A team is the basic building block of every company and a key link in the management of every business. Although the team consists of individuals, their strength when acting as a team is incomparably greater.
The team can be seen as a unique, but complex mechanism. The mechanics of relationships within a team are unique to each team and are directly related to its dynamics, and therefore the strength of the team is greater than the sum of the individual strengths of each individual. Expertise, well designed and connected, gives us collective expertise, which is far ahead of the expertise of each individual.
Due to its very complexity of relationships within the team, the team is very sensitive to various events, both within the team and outside of it. All that team perfection can come back to the company like a boomerang if the team is not well-oriented. In today’s business environment, which is full of uncertainty and very dynamic, the role of a leader, a team leader, has never been more important.
Although it may have seemed at first that a team made up of great individuals was enough to function, the story of self-organized teams is getting further and further, and self-organization is often replaced by autonomy. An autonomous team needs a leader with a different attitude and mindset, someone who is ready to give the team responsibility by giving up the “command” way of managing and supporting the team in its autonomy.
Although a team is a complex living organism by its construction, it does not necessarily have to be difficult to lead. The dynamics of relationships and interactions within a team can be influenced by the leader in several ways. One of the most influential ways to lead teams is the power of a shared vision. A leader is a visionary who clearly communicates to the members of his team the purpose of their existence and their most important goal. Such a leader possesses a highly developed social and emotional intelligence, feels his team and responds accordingly. A true leader is an indispensable part of an autonomous team.
As a team is made up of also complex individuals, leading an autonomous team can seem like a terribly challenging task, almost like an impossible mission. This is where the social skills of visionary leaders come into play. He will unite the team around common values. Even when we have a set of strong individuals, a good leader will always find some common area from where to start spreading his vision. These are team values. Team values are built over time, but on the other hand, they can crystallize very quickly in a newly formed team. Often, a team can have two or three values. Anything beyond that is difficult to establish in a complex team environment. On the other hand, a team can have one, key value, which is enough to unite everything around a common vision. Whether they are two, three or one team value, they must be strong enough so that teams can keep coming back to them when they face difficulties.
Complex teams are everywhere around us, and it doesn’t matter if they are part of a big company or the whole team is one company. Perhaps all the complexity of one team will be best presented in the “Snow White” team, a famous character from the fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs“, by the Grimm Brothers. No matter how far we have come with technology, new business models or a different lifestyle, human relationships still play a key role.
Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to connect fairytale characters with real life. Snow White’s team consists of 7 dwarves, who are all very different. They all have different dreams and hopes. One team member is constantly angry, another is prone to sleep, the third one is a real researcher… and so on. This diversity is seen in their daily communication, which abounds in quarrels, often physical fights.
And then the Snow White (leader) appears in their life and changes it from the bottom up. With her kindness and true interest in each member of the team, Snow White manages to awaken the best qualities of each dwarf. She manages to come up with team values together with them, which will unite so many different personalities in both good and evil.
When Snow White eats an apple and falls into an eternal dream, the team values of her team help all those isolated individuals to feel a sense of belonging and attachment to something much bigger and more important. In the most difficult moments for them, they unite around key, team values, such as kindness, honesty, integrity. The parallel between Snow White’s “team” and today’s teams is more than obvious.
At the very end, here we are again at the beginning.
What are the values of your team? How did you get to them?
The answers to these questions are indicators of how autonomous and complex the team is. And how autonomous and complex the leader is. And how autonomous and complex the organization is.