Defining the Context for Team Engagement

None of us is as smart as all of us.  – Anon. (Old Southern Sayin’)

The musical ensemble functions within a culture of high performance standards.

The culture supports individual excellence, while creating a combined effort greater than the sum of the parts.

Covey’s definition of synergy is a result that is greater than the sum of the parts. If you are a singer, then you add to the choir. The choir can create sounds that no individual singer can achieve alone. This does not mean that you have compromised your singing because you joined a choir. You can still be a soloist, and you can be a part of the ensemble. You can’t stand out from the choir unless you have a solo. You must learn to blend. This means that you are a more competent musician because you can do both. You have not given up your skill or your independence.

In teamwork, we maximize the relationship between independence and interdependence. Our efforts and results effect the efforts and results of others on the team. It’s been said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

In teamwork, we are all individuals with individual gifts and skills. We contribute to the whole. Sometimes we make a solo performance. The skill is knowing the difference and applying different norms to solo work and team work.

We create synergy by being in sync with the team. We bring our own individual thinking to the group. We don’t buy in to crowd-think.

As leaders of teams, we inspire individual thinking while building group synergy. This is a fine balance that does not come easily.

Have you defined your guiding principles for making decisions for the organization you lead? If so, is one principle to encourage individual thinking?

When the leader does the thinking for the group, then the group’s overall functioning goes down and individual functioning is minimal.

The first rule for the leader, to improve team engagement, is to let the team function.

You champion the vision and define it in ways that inspire and inform people. Next, let the team define the implementation strategy.

Read my next post on Over-/Under-Functioning.

If you are doing too much and the team is doing too little, then look in the mirror to see who’s the cause.


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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Hugh Ballou (Author)