I was recently a guest in The Align Remotely podcast, where Luke Szyrmer, the host, focuses on leading distributed teams and everything associated with that subject, like leadership and operations to help achieve together. It is particularly relevant now when nearly everyone works from home. It was a broad-ranging conversation, but we mainly focused on the topic of how to baseline the remote team culture.
We start the new team. We gathered a group of talented individuals and we want to grapple with the new challenge. How can we accelerate the team forming, storming and norming phase? We should start with team agreements. Once done, this exercise will boost team productivity. It will also help to create and maintain the team identity. It shouldn’t be the detailed documentation of the team proceedings in the wiki-style procedure. Instead, we should agree on things that are important for our team. Let’s take a look.
What do you think when you hear the word “responsibility”? The place where I come from (Poland) it usually has negative connotations, and it means you are in trouble. You broke the glass, you are responsible, and you need to pay for it. It comes hand in hand with the fact that our education systems teach us to avoid failures. All of that combined makes us think that responsibility is a bad thing, and we should avoid being responsible for things in our lives. Is this the full picture? What if we look at this from a different angle? If I am responsible, it means I am response-able – able to respond, able to think logically and move, fix and correct things around me. Let’s take a look at the Responsibility Process.
It was a long time ago. At that time, I was not too fond of trekking. Yet, I was there, exhausted, but happy. I was at the top of the mountain. I was with my friend who convinced me to go for this journey with him. To our surprise, there was a place where we could buy hot food. My friend asked me did I want anything. I said something like “yes probably, just bring me something”. He disappeared, and a moment later, he was back with a juicy, beautifully smelling burger. He brought me … nothing. I was furious. I was blaming him. It was years after when I realised that it was me who was wrong, and there is the right way to hold people accountable.
It was during the most difficult training. The task was simple; row the boat and compete with other teams. The challenge was to do it over and over again in cold weather. One team in one boat was consistently bad, coming as the last one. The instructor decided to implement risky manoeuvre – swap the leaders of the winning and losing boats. The result surprised everyone. However, the experienced instructor just said: “there are no bad teams, just bad leaders.“
It was 2010. I was sitting in a quiet coffee shop in the main square in Gdańsk. The main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop about how to be an effective leader in local communities. I was sipping coffee and reviewing my notes. At the time, almost everything was a revelation to me, especially the part on being heroic leader:
- be a protagonist – a person who creates reality
- it is so easy to be an antagonist
- a person who is in the best scenario – a passive observer of life,
- in the worst-case scenario – actively disturbing actions of the protagonist
- be a leader – everyone can be a leader – even on a very small area of influence
- do not wait for golden opportunity that are given you on a silver plate – make sure you extract the gold from casual situations
- read more on “Heroic Leadership” by Chris Lowney.
I was just holding the recommended book and reading the first chapter. The book that changed my approach to many things. It also shaped my choices in my life, in both: professional and private domains.