Marcus Buckingham wrote a self-improvement book, Go Put Your Strength To Work. In it, he mentioned three myths, which I find it useful to support my personal theme of Team-based Problem Solving.
Myth 1. As you grow, your personality changes.
Truth. As you grow, you become more of who you really are.
Myth 2. You grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness.
Truth. You will grow the most in your areas of greatest strength.
Myth 3. A good team member does what it takes to help the team.
Truth. A good team member deliberately volunteers his strengths
to the team most of the time.
Funny, when I read these, they sound very familiar to me. Surely there are lots of truth in everyone of those Truth statements. These statements come across as one of those ‘Why Didn’t Think Of It’ ideas. We knew these all along; but it still take someone with a strong perception to put these things in perspective.
He provided plenty of examples and experiences in his book. I must say, they confirmed many of my personal observations as well. My own experiences can support those truths too.
I have seen how good team players had not benefitted the team because they simply give themselves to the team in whatever they think the team needs. Selfless and sacrifising? Yes, but not really effective though!
If those contributions are their natural strengths, then great; but if those contributions are not areas of their strengths, then the whole team really suffers from such their over-generous gesture.
I can recall many cases where people accuse the givers as ‘trying to be smart’ . Many dispised the givers eventually, and some givers are reduced to outcasts although his intentions were sincere and were aimed to be helpful.
I have also come across managers who are totally oblivious to this myth. I remember clearly a case of one manager who insist that ‘good training and coaching’ can develop their anybody into ‘whatever’. He argued that “since people are moldable, as he himseslf had came up from the rank and files; through sheer hard work, discipline and persistence, ‘anyone can climb the corporate ladder’, and he is the living example. Being in a team gives us more opportunities to learn and of course, strengthen our respective weakness”.
This view seriously contradicts the actual nature of team dynamics!
While it is true that there are plenty of opportunities to learn for people taking up a role in a team, but the reality is that this approach is doomed right from the start.
Say you allow everyone an opportunity to strengthen their respective weaknesses, then what you are essentially saying is that, everyone should be assigned tasks which they are semi-competent. This has to be the case because the aim is to allow the less competent a chance to learn.
Therefore the team as a whole is the sum of the ‘less or average’ competence. And we all know that in any given population, the average is always lower than the peak. This view does not harness on the strongest or most competent individuals.
Now, on the contrary, if each member pitches in their best skills (i.e whatever they do better than others); then every other person will learn from the best available. The result is the lifting of those people with lesser capability, except the team’s best who is the leader of that skill.
The person who is best in, say, product knowledge should be leading in product knowledge; the one who is best in distribution should be leading in allocation of despatching; and the one who had the best experience in stock take, leads the year-end stocking.