We've all experienced a bad team at some point in our career. When I ask people in workshops to think about the worst team that they have been on, without fail, everybody can think of an example. After a few more questions, I will then ask, what was your part in all of that? There are often a few perplexed looks, some indignation, some 'it wasn't me, it was them', etc.

The thing about teams, is that we all have a part to play, and very rarely are there people who are not contributing, directly or indirectly, to the shit-ness of the team.
This can be for a number of reasons, of course, but the number one reason that I see is people not willing to first identify and acknowledge their own 'not so flash' behaviours that may be contributing. For them, it's always something that someone else is doing.

A classic example is when someone cuts us off in traffic. We often get annoyed and shout at them from the safety of our car. Then, when we cut someone off, we give them a sympathetic wave and mouth "Sorry, I'm in a hurry". Why is it ok for us to cut in and cut off, but not for others to do it to us?

There is a great TED Talk, and one that is on my personal highlights reel, and that is Ben Zander. Since 1979, Benjamin Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He is known around the world as both a guest conductor and a speaker on leadership -- and he's been known to do both in a single performance. He uses music to help people open their minds and create joyful harmonies that bring out the best in themselves and their colleagues.

My favorite line in his TED Talk (using teaching music as an example) is 'who am I being that my players eyes aren't shining?'.
It is a lesson in taking a look at ourselves, and our own behaviour first, before making judgement and looking at others.
We can also ask ourselves this question as a parent. 'Who am I being, that my child's eyes aren't shining?' and it is a great check in with myself to notice what I am doing that might be contributing.

When we take the time to look at our own behaviour, beliefs, mindset, and actions first, that might be contributing or constraining the team, we can often identify some 'work on' areas for ourselves. It requires a lot of courage to hold the mirror up in front of us, and then the courage to act.

My friend Mike House, a Leadership expert based in Perth, suggests that "people sometimes need to take some 'Viagra eye drops' and take a good hard look at themselves!" and I agree - it's a good place to start.

Questions to explore:
What's going on in your team that's not that great?
What part are you playing in that?
Who are you being that perhaps not lighting up the team?
What behaviours could you shift that would create a positive impact on the team?
What could you put your hand up for, acknowledge and actively work on improving?, for you, and for your team?


1 Learning: Start with looking inside, at yourself, before looking outside at others.
1 Opportunity: Take the time to look at how our own behaviour might be contributing
1 Action: Identify one behaviour that you could shift when it comes to working with your team and put it into action.


For those interested, here is the link to Ben Zanders TED Talk.