Posts Tagged ‘teams’

Are you a team of leaders?

February 25, 2013

You may not be a team leader in the official sense, but you may have taken the lead on something that your team has done.

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These days teams work at speed, with several things happening at once. Quite often this involves reacting to internal and external factors, many of which come in at short notice.

By taking the lead on some elements of the day-to-day (and longer-term) tasks or projects – it can have a positive and successful outcome for the overall efficiency of the team … not to mention morale!

Don’t get me wrong, a team leader has an overall responsibility for his/her team, but that doesn’t mean that they have to lead on everything.

So when might a team member lead?

Here are some thoughts …

1. When you have specialist knowledge and skills

This doesn’t just mean subject expertise; it can also include the following:

  • you’re skilled at building rapport with other teams in school or parents/families in the local community
  • you have specific knowledge of a child’s history (behaviour, medical history, etc.)

Which of your skills/strengths have you led on in the past?

2. Your experience

The team may look to you if you have experienced a similar situation to one the team are experiencing now. For example:

  • moving classrooms & resources to a newly built part of the school (or new school building). This can involve some good organisational skills, as well as identifying ‘must-do’ tasks and recognising possible pitfalls of a particular course of action
  • working with a significant number of new team members (e.g. you may have led an induction meeting for staff new to the school)

Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is being discussed about which you have some experience.

3. You can see the light!

Are you good at spotting solutions to delicate situations, challenges and problems that your team is faced with?

If so, and the team goes with your recommendation, you assume some sort of leadership role; e.g. team members may come back to you while the situation is ongoing to ask for further suggestions. If you don’t have them it’s a good idea to work with that person to help find a solution.

Remember to listen to, and debate, other possible options … don’t be blinded by your light! This will help others to take you seriously.

And finally …

Whenever you have the opportunity to take the lead on a task, and you feel you have the skills to deliver, grab this opportunity! It will help to develop leadership skills for the future, if that’s where you want to go, and if not it can certainly help build your team into a stronger and more effective one. 🙂

Types of Team Support

February 22, 2013

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Support can come in all forms, and sometimes when you don’t expect it. A great team is mindful of its members, and can sense when they are ‘off par’ and either need time & space to sort things out for themselves, or need some form of support or intervention from their colleagues.

Colleagues therefore can play key roles in supporting team members from time to time.

“I get by with a little help from my friends”… famous song lyrics, as well as a possible team moto!

Here are a few of the roles team members can adopt which can support their colleagues …

1. The Cheerleader role

These are the colleagues who will ‘big you up’ when you’re feeling low. They believe in you, and are great at encouraging you. They’re good at picking you up following a setback and may do so by reminding you of your successes!

2. The Challenger role

This is when a team member questions your motives – but from a positive perspective. If, for whatever reason, you’re not focused on the job at hand, this can be useful for getting you back on track. This type of role is also useful to help you discover a new strategy when you’re stuck.

3. The Coaching role

You may be fortunate enough to have a teacher trained in coaching skills on your team. These skills can be valuable to help you identify internal as well as external resources to help you achieve work-related goals/targets. They give you time and space to think and will provide objective feedback … And, your conversation should also be confidential!

4. The Confidant role

These are team members you can really trust and are great listeners. They help you to offload, and usually have a calm approach which helps you to gain an objective perspective.

Which of these roles have you performed for your team colleagues, and which of these roles do you prefer your colleagues to offer to you?

3 Rs of a solid team

February 4, 2013

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  • How solid is your team?
  • How do you know?
  • What would you consider to be the foundations of a great team?

When I say ‘team’ – this could mean the whole staff team or, more typically, one of several teams within your organisation.

Teams are about people, and people work well together when they have developed strong relationships with each other. The following 3 Rs suggest how this might start.

1. Rules

These are the ground rules which describe the set of normal team behaviours. They may be more important for newly formed teams, but would benefit any team. Some rules may include:

  • open and honest communication
  • a team approach to solving team problems
  • acknowledging the rights of fellow team members
  • constructive debate when introducing new policies
  • using fair and objective decision-making processes

What would your team rules be?

2. Responsibility

Along with team members needing to be clear about their roles within the team, they also need to know what they are responsible for. This may seem like common sense, and if team members know their roles, it often follows that they will know what their responsibilities are.

However, I think there is a difference between being responsible for something and taking responsibility for something. The latter can have labels such as ‘weakness’ or ‘blame’ attached to it if something hasn’t gone according to plan.

I think it’s quite a strong personal trait to take responsibility for things (under your remit) that don’t go well. Acknowledging this to your team will gain you greater respect. We’re all human, and no-one’s perfect! Speaking of respect …

3. Respect

This includes respecting team members’ points of view, and showing courtesy. You don’t have to be their best friend. Also – if you find yourself thinking that someone in your team is ‘annoying’, try to separate out the behaviour from the person. If you can do this then when they change that behaviour to something ‘less annoying’ to you – you’re more likely to see it and change your opinion of them for the better.

If you show respect for others, you are far more likely to be respected in return. There’s a great parable that demonstrates this …

An uncle was sat at the side of a road with his nephew, in 19th century Ireland, when a traveller walked by.

‘Good day sir,’ he said. ‘I am  travelling to the village over the hill. Can you tell me what the people are like there?’

‘Well,’ said the uncle, ‘you’ve just been to the village on this side of the hill – how did you find the people there?’

‘Oh, they were great,’ replied the traveller, ‘really friendly and welcoming.’

‘Well, that’s good to hear,’ said the uncle, ‘because that’s just what the people are like in the village over the hill.’ With that, the happy traveller headed off to the next village.

Some time later another traveller walked past. ‘Good day sir,’ he said to the uncle. ‘I am travelling to the village over the hill. Can you tell me what the people are like there?’

‘Well,’ said the uncle, ‘you’ve just been to the village on this side of the hill – how did you find the people there?’

‘Oh, they weren’t friendly at all … very unwelcoming. I didn’t like the village at all,’ replied the traveller.

‘Well I am sorry to tell you this,’ said the uncle, ‘but that’s how you will find the people in the next village.’ The unhappy traveller headed off to the next village.

‘Uncle,’ said the nephew a short while later, ‘to whom did you tell the truth?’

‘I told the truth to both of them,’ he said. ‘The point is, people reap what they sow.’

What would the 3 key elements be for a strong team in your organisation?