You read that right. This is not about the #1 question every leader should ask his or her team. This is a question that every member of the team should ask themselves to improve teamwork.
I had lunch the other day with a good friend of mine who is a Doctor in the Emergency Room. I asked him what teamwork looks like in the ER, and I loved his response.
It wasn’t about strengthening relationships. When you are in the middle of working on someone who is in full cardiac arrest it doesn’t matter whether you get along with those on your team. Instead you are very focused on saving a life.
It wasn’t about whether the team was committed to their cause. When a life is on the line they are all committed.
The most important thing for teamwork in the ER was about a question that each member of the team must ask themselves. That questions is, what am I doing to help my teammates. Maybe that something is to do your job to the best of your abilities. Maybe that something is to provide a team member a tool or instrument at the right moment. Maybe that something is to clearly communicate what it is you need, or to clarify what someone else needs.
That something can be a lot of things, but the most important thing is that members of a team ask themselves what it is. By doing so teammates begin to put the team before themselves.
I remember hearing a story years ago of a professional basketball player who refused to play in an important game because the play wasn’t drawn up for him to take the winning shot. What he didn’t understand was that the coach saw a better option for the team in getting another player to take the shot who the opposing team wouldn’t expect to get it, but was a good shooter. And it worked! He made the winning shot.
Unfortunately there is too much ego on teams in the work world as well.
I would suggest that every leader ask their teams to ask themselves what they are doing to help teammates? You might even have them share their responses with the team 🙂
There is an “e” in teamwork, but it shouldn’t stand for ego. It should stand for “everyone,” right?
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