No I in TEAM

Having recently joined a new soccer team, have really surprised myself with how calm I have felt. Often when we’re in a new ‘team’ environment, we’ll have this overwhelming urge and desire (sometimes conscious / sometimes unconscious) to prove ourselves. And we’ll find ways of ‘proving’ ourselves. It plays out in various ways… on the field:

-Trying to be all fancy pants and not passing the ball in time.
-Taking all the credit and not sharing the love when you score a goal. As if there weren’t another 10 players on the pitch that helped get the ball there and you maybe just finished off the play.
-Throwing an insult or under the breath comment because someone else or something else was to blame
-Saying sorry the whole time, when you muck up the passes and have a merry time at your own pity party, instead of standing tall with your head held high.

It could be that you’re taking on a new leadership role… and so you’re desperate to show of your fancy footwork and score some goals… with your new team.

Are you wondering how to do it without either blowing your own trumpet or playing the people pleaser card? Because in the long run both of these techniques won’t work very well.

Do you struggle with having some of the more difficult conversations when you’re new into a role and still building up your presence and position as the new leader?

So here’s the thing at work, when you’re heading up a new team, the ‘Prove Yourself’ urges will be similar – yet they’ll look, feel and sound a little different.

-You may be desperate to get the task done yourself, then invest or waste valuable time, instead of delegating when it could be more efficient and effective.
-You’ll keep looking over team member’s shoulders to make sure they ‘get it right’
-You’re ‘over-busy’ telling people how to do their job rather than letting them get on with it, with a reminder of why it matters
-You might keep checking things over and over again (your work or a team member’s) instead of the trusting self or team members
-Or being ok to clean up the spills, when things may not work out so well.
-You may voice and boast of your attributes, skills and past wins as a way of claiming (insert validating here) “I’m your new leader now and I’ve got what it takes”
-You may see behaviours that really aren’t cutting the mustard for you, the team or business, yet not call it out, because you’re wanting to keep everybody happy and not rock the boat yet… (or ever)
-Or perhaps you use self-deprecation as your way of getting attention without even hearing or realising it
-Alternatively some people put others down as their way of attempting to be the bigger better leader, yet that is simply being the big bad bully.
-And yes, many will use sarcasm as their way too, it’s all in jest; you know… fun and games until someone gets hurt. Some have no self-awareness or awareness of others to realise its hurting. Too many workplaces are ok with using sarcasm and belittling as a form of common place day to day communication, rather than occasional humour.

Starting in a new role can be exciting and rewarding, yet intense and overwhelming.

Here are some ways to manage the transition to a new leadership role, whether you’re filling big boots that were previously there or taking the helm for the very first time.

1) Acknowledge with gratitude or appreciation

Whether Face to Face with team / on emails / 1-1: ‘Thank you for your time.’

‘May I have a moment of your time?.’
‘Welcome, it’s really great to have you all here in the room.’
Even add in the appreciation, when you’ve got to deliver a command style message like:
‘Hi ‘X’ – Can we have 10 minutes at 12 noon please. I’d appreciate you making the time.’

2) Include the Why

‘[First name] – We’ll be discussing “Communication” this afternoon’. Insert a little more detail, then if required.
‘Communication is paramount/vital/important’
‘As you’re know…. X, Y and Z is really key for the business!’

Insert the relevant business values here @ X, Y and Z.

You’ll be amazed at businesses that have values stuck on the wall, yet don’t actually do anything with them. They’re not just words! They are the compass for the business. They help with decision-making, direction and achieving outcomes. You need to include them into day to day conversation, so they resonate throughout the business in all the ways the business does its business, how it’s team members think, behave and experience the workplace. If a business values “Excellence” – yet allows crappy water cooler conversations to play out without drawing a line in the sand, then actually, excellence is not really the value of the business. If a business values “Safety”, – yet overworks team members and is not looking after mental health for its team, then safety is not really a value for the business.

So what are the values for the business you’re in? Or for the new role you’re stepping into? How are they used or not on a daily basis?

3) Come from a Place of Curiosity?

‘Am wondering?’
‘Kind of curious about…?’
‘Did you notice?’

Use some of these starters and then insert the situation or behaviour you’d like to discuss. This will enable and open up the space for a ‘heartfelt’ conversation. And I say use heart and curiosity together, because it’s a caring curiosity rather than with a dose of judging, blaming, defending or justification that can go on when leadership enters into conversation with team members when things aren’t going or haven’t gone according to plan or as ideally as liked.

4) Be humble when you Shine and Champion for Others

Otherwise it can sound like a bloomin’ loud “Trumpet Blowing” session.
Now remember humility is not then a “People Pleasing Party” or your chance to self-deprecate.
Got that…?!!
Humility combined with championing others is about celebrating successes, the team, everyone on the team doing the assists and making the plays to score the goals. And it’s the same when the goals are missed…. Still champion those around you, encourage and support. Believe in and live by the continuous cycle of improvement. Because what you focus on is what you get. If you focus only on what the team isn’t achieving or doing well at, they won’t do well. Focus on what is working and do more of that.

‘Congratulations, well done, great work’
‘Well done team. Whilst this one didn’t go our way today, what have we learnt? What do we need to improve on for next time / tomorrow / the next presentation?’
‘Loved the teamwork today and everyone pitching in has really helped. We’re going to be working on tweaking “this” and “that” for next time. Thanks [Name] for A, [Name] for B and [Name] for C. Everyone’s participation brings us closer to achieving our goals and has been a great example of X, Y or Z (insert the business values here – the WHY)’

When we’re stepping into a new role, we will all want to kick goals, make our mark and feel a sense of contribution / fulfilment / achievement and recognition. It’s human nature.

Remember though, rather than blowing your own trumpet or setting yourself up for the people pleasing party, use these above tips above be an influential, inspirational and results focused leader.

Gen “Be You” Matthews


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