It's a Team Sport
I often use this analogy, “Design is a Team Sport”. Just like there are some athletes that prefer and excel at individual sports, there are also those that prefer and excel at team sports.
Think swimming vs soccer, where in swimming you’re on a team but you really are just focused on your own performance and others don’t primarily affect how you do. Then occasionally you do participate in a relay (team event). You still cheer and support each other, however it’s you and only you responsible for getting off the blocks and to the finish line.
Now, with soccer or basketball, everyone plays a position and are 100% dependent on each other. If you perform poorly, and no one picks up the slack, you lose the game. If you don’t communicate well, help each other, play to each others strengths, you lose.
I am the coach and the loudest cheerleader, and this is how I approach leading my team. It’s also a clear expectation that I convey to my team members. Being coachable and thriving in this type of environment is one of my primary skills I look for in a design professional.
Rituals for Success
I’m fortunate to have learned from some great leaders and spent a part of my career designing learning products for Leaders. When you have to create something that teaches someone to do something, you first have to learn it yourself. So I’ve spent 2 years learning from great people researchers and data scientists, and really diving into studies about what makes high performing teams…high performing. I’ve also spent my life playing sports, both team and individual sports. All of this has shaped everything about my leadership approach.
My own rituals really are designed to help me, help my team, help my company. I connect regularly with my team members, I help them plan their career, I am constantly communicating with them around decisions, clearly define expectations and setting up the necessary processes to try to help everyone as much as possible.
I also believe that I wouldn’t ask my team or anyone do something that I’m not willing to do myself. There’s a great quote I love from Michael Jordan “Winning has a price. Leadership has a price. I pushed people when they didn’t wanna be pushed. I challenged people when they didn’t wanna be challenged. But I never asked them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself.”
Here are some of the rituals:
- Weekly Team Space Check Ins - this is a tool we use at Cisco but it’s something I’d carry with me to check in on if each team member is feeling engaged (loves and loathes)
- Individual 1:1s - each team member decides the cadence to discuss top of mind items, for coaching, and general wellness check
- Quarterly Development Discussions - regular connections to talk about their career and development plans
- Agile Team Rituals - daily standups, review meetings, planning meetings and retrospectives
Setting Clear Team Expectations - provide written team expectations of what I expect from everyone
Quotes that Inspire Me
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