We know that good teamwork gets the job done, why then are we hell-bent on showcasing our differences?
By DANIEL LEE
Most of us have our ideal vision of a “perfect team” and expect our team to be a well-oiled machine from the start. Choosing the right people for your team is important but the reality is, most of the time we are put in a team that we didn’t choose, with individuals who are very different from ourselves.
Earlier this month, I worked as a facilitator for the DIODE Youth Leadership Camp (YLC), a six-day programme for youths aged 14 to 16.
These youths came from different social and economic backgrounds, each with their own personalities and leadership styles.
I can tell you that things don’t come easy when people with diverse interests are required to work together to accomplish a common goal. It takes courage to be able to work with new people and learn how to utilise the different strengths of each team member to work towards a common goal.
It’s okay to have disagreements in a team
In his groundbreaking 1965 article, psychologist Bruce Tuckman described what he coined the “storming” phase – a situation that occurs when individuals with different leadership styles and personalities are put together, causing misunderstandings and disagreements to arise.
In one of the group discussions, two members of the group I was facilitating misunderstood each other, resulting in a quarrel. As a facilitator, I did not see that incident as something negative.
Instead, I saw it as an opportunity for the team to learn about respect, communication and moving forward together as one. It is crucial that teams learn to deal with disagreements and communicate with one another.
In one of our camp sessions called “Chatz with DIODE”, we asked campers to discuss and share their individual take on certain issues. After everyone had a chance to say their piece, each team would work towards making a group decision.
Although certain members of a group had differing views, the team still needed to learn about communicating to one another with respect and to move forward as a team by putting aside their differences.
Every team needs a vision
Vision is very important in any team. Without vision, a well-oiled team would have no real purpose to work towards. In the DIODE module, we have something called the AVP map.
The AVP map is a foundation for learning that represents:
- A for Awareness
- V for Vision
- P for Plan.
We believe that in the science of building leaders, there has to be vision. Vision would mean a goal, purpose or direction that the team has to focus on. It is very important that the team sets a vision that they believe in.
As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how.” The stronger the vision is for the team, the more focused and determined the group will be when facing challenges.
Everyone plays a significant role
We have to realise, however, that everyone is crucial to the team. A team comprises individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. In order to move forward effectively, every member has to be confident and know that their roles are significant.
All we need to do is to find a role that suits our strengths and the team’s needs. What we perceive as an insignificant role may be the only thing that keeps the team running well.
Many times, we develop a sense of fear because of past experiences of working in a team. Some of us may be intimidated by the very thought of working in a team with different people. However, in order to grow as a leader and as an individual, we have to step out of our comfort zones.
If you are working in a team now or in the future, know that it won’t be an easy journey but definitely a worthwhile one.
“Team” stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.
Let’s go to camp
We recently held our DIODE Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) for a group of secondary school students aged 14 to 16. It was a six-day camp from the June 1-6, in Harmony Excellence Resort, Janda Baik, Pahang.
YLC focuses on developing leadership qualities in youths while exposing them to the idea of making a positive difference in the community through MAD (Making A Difference) projects.
Through DIODE, we emphasize the importance of having campers from diverse social and economic backgrounds. We keep to a ratio of 70% public campers to 30% sponsored campers coming from community homes or centres.
One of the most memorable experience in camp was to be able to see teams presenting their own ideas for a MAD project in front of a panel of judges and the rest of their fellow campers.
It was great seeing how much these student can grow in just a short few days; campers from the community homes became confident and could speak boldly in front of a crowd.
I also received surprising feedback from campers who said that this was their first time knowing other youths their age who didn’t get the same level of education or privileges that they did.
They were inspired to learn from one another and encouraged each other in profound ways. If you want to help your child nurture his or her leadership potentials, do look out for our next YLC by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/leaderonomicsyouth or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Lee works with the Leaderonomics Youth team. Born with brittle bones, he doesn’t allow his disability to stop him. He is a wheelchair marathoner, sitting volleyball player and a person dedicated to nurturing leaders of the future. He believes it’s not how you start, but how you persevere throughout and finish a race that counts the most. For more Starting Young articles, click here.
First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 20 June 2015