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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

There Is An I In team

One of the most prevalent quotes I hear when people talk about team work is “There is no I in TEAM.”

I disagree.

On the surface, this is true.  A good team is about the team’s success and about crossing the finish line together. However, in order to be a success, a team does need some I’s. 

I will handle and complete my responsibilities to the team.

I will take responsibility when it doesn’t go well.

I will push you when you’re stuck and think you can’t go on.

I will remind you why you started this journey.

I will reward you when you complete your part.

The I’s are the leaders.

Notice I didn’t say any of these statements:

I will be solely responsible for our success.

I will take the credit for prevailing.

I will stand in front of you and bask in the light.

I will make you feel like just another number.

I will be the reason.

See the difference?

You can be an individual that stands out, but as the team wins and succeeds, as a leader, you gather your team around you to celebrate, pushing them into the spotlight.  As you fail (and you will if you’re playing a big enough game), you step up and take responsibility.  That is true leadership.  That is what makes people want to follow you.  Real power comes when people take action and work because of who you are instead of what you can do to them.  They push to succeed not because you can fire them or punish them, but because they don’t want to disappoint you.  They want you to win too!

Something I tell every person I hire, whether a full-time team member or a consultant, is:  Make me look brilliant for doing this…In other words, I just chose you out of all the people I could pick from; let’s rock this. In turn, it is my job to put them in a position to be successful beyond their expectations. Without hesitation, I want them to make sure they can say working with me is the best decision they have ever made.  I want them to know and profess that I genuinely care about them and want them to win too.

This sets the tone for our relationship.  It is not a 50/50 proposition.  Each person doesn’t give half.  It is 100/100.  Both people give full effort at all times regardless of what the other does.   My job as the leader is to give them everything I have.  Their job as the team member is to receive it and do the same.  Magic happens when both sides give 100%.

So, if you’re on a team, are you willing to be that I?  If you’re in leadership, are you showing up as the I in your team?   

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