Updated: Jun 18, 2020
I want to talk about brilliance in an individual person and how, when transposed into the right team environment, it shines, melds with the other lights shining within the group and enhances the team glow to a whole new level.
Firstly, how do we identify brilliance in the individual? The answer is not to think too hard about it, but notice when someone accomplishes a task in quicksilver style, with the grace and elegance we scarcely notice when things are efficient, understated and look effortlessly slick. What is it about how they work, communicate, relate and create? Do they even know they are doing it? Is it possible to take their unconscious competence and chunk it down into bitesize competencies that we can all have a go at mastering? Can we quantify what they do brilliantly and how?
Maybe we should stop to wonder for a moment how we, as an individual, are “ wired for excellence”?
It takes a bit of thinking about and is probably best done out of the office and maybe in a small social or relaxed setting. Sit for a while and try congratulating yourself on what you do well. By the way, modesty will have to shield her eyes here. Please feel free to blow your own trumpet. I dare you. Being overly modest here can damage the team effort. The team needs to know about all your secret superpowers, even if you feel the need to make it into a joke that you are crap at accounts but make a stonking chocolate cake. Because if you are too scared to share, the team misses out on some of your unique characteristics, and that would be a shame because it’s this stuff that acts as a bonding agent for teams.
Don’t be afraid of your perceived cracks and flaws either. Nobody likes you if you’re perfect - just sayin’- they want you warts and all, fronting it out and accepting help in the areas you need them. Because the cracks are where the light shines out and the love gets in. I mean, God only knows what would happen to my admin affairs if my husband wasn’t there to help me. Left to my own devices, I’m a complete “admin vortex”. But I’m a massive support to him in other ways. No, those cracks, chips and crinkles give the next person something to latch onto, either because they feel an affinity with it, or because they might be pleased to offer you a hand.
Now for team brilliance. This is all about cogs and leverage, fuel and oxygen to feed the fire, give and take:
(energy + talent) x (direction + momentum) in = brilliant out
As far as combining forces is concerned, it’s about learning to collectively recognise how to take the best individual influences and harness them to create optimal output, whilst developing a Teflon-like immunity and tolerance for the less useful human foibles in individuals which, inevitably, sit alongside. I say tolerate rather than eradicate because sometimes, the oddest behaviours or habits can be utilised in some unexpected places. There may, for example, be someone whom you find to be teeth-grindingly pedantic - but he’s just the guy to ask when something needs stress testing to within an inch of its life. It’s all grist to the mill. Embrace the foibles. Have a look at modifying your own responses instead. Be kind, communicate if you need to and think bigger than the end of your own tether.
When bigger thinking takes hold throughout the team and starts to energise it, the pesky stuff not only takes a back seat but it becomes largely irrelevant to the point where it disappears altogether and is no longer irksome. And, using the same “physics” in reverse (only in quotation marks because God knows I’m not a scientist - it should probably have a capital P) the bigger picture and the collective energy aimed towards it is the reason why the good stuff becomes a contagion, imbued with a spirit of its own; the essence of the team comes to life and is defined by group courage, boldness, resilience, audacity, passion, harnessing brilliance and togetherness.
The victories taste so much sweeter when taken together, as everyone is exalted to the same level, every cog appreciated, recognised, validated and galvanised by what they are achieving and why they do it. It’s bigger than them.
Tips for team synergy
Practice, review and do
Know and keep learning about the others in your team
Learn and practice effective communication (two ears, one mouth!)
Every individual responds and understands in subtly different ways - so check understanding frequently and in a low key fashion
Celebrate your differences
Know and celebrate your common purpose
Acknowledge both effort and “effortless” achievement
Cohesive teams become so through shared successes, as well as disasters avoided through overcoming problems together
Develop mutual trust by having each others’ back
Don’t get too cliquey - there will always be new guys, so keep it fresh
Rinse and repeat