Several years ago when I was a relatively new administrator, I went to work putting together a team that would move us forward in our organization. “Moving us forward” is a pretty vague objective that we like to use, but that’s really about all I knew at the time. Actually, we were looking at developing learning communities, but we weren’t really sure yet of many of the details. What we did know was that there was a lot of information among our
employees that could benefit what we were doing, but at the time we weren’t doing a good job of including those people and their ideas in our discussions. Our process was still the “old-fashioned” top-down way of doing things. But I’m not
here to talk about the learning community process, I’m here to talk about the team development.
How many of us want to be around the people we like and we agree with? Do we tend to Facebook with people we agree with? Do we go out to dinner with people we like to have conversations with? Do we hang around people that have most of the same opinions that we have? Most of the time the answers to those questions are yes. It’s human nature. So if we are challenged to build a team in our professional life, do we have a tendency to include members that think like us and agree with us?
Remember, there is a difference between disagreeing on “how to get there” and disagreeing on whether or not “we need to go”. There are people that want to drive the bus, people that want to get on the bus with us, people that don’t want to get on, and then there are those that want to poke holes in the tires. I’m not talking about including those people that don’t want to move, I’m talking about including those people that want to go, like you do, but maybe they
have a different way of getting there.
A lot of people exercise in order to strengthen their hearts, clear their minds, and build their muscles. Some run, some ride bikes, some do yoga, some lift weights, and some do various combinations. We all have ideas as to which form
of exercise is better for us. And some of us have good reasons for taking the approach we do. Past back issues have led me to do lots of back-strengthening exercises and ride a stationary recumbent bike instead of doing a lot of running
because it doesn’t put as much pressure on my back. We’re all different, but we’re all after the same goal of improving our health. So are those team members with varying opinions on how best to get there.
Have you heard the story about the couple who rode the tandem bike up the steep hill? When they got to the top the lady on the front said, “Boy, that was hard. I didn’t think we would make it.” And the man on the back replied, “Yeah,and if I hadn’t had the brakes on the whole time we would have rolled backwards for sure.” Our hearts are in the right place and we are trying to do what’s right and to be helpful, but our approaches may be different.
A confident leader is willing to include people that want what’s best for the organization but doesn’t always agree with them on how to get there. A servant leader who wants what’s best for the organization is willing to let discussions get
a little uncomfortable in order to pull out the best ideas. A true leader is willing to allow change to happen even if it not exactly the way he or she wants to get there. A real leader recognizes the success of the organization is dependent upon
buy-in from all members, not just the ones that always agree with him.