Which team is your team?
We know this sounds like a bit of a nonsensical question, but bear with us – it is an important one to consider.
Every single leader we have ever worked with is a member of multiple teams. They usually have specific responsibility for a team they lead (and often manage), they might be part of a multifunctional team on a project and they are usually part of a team of peers – perhaps the Senior Management Team or maybe even the Board. Take a moment to reflect for yourself – how many teams are you part of at work?
If the answer is one, perhaps you are in a particularly small organisation or your role is niche, then you are home and dry – you know which is your main team and you can put all of your energy into building its capability. However, if the answer is more than one then we really would suggest you have a good think about which is your ‘number one’ team. Is it the one you belong to, or is it the team you lead?
Most people respond with the answer that it is the team they lead. This takes up most of their time, it’s where they get their success from and where things need to go right. It’s also likely that they work more closely with this team on a daily basis, so they will feel like they know and understand each other really well. This proximity is often a reason why leaders often end up putting the team they lead first – focus goes to the things which are right in front of you, demanding your time.
We see things differently though and often work to re-focus thinking so that people see the team they belong to as their number one team. It doesn’t mean the team they lead isn’t important, just not as important. Why? The team you are a member of is where you agree what the bigger priorities are; it is where you work to overcome differences between your area and another area to make sure the business benefits – you minimise conflict and maximise collaboration.
It might be hard to see that you favour your team and even harder to shift this bias, but the people who will appreciate it the most are your team members – the ones who report to you. As a result of focusing your efforts on the team you belong to, you will be much more engaged in the bigger picture and as a result you will become a better leader.
Teams look to their leaders for direction and clarity – something which is much better achieved by those who keep their plans and goals aligned with those of the organisation. Your team members will see their work contributing to the overall organisation and will find it easier to collaborate with the teams alongside them.
If you want to explore this consider your team members. Is it better when they prioritise your team (the one they belong to and you lead), or that they prioritise the teams they lead?
We recommend that next week you make a conscious effort to put the team you belong to first. Observe the difference in yourself and in both of your teams and let us know how you get on!