Business problems these days are far too big for one person to tackle. A solid, agile team is far more valuable than a lone genius in solving problems. So why are we still rewarding the smartest people in the room rather than the ones who excel in teamwork? And with the smartest one we mean the one who is showing off at meetings about how much he knows. They are the ones that often end up with the boss’s attention.
It used to make sense to defer “the smartest person in the room” because, in conventional, hierarchical organizations, they were the ones who became the leaders who had to make important decisions about key problems. But in today’s world, the best work is done by teams and communities.
We aren’t arguing that being intelligent isn’t crucial for a business. Rather we are stating that if you overvalue an individual his skills to the detriment of the team, you’re putting your organization at risk. It isn’t an individual’s IQ that matters the most; it’s his ability to work together with others.
At Red Hat they found out there is a skill set you can train and prioritize to become better at teamwork and these skills are going to give you that competitive edge everyone is looking for.
How often are you having a conversation with a person and wander off in thoughts, obliging the other person to tell his or her story all over again? Great teams however, are made up of great listeners.
Just a simple notebook can help you out in listening actively. Take notes of what everyone is saying during the meeting. This way you will be engaged to listen. If you take notes it will be easier to follow-up with the person, letting him know what you’ve heard and what follow-up questions you might have. It even makes a clear impression on the person speaking. You are actually admitting you don’t know everything and aren’t a smartass. When team members start listening actively, they become smarter and more productive.
Giving and receiving honest feedback
Teamwork requires a lot of communication. It needs to be frequent and constant. It just isn’t enough to share feedback on someone’s performance at the end of the year. There needs to be a fluid flow of information and feedback and most of it needs to be positive. This will encourage people to be more productive.
At the other hand, individuals need to be able to be confronted with the hard facts about their own and the team’s performance without being insulted. You should accept critique without thinking someone is criticizing you personally. The idea is that you want to build a sense of accountability among a team’s members where people watch each other’s backs.
Valuing team contributions, not ego stroking
Everyone wants to be seen as smart and capable, but actually you earn more influence and trust when you make contributions to a team. Great team members have the ability to admit they don’t know everything. They seek to find solutions together with their team rather than thinking they can do everything on themselves. Rather than seek personal awards and achievements above all else, great team members value their contributions to the group’s accomplishments instead.
Most individuals that are team players will be asked to participate on cross-functional projects, allowing them to enjoy broader opportunities and experience across the organization. When you can recruit team players that have skills like these, you’ll end up with better decisions, more engagement and better results. How smart is that?
Read the full article here: Harvard