through the season and particularly in the finals.

    There Are Parallels to Leading a Business Team.

    Super stars- Whether in sports or in business they set the bar high and do the extra-ordinary things to win and energize and motivate the rest of the team. They add power to the team. However be careful not to ignore and to recognize the critical contributions of everyone else. Paying special attention to only one or two people no matter how good they are can cause morale issues.

    Complimentary Team Members- Successful teams leverage the contribution of individuals with different skill sets as well as harness the synergy and selflessness of members working in concert to deliver superior results and stepping in to support each other. It is about the team not just the individual. The competition should be out there not in here.

    A Situational Leader- It starts with a clear vision and strategy that each team member completely understands. It requires a leader who helps each member focus on executing their role as part of the team. Just as critical, a leader must have the agility to utilize the right person in the right slot as required and modify the plan to respond to real time changes in the situation. (just as Rick Carlisle did)

    Creating and maintaining a winning team is hard work. There are so many moving parts that it can not be left to chance. It needs clarity and commitment around honesty, respect, alignment, goals, strategies, conflict resolution, accountability, and communication.

    Have you taken a hard look at your team lately? Are you doing what you need to do to create and maintain a High Performing Team? Do something today before the unexpected happens and you regret it.