Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about why teamwork can be the greatest drain in organizational productivity. Yes — “What’s gonna work is not always teamwork!”
Team involvement is not always necessary. Instead of achieving team work, you’ll end up achieving a “team trap” when you start to include everybody in making a decision and in all activities. Team traps slow down the process and it reduces the decisions down to the least common solutions. It adds unnecessary noise and friction into the process, that serve as speed bumps on your path to achieving something.
Only include people whose expertise is needed to make the decision. You may also want to include people who will be directly affected by the outcome of the decision. It’s important to be smart when deciding who to involve in the matter. Fully understand what’s needed, then decide-do you need an entire team to do this? Will a small circle of experts be enough? Can YOU make the decision on yourself?
Team traps can reflect badly on leaders. Leaders who constantly call an all-hands to make a decision may show indecisiveness and lack of reflection on the matter. Leaders who fall for this trap could be seen as someone who wants to distribute the responsibility of making a decision among many people. On a positive spin, this leader may value the spirit of including others in the decision. Yes, there are proper moments for that. However, leaders who consistently do this, especially in making difficult decisions, can be seen as someone who does not want to take personal responsibility of the outcome of the decision.
“The price of leadership is responsibility.” — Lou Holtz
Unnecessary team work (team trap) undermines the responsibility and the accountability that should be attributed towards the leader. Leaders who can’t own the process, own the decision, and own the outcome, are mere puppets that spew the noise and decision of others. That type of leader is a waste of resource to any organization.
Escaping team traps can also mean specifically selecting key stakeholders in making the decision. I’m not proposing leaders to constantly be alone in making decisions. A good leader knows when to include others. A lazy leader includes everyone by default because they don’t want to spend the extra effort to be smart in making the selection. A coward leader includes everyone by default because they don’t want to be the sole person responsible with any negative outcome.
Can you identify times when teamwork sucks? How do you make the decision to include the team, a smaller group, or no one in making a decision? Can you share tips on how leaders can avoid team traps?
Originally published at https://donvarela.com on August 7, 2020.