In Project Management, Team Effectiveness

Four years seem to have passed by so quickly and it’s taken nearly that long for my ears to stop ringing from the blaring Vuvuzella assault from the last World Cup or maybe age makes the years go by faster and hearing recover slower….who knows!

Well it’s that time again when the passions of fans and nations have literally ‘kicked-off’, and yet when driving around this week I get a sense that there are not as many fluttering flags adorning back car windows proudly displaying our blinkered enthusiasm and support, as there were four or even eight years ago. Is it that we’re no longer throwing  our patriotic caution to the wind  or are we still recovering from the 3rd degree burns from sticking our hands in the fires of hope and glory.

But either way, is that how new untested teams should be supported?

Should we cheer them on with an unreserved faith of new hopes of winning or do we take a more muted display of English reserve. A reserve of both judgement and rewarded support that’ll save us another bottle of burn lotion and a trip to emotional A&E, or should we just oil up and dance around the fire again, with unbridled support and fearless of the flames that are there to toast our World Cup marshmallows.

For me it is the latter.

This is a new team, fresh, youthful and full of latent World Cup talent so should our past scars have any reflection on the emotional let-downs of years gone by?  New team, new manager so why not new hope?

So I say, once more into the breach dear friends let’s give this team the same exuberant support we’ve done with teams past.

This team could be different. They are not made up of a group of players that individually and for their clubs were supremely talented but somehow never managed to gel as a national team. Was it ego, rivalries, relationships or were there too many seasoned veterans in the team who felt that they should be the one to follow?

Who cares! It is never the teams responsibility to lead. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review (link at the bottom) J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams, revealed just how bad people often are at teamwork. Most of the time, his research shows, team members don’t even agree on what the team is supposed to be doing. Getting agreement is the leader’s job, and he or she must be willing to take great personal and professional risks to set the team’s direction. And if the leader isn’t disciplined about managing who is on the team and how it is set up, the odds are slim that a team will do a good job. 

During the interview he went on to say  “I have no question that when you have a team, the possibility exists that it will generate magic, producing something extraordinary, a collective creation of previously unimagined quality or beauty. But don’t count on it. Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have. That’s because problems with coordination and motivation typically chip away at the benefits of collaboration.”

So who should bear this burden and shape a group of individual talents into a cohesive unit that can concentrate on their jobs within and for the team. That role and responsibility belongs to one person. The leader / manager / CEO.

Hackman goes on to say “Leaders who are emotionally mature are willing and able to move toward anxiety-inspiring situations as they establish a clear, challenging team direction. But in doing so, a leader sometimes encounters resistance so intense that it can place his or her job at risk.”

So what is our role in this? As  (the fans, the supporters) our role is simple. We support unequivocally.

We should not let this 2014 England TEAM carry the weight of past team failures even though they will be very aware of it. So let them counter that by also then carrying the past support and enthusiasm of a nation that still believes in them and let’s make them very aware of it.

Good Luck Team England.

Link to the full Harvard Business Review Interview below

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