When I speak to team leaders about the traits of great teams, one of the first things I discuss early in our time together is the need to identify their goal and then determine the gear that will be necessary to accomplish it.
We then talk about the importance of process goals as a means to reach the desired final destination, and often the team leaders are comfortable with that part of the equation. They usually also enjoy sharing, with pride, how many resources their people have available to help expedite the journey.
What is often a surprise, though, is the topic we address next.
Sometimes, it isn’t the availability or quality of gear your people are carrying that needs attention.
Instead, your people may actually need to lighten their load and consider what baggage they are carrying may be unnecessary or even detrimental to accomplishing the goal the group has chosen.
And there are two kinds of superfluous baggage you may need to help them unpack.
All too often, the greatest obstacle is not outside the team we lead, but an internal “emergency brake” of sorts that despite the potential power under our organizations hood somehow keeps us from being as efficient or effective as we know our people could be.
The first kind of team baggage your people may need to let go of to succeed, that is holding back your team, is that you are asking them to carry too much on the journey and they are weighed down by unwieldy or unnecessary tasks, rules, equipment, or team members.
Every team member should be there to serve the team’s needs and fill a defined role. Every piece of equipment or paperwork should be a necessary item, or it will slow down your team from reaching the goal you identified as important.
The packing analogy is one that many husbands are familiar with.
We don’t comprehend the logic of carrying three suitcases of clothes for a weekend trip, but our wives insist that they don’t know what they might need – so they want to take it all.
Many new leaders are similar, in that they want their people to have everything with them on the boat. But an experienced traveler – one who has made many journeys before – usually packs very lightly and does a good job of identifying the needs and don’t overload their people with redundant items.
But as unwieldy and cumbersome as that first kind of baggage can be, it is the second type that can be far more dangerous for your team.
The second type of baggage your people may need to let go of to succeed is internal.
Let me explain…
One of my favorite and most impactful short exercises that I have incorporated at times in my corporate or athletic teambuilding programs is the “closed fist.”
I have all participants hold quarter in their fist, and ask them to extend their clenched fist out in front of them – them I walk around the group- telling a story or continuing to talk about certain aspects of their situation or reviewing an insight from a previous activity. All the while, though, I dangle a five dollar bill out above their fists as I walk by.
It is normally after I have passed by a few people and then spent a bit more time dangling the five dollar bill before one of them finally lets go of their quarter and grabs the five.
And that is what your people may be doing to keep your team’s “emergency brake” on.
Sometimes that baggage that they need to let go of to be successful is the petty hurts or perceived slights that they hold onto for months – maybe even years – that is keeping them from reaching for something far more valuable!
When we let go of the petty and less important stuff and focus on grabbing what we really want to enjoy, we can accomplish so much more…
That is the power of team building.
A team building event allows your people to opportunity to experience lessons in communication, trust building, and problem solving leadership skills. And those experiences open up their eyes – and hands – so that they are more willing to buy into the group’s vision and destination.
When you get people committed to the same cause – and help them let go of the emergency brake that has sabotaged their morale and relationships and productivity, you will be amazed at the boost of positive energy they will exhibit.
Want your team to be more successful?
Lighten their load and help them to let go of the things that are acting as an emergency brake on your success. Whether the baggage is external or internal, when they let go of the unnecessary and go all in, the difference will amaze you!