26 Apr The Phrase to Know if Your Team is Committed or Compliant

Engaged, committed, accountable, selfless, team-oriented, courageous, resourceful, resilient, humble, disciplined… If we had our way, our teams would be comprised of near perfect humans. But alas… we are all works in progress – often with unrealistic expectations of the people we select and lead.

Google launched “Project Aristotle” to figure out what makes for an effective team, and their findings boiled down to two simple things: An effective team has a safe environment where each person’s voice gets equal time, and people display empathy towards one another. Even simpler – it’s being just plain nice.

I had a boss and mentor once ask me whether my team, which was performing well, was truly committed, or merely compliant. With honest reflection, I realized it was the latter. So how do you know if your team is committed or compliant?

sfasDuring my time in the army, there were a lot of times we had to carry a heavy backpack during long marches that entailed taking turns carrying heavy objects (e.g., radios, machine guns, etc.).

When someone was engaged, committed, accountable, selfless, team-oriented, courageous, resourceful, resilient, humble, and disciplined, we’d often hear this:

“Let me carry that.”

An important point is that the phrase was not a question, and it contained nuances you had to listen for.

  • Let me carry that (I want it now because I can see you’re really struggling)
  • Let me carry that (You look OK now, but save your energy – don’t be too proud)
  • Let me carry that (It’s my turn, I haven’t been doing my fair share)
  • Let me carry that (I am trying to be a good team player, but I really hope you keep it longer).
  • Let me carry that (Actually, I want to see you push yourself a bit further)
  • Let me carry that (My turn to be the hero) 

 

The other phrase that spoke volumes about an effective team was:

“Can you take this?”

It’s not only great to carry share the load, but a great team with shared accountability and a true sense of commitment knows it’s OK to ask each other for help.

 

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