- August 21, 2023
- Mark Miller
Help People Win
I’ve been thinking and writing about teams a lot over my leadership journey. I’ve observed some great teams and many others who were struggling. The potential causes for underperformance are numerous. Some teams struggle because the leader is not operating in a team paradigm. When a leader is attempting to…
I’ve been thinking and writing about teams a lot over my leadership journey. I’ve observed some great teams and many others who were struggling. The potential causes for underperformance are numerous. Some teams struggle because the leader is not operating in a team paradigm.
When a leader is attempting to build a team, but he or she is operating on a “family” paradigm, performance will often suffer. Here’s an example…
If you are a manager of a baseball team and your second baseman can’t catch ground balls, you replace him. However if, rather than a team paradigm, you’ve chosen to embrace a family paradigm, you probably let the underperforming second baseman stay – not only does he stay on the team, he will likely stay on the field. You feel helpless to replace him, because he’s part of the family.
“Leaders need to think about team, not family.”
I experienced this when a leader confided in me that a member of his team was underperforming and resisting coaching. I asked if the employee clearly understood the potential consequences if performance didn’t improve. I was told no. When I asked a few more questions, the leader revealed his belief that he couldn’t communicate potential consequences because the person was part of the “family.” He was not referring to blood family. In this brief exchange, I learned a lot about this leader’s orientation… He was NOT thinking team, he was thinking family. As a result, his team was underperforming.
Here’s a comparison of two ways to think about an organization…
Performance is primary Performance is generally a non-issue
Expectations are clear Expectations are often unspoken
Feedback is given freely Feedback is often withheld
Measurement is vital Measurement is absent
Specialization is encouraged Generalists are the norm
People are selected for the role Roles are often created for people
Conflict is productive Conflict is avoided
Competition is normal Competition is discouraged
Participation is conditional Membership is unconditional
Goals are common Goals are uncommon
Certainly, none of these comparisons are intended to be absolute, and in many cases, a continuum exists between these extremes. However, they do represent the stark differences in the two approaches.
Some of you are thinking: This seems harsh – shouldn’t a team exhibit love, trust, and camaraderie? Great question! I think all these positive attributes do exist in the best teams. Actually, they are prerequisites to high performance. I call this community. It is the turbocharger on team performance. But it is not family.
Community is the belief that if we do life together, we’ll experience enhanced levels of trust and performance. Genuine community summons the best from each member of the team. However, unlike in a family, to be a member of the community is conditional.
My recommendation is to treat your family like family and your team like a team. You’ll win a lot more games if your second baseman can catch ground balls.
Comments on Help People Win
Mark Miller is a Wall Street Journal and international best-selling author, communicator, and the former Vice President of High Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. Mark’s leadership journey at Chick-fil-A spanned 45 years, and today, he serves as the Co-Founder of Lead Every Day. Mark began writing almost twenty years ago, and with over one million books in print in more than twenty-five languages, his global impact continues to grow.