Imagine this scenario for a moment. (If you don’t like to use your imagination, simply skip to the next section.)
You feel good where you are.
You connect with others well.
Not everything is perfect every day, but you like coming here.
You know your strengths and talents are used.
What you are working on is challenging and right in the arena of your passion. The repetitive tasks were either automated or eliminated to a great extent. As a result, you also have time for reflection. That makes you excited, as you know that your colleagues will listen to your ideas and views.
It won’t be easy to persuade them to go your direction with you. They will have their views and opinions. They are smart and you learn from them challenging you. Sometimes, it creates friction and may not be pleasant. But you speak together, address it and move on. And despite the differences, you always manage to come to a conclusion that is in the end better than the original thought.
After putting a lot of effort into it, you enjoy the rewarding moment when you finally see your idea turn into reality and the project concluding. You could not have done this alone.
And you know exactly how this helps the rest of your organization. It may not have been the biggest project that your organization has undertaken; however it was a contribution – your contribution – that was valued.
You share your learnings and knowledge acquired along the way. This way, others can focus on different improvements that will again help everyone in the whole organization get a bit closer to achieving what you have jointly set for yourself.
You are excited about the next idea that is lingering on your mind.
In the end, the purpose you share with the rest of the organization resonates with who you are and what you stand for. You are excited about where your journey will take you.
Sounds like dream?
Maybe. But this is reality for many team members who have consciously focused on achieving greatness. This can be your reality too as every organization can choose to start this journey. It requires humbleness, focus and dedication. It takes time.
To help you move towards this reality, I began listing the key elements you need to unleash the greatness of your team: conscious leadership support, fluid communication, relatable purpose of the company, and… And then I stopped myself.
Because I don’t believe in generalizations.
The often-named trends such as digitalization, economic volatility and environmental challenges intensify the pressure on everyone in an organization. This is especially true for global business. In simple words, everything is changing so fast that we can’t rely on some concrete recipe that will magically work when we follow the instructions.
A list like the one I began creating can work, but only as a good reference, something you can cross-check to see whether you are on track and haven’t forgotten some important element.
You can also tap a mile-high pile of amazing books about teams, organizational development and corporate cultures – just check out Amazon. Every aspect of business, such as leadership, culture and engagement has been researched to death. All you need is Google and a pot of coffee.
So what new perspective can I bring to you?
No matter whether you are an individual contributor or a CEO, no matter what your strategy and goals are, key to most solutions and to unleashing your team’s greatness can always be linked in some form to:
- the relationships in the team/organization
- the level of self-awareness of each team member
I believe that, while there are some important building blocks you cannot leave out, one key to a great organization lies in relationships and in our conscious way of building them within the organization.
People often blame “them” at work; employees complain that “they” treat them poorly. The lack of flexibility, adequate pay, fair treatment or any other pain that “they” cause us gets attributed to “corporate”.
But who or what is “corporate”? And by the way feel free to exchange “corporate” for any other organization, team, or club you are working for.
Any organization is a collection of individuals that willingly chooses to cooperate. So it is human beings working with other human beings in a relationship that they decide to enter. And those relationships have to be nurtured and consciously developed. This is not a responsibility of management or the CEO only.
This is our responsibility – your responsibility and mine, too.
In a previous role as Head of Global Communications in a large, multicultural company, I felt my mission was to enable the organization to create healthier relationships so that people liked coming to work. My team and I created many innovative communication tools and opportunities for dialogue and discussion for all our global team members.
Over the course of a year, we achieved a lot: engagement levels grew; people confirmed a sense of increased transparency and a newfound ability to relate to management.
But there was still more to tap into. For example, some people chose to not attend events that my team and I orchestrated, where they would have the opportunity to learn some crucial information that was relevant to their jobs. Others, when they attended, were present only in the physical form. Their minds and passions were elsewhere.
I wondered why they came at all. Wasn’t it a waste of time for them?
Now, as a Learning and Development professional, I see business from a different angle. I clearly see the different levels of conscious engagement at work. And to my surprise, many people show up the same way every day at work, the same way I observed during the events: their bodies are there. But that’s all.
This is the second key to unleashing greatness: self-aware people are more satisfied in their role and consciously focus their energy.
