Teamwork and team building are increasingly seen as crucial to organizational performance, whether we are talking about a business, an athletic competition, a family, or just two workers coordinating their efforts. More books are written about team building than any other aspect of organization development. Yet it is still not entirely clear what the essence of teamwork is. One aspect is clearly that every member must perform some role that is relevant to what the group is trying to do.
Where do you see yourself at 95? That is not an unreasonable question these days. Peter Drucker lived until eight days before his 96th birthday, in 2005, and he was productive until nearly the end of his life. When I interviewed him at the Drucker Archives in Claremont, California, in April 2005, I brought up the notion of his being such an important role model to 21st-century knowledge workers.
Everyone knows that we are in a hurry. Why else would drive-through, fast food restaurants now have two lanes? Why else would parishioners be tweeting their pastors during the sermon with their questions? No one wants to wait for anything–not even 30 days for a more powerful vocabulary. There is, after all, so much to do in so little time.
A prominent business magazine hires a journalist to write about the chief executive of a major corporation. The man has been at the helm for several years and is considered highly effective. The journalist submits an excellent piece, capturing the very spirit of the man’s managerial style. The magazine rejects it–not exciting enough, no hype. Yet the company has just broken profit records for its industry.
During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was both greatly respected and greatly reviled. Blamed for causing the nation to plunge into civil war, he became the President people loved to hate. Those who opposed his views regarding the war and slavery as well as his efforts to keep the nation united were vocal and uninhibited in denouncing him.
You’ve got smarts and skills in spades, and you’re brimming with potential. Still, in a high-speed, hypercompetitive business world, you have little time to make a big impression. You have to project credibility in an instant or risk being overlooked or rejected.
Today your credentials may get you in the door. Yet to really succeed, you’ve got to look credible when it matters most: in face-to-face interactions. Whether you’re meeting one-to-one or presenting to a packed audience, your credibility is immediately being assessed.
A colleague of mine manages a high-tech team. She was lamenting an experience trying to motivate a team member, who often works from home. The team was growing, office space was tight, and one of the only offices with four walls and a door belonged to this team member. The manager asked the team member if he would give up his rarely used office to another team member who would benefit from the added space and privacy.
It all begins with trust. Nothing else really matters, nor will any other tactics that are taught really matter, if there isn’t trust. Can the art of creating trust be learned? Yes. Is there a process that can be defined for creating trust? Yes. You want to create trust? Ask questions, and then listen.