Pulse Blogger: Leadership and teamwork dynamics

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Black Gentlemen

Having had the experience of working in various teams, I am continuously learning more about their dynamics.

Having had the experience of working in various teams, I am continuously learning more about their dynamics.

This is something that people could very easily take for granted in the work environment, as well as other settings such as social clubs, religious gatherings and even within the household.

There are numerous books and guides about working in a team, especially for structured environments where roles are clearly defined. While acquiring specific technical skills in these environments is very important towards attaining success, working with people is one of the greatest challenges of mankind.

There may be a plethora of literature on human psychology, but these still attempt to box people up into textbook personalities. While this helps us to understand one another a little better, it does not provide the solution to how we should behave around each other when working in teams to yield the best results. After all, we are human beings and are far from perfect.

So how do we figure out this challenge of “cracking the human” and working effectively with each other? There is no text or research material that would give us the solution to that. Experience helps, but self-awareness also goes a long way.

Self-awareness goes beyond just knowing oneself and identifying ones strengths and weaknesses. It has more to do with what we do about them, and how our actions affect the people around us.

If we take a look at the world today, we would observe that there are various leaders who have different personalities, but were able to make a mark in history based on where their interests and skills lie.

Some leaders such as Martin Luther King had the gift of a charismatic personality compared to other civil rights movement leaders such as Rosa Parks who was more subdued and quiet, yet made a mark in history by saying one word, “No”.

This goes to show that there is not one stereotype of whom a leader should be or what her or his attributes are. We all have our very own gifts, strengths and weaknesses.

So how does this now translate into teamwork? Did you know that Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King worked together, despite their different personalities? What held them together was one shared vision that drove them both. If a team does not have a shared vision or complete buy in from all its members, then the leader and its members have failed.

They may never reach a coherent conclusion, may end up just being busy being busy and may not get along (whether or not they actually even liked each other in the first place).

This brings me to an interesting analogy that comes up occasionally when people talk about teamwork:

There were four colleagues named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. These colleagues had a very important task to carry out, and Everybody was asked to do it. However, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody became upset about that, because really it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

As a leader, it is important to set direction, communicate with your team, listen attentively, correct mistakes, encourage participation, and identify all members’ strong points so that the vision and objectives of the work are executed in unison, thereby making all members have that sense of achievement when the task is completed.

This is, however, easier said than done. As leaders and team members, we have to be mindful of the effects of our words and actions on other people and adjust our behaviour to suit theirs. We cannot expect everyone to think in the same way as we do or do things the way we would. We are not the same, and neither are we mind readers.  This takes a lot of patience and emotional intelligence….A positive attitude goes a long way as well.

There is no one way of getting it right when it comes to interacting with each other in teams or even in general, but if we continue to make that deliberate effort to exercise some self awareness and emotional intelligence, then we will learn, grow and attain success.

 

Written by Oyin Egbeyemi

Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer. She blogs at https://thevoiceofsamanthabrown.blogspot.com.ng/ and you can follow her on instagram (@samantha_brwn) or twitter (@OyinEgbeyemi)

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