Observant Leaders and Team Behaviors

(I’ve moved, please join the conversation at: http://www.dawnwesterberg.com )

“Real Leaders celebrate when others on the team succeed…ego-driven managers fear they will lose status.”  This was tweeted by @smaxbrown yesterday and got me to thinking about team dynamics and some things Leaders should notice – namely healthy and unhealthy behaviors.  We’re assuming in this scenario that we have a real leader and not an anxious manager.  However, the leader may be dealing with a team that has ego-driven, anxious members.  I believe a leader needs to be on watch for both healthy and unhealthy behaviors and manage accordingly.

Healthy behavior:  A propensity to “do”

The members who don’t over analyze, who don’t overcomplicate, who are looking to move the yardsticks.  They know that some drives may only produce a couple yards, but have the patience and the maturity to know that as long as everyone is executing, we’re going to accomplish.

Healthy behavior:  The ability to compliment other team members

The individual who publicly compliments or shows appreciation for the efforts of another member of the team is someone who is more concerned with the achievement of the goals and objectives than manipulating the project for ulterior motives of self promotion.  This person is generally confident and genuine.  Note:  the anxious can be sneaky.  They may compliment others publicly but there is some self aggrandizement baked in, e.g. they only compliment the people that report to them.

Healthy behavior:  The ability to admit mistakes

The team members who operate out of commitment and confidence usually don’t have a problem admitting their mistakes.  And they usually volunteer the information, “Yeah, I can see now where I missed the mark on that one.  If I circle back, add the information you mentioned and distribute to the group by Wednesday, would that work for everyone?”  The anxious may admit the mistake when pressed, but will always find a way to highlight that it wasn’t their fault.  “You didn’t tell me to do that.”

Unhealthy behavior:  Unnecessary accusations of inaccuracy

The anxious team member will fixate on an inaccurate (real or imagined) data point that is meaningless in the greater scheme, but is useful for the purpose of marginalizing another team member.  Here is a fictional example of this scenario:  the team is tasked with creating a Facebook strategy for the business.  One team member is presenting and notes that Facebook has 400,000 members.  The anxious team member challenges the 400,000 number “I read that it was 300,000 members.  Or, “How many are in the U.S.?  Or, “How many are really looking for our solutions on Facebook?  The truth is, for the goals and objectives of this team project, it really, truly doesn’t matter whether it’s 300,000 or 400,000.

Unhealthy behavior:  Leveraging “Devil’s Advocate” position to paralyze team, and/or divorce oneself from any risk inherent in the project

It’s like they have an inexhaustible Google chip in their head that lists out tens of thousands of reasons “why not.”  The objection or concern is usually never followed by an alternative.  The problem with these types is that if they outrank the other members of the team, true collaboration and innovation will eventually be snuffed out.  They are the piranha in the tropical fish tank.

Please share what behaviors you believe leaders should monitor, encourage or root out.

Advertisements