“To collaborative team members, completing one another is more important than competing with one another.” -John C. Maxwell
As a child I remember spending hours on the kitchen floor shoveling through an over-sized cardboard box of legos. No directions, no pre-built structures with pages of instructions…just my imagination and time. Time to create…whatever struck my fancy… a village, or a boat, maybe a city, or a pyramid…whatever I could imagine I could bring to life.
The legos of my childhood seem vastly different from those our children experience today…there were no Star Wars, no Indiana Jones, no Ninjago…just blocks. Blocks of different shapes. Blocks of different sizes.
Just a big box and a heavy dose of imagination.
As leaders, we have to appreciate that our teams are very often just like that box of legos…
Each piece brings a different dimension to the team. It is the responsibility of a leader to use their imagination and creativity to bring those pieces together… cohesively. Utilizing their skill-sets and differences to add to, rather than reducing the capacity and effectiveness of the team. Taking each individual piece and finding its fit…seeing how they add to the whole.
A process that requires a lot of forethought and understanding on the part of a leader. To not only make sure that each piece is connected to the process…but that their strengths are realized and enhanced to their fullest.
It requires a leader to understand the many types of pieces they may discover in their lego box…
- Mental Hoarders – This piece likes to hold the knowledge and keep it to themselves. They enjoy controlling the information and using it to their advantage…over sharing in support of the team. The leader has to find ways to allow them to bring that knowledge forth for the benefit of all.
- Conversation Controllers – This piece likes to control the direction and the conversation…often to the point of talking over the others. They often force their ideas through on sheer volume. The leader has to find ways to allow them to be heard, but also allow others to have their space and time to share as well.
- Quiet Considerers – This piece often sits back and does more listening and considering than talking. It is very easy to overlook them and what they have to add to the team. The leader has to find ways to make sure their ideas and input are not overwhelmed by the others on the team.
- Positive Peacemakers – This piece always looks to make things smooth…and to avoid conflict. The leader has to find ways to use their peacemaker skills when conflict is no longer productive.
- Negative Naysayers – This piece is going to find concerns with any idea, concept, or direction the team takes. For this reason, the leader has to find ways to use their negativity as a positive…such as allowing them to highlight all of the issues and concerns before moving forward.
- Innovative Entrepreneurs – This piece brings outside-of-the-box ideas to the table. Very often their ideas and views are ahead of the game and difficult for others to wrap their head around. The leader has to find ways to allow others to grapple with their ideas…even if their time has not yet come.
- No-Change Champions – This piece will fight for status quo and will constantly seek to keep things as they were…or are. They find change very unnerving and negative. The leader has to find ways to allow their voice to be heard…to truly work out the ‘why’ of next steps and how it helps the team and the organization.
While no team or organization has all of these pieces in their box…very often, many of them are…and the more the leader sifts through the organization’s lego box the more each of these pieces come out.
For this reason, a leader has to find ways to make these pieces come together as a team…as a whole. Building the individual strengths of each piece into a unified whole. Otherwise, these pieces will become detractors that cause others to disconnect…tearing down the team and the collaborative process.
As a leader, when you explore the prospects of your lego box…you can determine to view each piece from a positive or negative lens. Ultimately, each leader has the power to take what they are given and develop a strengths-based team or allow their pieces to become a drag…an Achilles heel.
When you peek in your leadership lego box…
What does your imagination see? Is it pieces or possibilities?