“As a manager you will play a crucial role in building the team, and then in maintaining its effectiveness. Some of this team-building work will be high-profile and visible, but much of it will be behind the scenes, self-effacing work that receives no recognition and often little credit – your reward will be the private knowledge that without such work the team would not be so effective.”
R.Kemp & M. Nathan, Middle Management in Schools, Blackwell Education, Oxford, 1989, p.138.
To build team unity, ‘America’s Life Coach’ Ron Jenson says you must:
- Uplift one another.
- Need one another.
- Openly relate to one another.
- Trust one another.
- Yield to one another.
Team unity is all about:
- Giving up my own agenda to develop a better one.
- Combining my uniqueness with another person or a group of people, to create something new.
- Choosing to be more excited about the success of the team (or the other person) than for myself.
- A spirit of oneness where I seek to build up those around me and be open and honest in the process.
Smile & ponder
Many years ago, so the story goes, a heavy bronze bell sank into a river in China and the efforts of various ancient engineers to raise it always ended in failure.
Several years later, a wise priest gained permission to make the attempt, but there was a proviso. If he were success-ful, he insisted that the bell should be presented to a temple in his region. Approval was granted for the priest to proceed.
He instructed his assistants to gather an immense number of bamboo rods. These are hollow, light and practically unsinkable. They were taken down by divers, one by one, and fastened to the bell. After many thousands of them had been fastened thus, it was noticed that the bell began to move, and, when the final one had been added, the buoyancy of the accumul-ated rods was so great that they actually lifted that enormous mass of bronze to the surface.
The point of the story is that individual bamboo rods were too small and lightweight to make any difference but, in the final scheme of things, they provided strength to the whole.
It is the task of the manager to gather together individual staff members and to build them into a strong and effective team.
The man on the horse
A stranger on horseback came across a squad of soldiers struggling to move a heavy log. The rider stopped, rested in his saddle, and observed.
A well-dressed corporal stood nearby delivering imperious instructions to the group.
‘Heave!’ he shouted. ‘Again!’ he commanded. ‘And again!’
But the log was not going to budge.
‘Why don’t you get in there and help them?’ the horseman called to the corporal.
‘Me?’ came the reply. ‘Why, I’m the corporal.’
The stranger dismounted, walked to the group of struggling men, and took his place in the line. He smiled at them and said, ‘Now then, all together, boys… h-e-a-v-e!’ The log slid into place.
‘Well done, boys,’ added the stranger, as he mounted his horse. Turning in the saddle, he addressed the corporal: ‘The next time you have a log for your men to handle, corporal, I suggest you again send for the Commander-in-Chief.’
Only then did the corporal realise that the helpful stranger was George Washington.
The workplace is full of corporals who remain aloof, yet espouse teamwork. Corporals would do well to remember that, to build a winning team, they must never forget that TEAM is the acronym for Together Everyone Achieves More. Corporals, too, must roll up their sleeves if they are to build an effective team.
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