Recently, I had the opportunity to facilitate a team offsite for a major bio-tech client. They were an impressive collection of talented and highly skilled professionals. Helping them formulate their unique guiding principles was my contribution. These principles help to create the operational framework from which the team will focus and coalesce around their leadership direction.
What continues to strike me is the amount of productive synergy that is obtained by teams focusing on:
a) why they exist,
b) where they are going and
c) the agreed upon behaviors that will make that happen.
The phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” was originally coined by Aristotle.
It helps the team understand the concept of synergy. For anyone who has played team sports,
it echoes the T.E.A.M. acronym—together, everyone achieves more. Whether you call it synergy, teamwork or something else, there is something special that happens when we work together towards a common goal.
Stephen Covey puts it this way, “Synergy means ‘two heads are better than one’. To Synergize is to foster the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems.”
Everyone has a role to play and a job to do. When we understand our role and strive to do it
in an excellent way, what happens –synergy! Gaining a better understanding and greater appreciation of each team member’s style gives the team as a whole the ability to work together more effectively.
Consider a time when you might have quit, given up, or simply not done your best. Whether it was with your family, in school or even in the gym, was there a time when somebody urged you not to give up or offered a new perspective? While it didn’t always change the outcome, did it not equip us with more confidence and capability going forward?
Team synergy capitalizes on these qualities:
1. Consensus – we may not agree with the chosen path forward and that is OK. However, we agree, by consensus, to move forward as one unit once the rationale for the direction has been shared. This also presumes the directive passes muster with ethics and integrity.
2. Commitment– unless there have been some extenuating circumstances by which not all voices were heard, the team ceases from anything counter-productive, i.e. drama, politics or noise. Decisions have been made and synergy does not continually look back over its shoulder.
3. Collaboration – this means speaking up. Is there some request that is off task or out of scope that the leader needs to make the priority call on? Collaboration means adhering to team boundaries as a unit and allowing leaders to lead.
4. Collegiality – is the relationship between colleagues united in a common purpose. We win
or lose as a team. Winning is fun and it feels good. It builds confidence which builds more confidence. People don’t get too jazzed about running and yelling we’re #6, (and they shouldn’t).
So, the challenge is to understand our roles, be excellent at what we do and think in terms of the team approach. Whomever goes first in taking one for the team will very likely have their efforts recognized and rewarded.
And as my wife Jane frequently reminds me and she is right (even when she is wrong!)
“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all”