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The end of comfortable team leadership!

Teambuilding 2021-2024, Part 1

Surely, companies have begun to worry. Who would be surprised to hear this statement, as it has been the theme of the last year? What changed at the beginning of 2021? The gloomy prophecies, which certain professionals “forecasted” around last September during the autumn market restart, have started to come true. No matter how surprising it is, one trend is definite: regardless of high unemployment rates, employees have begun to quit and leave their jobs that did not even satisfy them before the crisis. It’s no wonder that as far as value goes, a strong “team” now ranks first in the mind of decision-makers.

What is a team, really?

It can be defined from several perspectives, but now we are going to concentrate on an unconventional dimension. A “team” is a group of people in a given field (business, sports, education, private sector, etc.). In our lives, we tend to form teams for common goals, and the central figure of that group is the leader of the team. That is, if there is a leader at all. However, there is always a team leader, even if they are often not officially appointed to the position. It is very hard to imagine that all the members of a given team are equal from every perspective. Of course, we can say for the sake of social satisfaction and good sense that “everybody is equal”; however, real life does not—or very rarely—functions this way. So, there is a group of people moving towards common goals, and in most cases, it has a leader. We must also bear in mind that not everybody fits in the team equally. There are teams where the main “character direction”—let’s call it personality path—is a given, where the expected personality traits that determine who gets admitted into a group is set in stone, whether directly or indirectly. In some teams, clear expectations provide a natural selection process for team formation. Other teams are formed artificially to reach a certain goal. We could talk a lot about which type of team is good, and what they are appropriate for. The interpretation of the term team itself raises several questions because different cultures interpret it differently. The meaning of “team” is different in each country and region, and in different fields of life as well. Still, when we talk about a team in business or sports—on both sides of the Atlantic—we usually think of a partnership of people who have solidarity, understand each other, are ready for and capable of cooperation, and subordinate their individual interests to the team’s interests. We believe that this is how it should be. “The team moves together and, of course, team members love each other”. All right, not all people define it so excessively—however, unfortunately in most cases people do—but everybody hopes for it and thinks that they must communicate that way. Unity, power, and fantastic results.

An opposing opinion

I have infrequently heard that the greatest virtue of a team is that team members have completely different opinions, ways of thinking, and do not even like one other, but despite all of these differences—or because of them—the team’s strength is building upon this “diversity”. What is more, although they had to fight with each opinion, the result was very positive at the end. If someone says that there is a conflict within a team, then intervention is needed at once because “great team theory” does not allow it. The bigger the size of a team is, the more this statement is true, as constant conflicts cannot be allowed within it, and this latter statement is actually true. However, the fact that people think completely differently about different topics or have completely different value systems when joining the team does not mean that cooperation is impossible. Are there chances for conflicts? Yes, there are. Is life more peaceful within a strictly selected team with “uniform” people in it? Yes. Nevertheless, the best results are proven to come from diversity. Why, then, are we then so afraid of conflicts? Mostly because we are not good leaders. Conflicts can result in very constructive discussions, the proper management of which can create new prospects. Of course, if we are not good leaders, things can go wrong, and only arguments, anger, and impulses remain. If we are not prepared for managing them, we are not good leaders. What do we have to teach team members? Mainly that what happens within the team—once we really are a team with common goals—should not be taken personally. Statements are made and conflicts arise within team, but we need to let them arise for the sake of the team.

Before the pandemic, many companies, national teams, clubs, university communities, etc. could opt for the lazier and easier solution, so they did not have to let conflicts inside their teams. The pandemic has transformed everything. A serious competition has begun for success in a brand-new field and dimension; and peaceful and “neat” teams are beaten by the ones that have a serious dynamism and conflicts on a regular basis. All in all, it means that the era of comfortable team leadership is over.

Next part

Defining dull, “neat” goals is not necessary