Many years ago when I worked in an Electronics Manufacturing Company, I was able to work myself up the hierarchical ladder into a Management/Leadership position with the title of Divisional Manager, allowing me to gain experience in both management as well as leadership positions.
With those positions I had responsibility for several different management positions that were assigned to me.
These responsibilities gave me cause to gather and put together what we called our management “Team,” looking into our various functional responsibilities that made up our organization, and addressing how we together could identify and accomplish specific challenges and/or goals that could only be accomplished by working together as a team.
In my working associations with many of my peer’s and even my leader’s, people I reported to, I never appreciated very much for the offhand remarks and innuendo’s that were sometimes made in reference, like in my division, or my organization, or I did this or that, or this person works for me, or any remark that carried a self-identity or personal gratification as to how things were accomplished.
It was a common practice for most managers to do that, especially in front of a corporate audience, but I often wondered what their subordinates felt when they heard those comments.
I know most of them never meant any negativity toward their people; it was more habit and self ego displaying itself, than anything else.
Well that was one habit I wanted our team to avoid as much as possible, so we went to some effort to remind all our team members that there is no letter “I” in the word team.
I would constantly say to our people that we are a team, an us, a group, that works together as a team.
Whenever one of our staff used the word “I,” or “my” in a self-image or ownership reflection, I would stare at them and usually hold two fingers on my forehead giving the signal for plural more than one, which would get some smiles, but also bring with it some quick clarification.
Well over time, we were able to become more consistent in showing some consideration and respect for the efforts and contributions of the many others that made up our team, especially our total organizational team.
In the course of working together throughout the year, we would have along the way our yearly personal performance reviews, getting together one on one to talk about how they were able to accomplish some functional objectives with their specific responsibilities, but also how they were coming along with some of their own personal development and learning objectives.
The interviews were very open and casual and were important for the purpose of understanding their problems and obstacles. and asking how we could help them with some of their career path objectives they were working towards.
It was after one of these sessions when I had just finished a personal interview, where the individual had made some outstanding progress in getting her master’s degree in human sciences, allowing her to build her relationships with her peer’s as well as her team members, which was one of her strong points. This was a person whose functional organization was displaying the confidence as well as the ability to go above and beyond some of their preset goals and challenges.
Reflecting on this afterwards it sort of hit me, that her Self, her team, as well as our team were becoming continuously better and better, so yes there had to be a letter “I” in the word team, as her progress reflected itself in the overall performance of the total organization.
So as the “I’s” got better, so did the team perform better. Obviously the inverse was true also, if a team member fell behind in some way or fashion it would reflect on the team’s performance, unless it was made up for by someone or group picking up the slack.
In my rethinking about the use of the word “I,” I am suggesting that we develop an abundance mentality, that there is enough good things happening around and within us that we need to share in the positive outcomes, there is room for all who participate to achieve some recognition, mainly because they were all involved in some way shape of form.
Sure there are those that have a little more ability, but they might not work as hard as some others, and also that is why we call it a team.
In thinking about this subject a lot more I decided to see if there was a chronological order of how an “I” or a “Self” might develop some insight as to how they might approach a self-assessment and take it into a continuous learning self-development process.
I sat own and penned an article titled: “The Six “I’s,
The “I” I am: To look deep inside ourselves facing the reality of our true self –
The “I” I wish I were: What would I like to change that would make me better –
The “I” I am perceived to be: How do people see and/or feel about me -.
The “I” I wish I were perceived to be: How will the changes I need to bring forth reflect and help me –
The “I” I can be: Looking at establishing some personal priorities –
“I” I will be: Here is where self-discipline and commitment come in to play –
All of this gives us each of us the ability to sit down, and maybe look into a mirror, and reflect on how we feel about the person looking back at us on each one of these conditions.
This is a place where we can learn to know ourselves a little better, address how we might come across to others, and evaluate our potential, and possibly begin to establish a commitment for what we feel we should or need to change about ourselves.
When we are able to reflect on all of this “I” stuff we can come to an understanding as well as a conclusion that “I” is really at the core of a “TEAM.”
“A bunch of “I’s” coming together is a beginning. The “I’s” we can be is progress. The “I’s” working together is a Winning Team.”
There is a story that seems to fit this discussion and may offer a better example of how the use of the term “I” can be used as a better example in team structures.
The Penn State University Football team’s game day dress code is a very basic plain blue and white. Plain white helmets, black shoes with no names on the Jersey’s. It is a very interesting scenario because they are about the only ones in college football that do not have names on the back of the jerseys.
Well anyway, the story goes that one day one of the players asked about why no names were allowed on the jerseys, and Coach Joe Paterno answered, there is no need for names on the back of the jersey the name on the front is what is important.
Well the interesting part of this statement was that there is no name of the front of the jersey either, but there is the face of the player that depicts the ‘I” of who they are.
So the bottom line here is, that there is no letter “I” in the word team, or in the words Leader or follower either for that matter, but all three are all made up of a special group of “I’s.”
The whole issue of Leaders/Followers, Team players, all comes from the same ingredients that make them unique, their individual focus on humility and unity, with a large dose of empathy mixed in.
And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. – Confucius
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. – Helen Keller