Friday, May 18, 2007

Molding your Team Vessel

Whether you are a team of one or hundreds of thousands, your team has a certain shape all its own. Do you have control over how it grows? The answer is yes. However, the key to a successful team lies not in the control, but in the willingness to let the team take on its own shape without your strict direction.

Think of each member as contributing him or herself as a bit of raw clay. As our team starts to meld into a unit, we may tend to try to force members to follow our own ideas as to how the group should proceed. The very terms “upline”, “downline”, “sidelines” etc. are in a way what lead to the detriment of the very freedom we seek as team leaders.

What I want, as a team leader, is for everyone who so desires to become a leader themselves. How can I do that if I try to dictate everything they do? I have found that effective leadership is more in listening, and less in telling.

One member may contribute a few small grains, another may be mostly liquid, i.e. the whole concept flows through them with no real substance. Yet another may be that diamond in the rough. The thing is, in order for clay to mold into an attractive vessel, each of these characteristics need to be present. This keeps your team from becoming dry, or too stale, or without shape at all.

What it takes to keep your vessel growing in shape is to allow yourself some vulnerability. This is a delicate balance between hard and soft. Raw clay is sensitive, bendable, yet strong enough to hold together.

Some “hardness”, is necessary. Confidence and a thick skin can keep a leader strong. Not allowing the team to form itself however can leave it cracked and brittle.

There is no right and wrong when helping your team to find its shape. This is a process that never ends. The vessel is ever changing, growing, moving…and the less you interfere, the more beautiful it can become.

Ask your members to emulate, not imitate, what you and other leaders within the group do…. To find the strength from whatever it is that inspires them in you. Be the best “you” you can be, and allow them to find the strength in their own being to get to the best contribution for the good of the team, ultimately, the betterment of themselves.

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