People with higher self-awareness understand and can communicate their strengths. They find environments where they flourish. They adapt easier. All of which brings them personal satisfaction.
No matter what turbulent times they go through, they are more likely to stay resilient, focused and happy. They look for opportunities to contribute, to connect, to add value. They are more fulfilled. This pattern also repeats in their personal life.
My advice for all my friends and mentees is: seek out any chance to deepen your self-awareness. Expertise is a given. People have the solutions, they are smart and resourceful. I believe there is greatness in every person and in each team. It is just waiting to be unleashed. The tool that I love and leverage with my mentees for self-awareness are Insights Discovery and Deeper Discovery.
You don’t have to wait. Find the tool that is right for you. And please share what worked.
This is simply awesome. So well articulated and relevant. I hope you dont mind that I will make this a must read for my leadership team. Well done Dana and thank you.
Hi Bob, Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for your comment! Please feel free to share further. I’d love to hear also from your leadership team. Greetings from Costa Rica where I am on business trip now. Dana
Great post! THX for sharing.
“A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.” (Simon Sinek)
Having a trustful relationship in the team is truly important, but needs to be based on the self-awareness of each team member, which implies that every single one in the team needs to start trusting him/herself.
Is the formula really so simple “know/trust yourself = trust others”?
Thank you for your comment, Tanja! I believe the formula of trust includes more elements.
I came across this trust equation by Harvard professors Green, Galford and Maister and I did like it’s elements: “TRUST = (reliability [actions] + credibility [words] + intimacy[emotions])/self-orientation [motives].” The authors explain that each component is important; however if one is not interested in the right motives such as joint goals or bigger vision, then trust is decreasing no matter how reliable, credible they are and what emotional abilities they have.
In the same time self-awareness coupled with the ability to be honest with yourself and enjoying other people’s preferences is a good start.
Hi Dana, you are addressing an important topic that unfortunately (in my view) is still underestimated also in companies or organizations because it is pushed in the corner of “only private matter”: individual’s self-awareness as a key factor for business success. This year I have attended a pilot training on mindfulness which was an eye opener because I learned more about the importance of self-awareness, how it can be beneficial, why it is difficult to achieve, and how one can cultivate it. Since I did the training I practice self-evaluation and reflection via journaling and meditation. That works well for me. All the best! 🙂
Hi Andrea, it is nice to hear from you and thanks for sharing. I am glad the mindfulness training pilot was meaningful and that you found what works for you. Good luck with your self-awareness journey!
I always enjoy hearing your thoughts. Personally, both of these areas “building relationships” and “self-awareness” are areas I have had to continually work on (and still working on) throughout my career. Recently, I had sort of an epiphany while listening to a podcast done by a woman I grew up with. Erin Dimond, who is now a fitness coach was discussing the upper limit theory (Reference: The Big Leap: Gay Hendricks) with her fiancé and business partner on The Flow State of Mind podcast. One example they gave about the Upper Limit Theory was getting physically sick when you’re excited about a certain situation or making yourself small to not allow yourself to achieve your full capacity of greatness. I did a google search of this theory and came across this article https://experiencelife.com/article/overcome-your-upper-limits/. This completely resonated with me and some of my personal experiences. I am now consciously aware of what I was doing and am making an effort to allow myself to experience the euphoria without doing something to unconsciously sabotage it. I was also of completely guilty (still am) of doing this with some working relationships and making myself “small”. I also looked at some of my past experiences to try and see why I may have these limits and address those in my mind. I have also had the opportunity to take the Insights assessment, which has been very helpful at helping me to gain more self-awareness. It was also interesting because I know if I would have taken that while I was younger I would have been a “yellow” and I thought about if my current “green/blue” was linked to my upper limit and self-preservation as I got older. In my personal journey I believe I will be a better team player at helping my team achieve greatness once I fully recognize all the areas I was limiting myself and finding a way to break through those. 🙂
Hi Brittany, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and the article that I believe can be of inspiration to many of us. However strange it may sound, it is not easy to allow yourself to be happy and explore your full potential. I am so impressed with how fast and how open you are to explore, to go deeper and move on stronger and simply more you. 🙂 I feel privileged to witness a part of this metamorphosis!