John Maxwell tells a story in his book titled, “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” about legendary basketball coach John Wooden and one of Coach Wooden’s star players, Sidney Wicks. As Dr. Maxwell tells the story, Wicks couldn’t understand why Coach Wooden was keeping him on the bench during an important game. Wicks explained to the coach that he was the best player on the team, and Coach Wooden responded, “Yes, but we are not the best team when you are in the game.”
It’s Your Influence, Not Your Title
Whether you have the title of leader in your organization, or you are a member of the team, your ability to help the team will be a key indicator of your level of influence. And influence is the definition of leadership. It’s not your title that raises the level of the team’s performance; it’s your influence.
Baseball manager Mike Matheny, in his book, “The Matheny Manifesto,” says, “We encourage the boys to figure out how to make everyone around them better. As leaders, that means “not overreacting to mistakes, which will happen often. If the boys see us encourage in public and correct in private, they keep their dignity, and the example is set.”
Seven Ways to Make Your Team Better
Here are some ways you can make those around you better, whether you are a member of the team or leading the team.
- Be an encourager – everyone needs to be encouraged. Instead of letting everyone fend for themselves, take a moment to notice the contribution of others, and encourage them with positive words and actions.
- Develop strong relationships – trust is built over time with people you like and respect. Spend a few minutes every day learning something new about the people with whom you work.
- Listen deeply – listening is the number one way you can show another person that you value them. Listen for their strengths and struggles. Listen for ways you can add value to them.
- Provide (and seek) feedback – if the people on your team do not know how they are doing, then they will not know how to grow and improve. Develop a culture of sharing positive and constructive feedback with the sole purpose of helping each other perform at a higher level.
- Raise the bar – it is easy to look at how we are performing today as “good enough.” Instead, set the expectation with your teammates that it is okay to challenge the status quo and reach for new levels of performance.
- Think abundance – one of the biggest obstacles I have seen to helping the team perform better because of your presence is teammates who think helping someone else be better takes away something from them. This is a scarcity mindset. An abundance mindset says that if I help you win, it does not take anything away from me; it adds to me through the success of the team.
- Assist when possible – we don’t often think about helping others do their job when we have our hands full with our jobs, but maybe we should. Look for synergies in the work efforts on the team. Where can you collaborate with others to generate higher-level outcomes?
It is easy in today’s environment to get so busy that we completely miss the opportunity to further the effectiveness of the organization by making sure that you are doing your part to raise the level of performance of the team. Is your team better because you are there?
As a leader the RightPATH 4/6 Behavioral Assessments is a great resource for you to use to learn how to best support and even raise the level of performance of your team. If you would like to learn more about this team stretching and strengthening tool, please connect with us here.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.