What did The Buddha say about Teamwork?
I was coaching a European Executive late last year who told me that while 30 people are supposed to show up for a monthly Senior Management Team meeting, often only 4 people show up. And, if they do show up, some don’t actively participate in the meeting but busy themselves by taking notes on their iPad’s. What do you think is happening here? Perhaps the following thoughts are also going through your head:
- Leader (will call him Joe) is unable to engage his management team in dialogue.
- Leader is unable to engage his team in taking responsibility for decision making.
- Team has lost respect for the Leader (because they don’t show up).
- Team does not trust the Leader and therefore members are afraid to speak.
- Leader’s negative subconscious beliefs are many such as, “I am a lousy communicator and therefore I don’t deserve respect and trust from my team members” and, “I don’t believe in my people”.
So what did The Buddha say about Teamwork? Buddha said that a Leader must be an exemplary figure, someone we can respect and emulate. Buddha, like all fully enlightened Teachers, was extraordinary, virtuous and righteous in every thought, word and deed. He did what he said he would do. Such integrity and consistency won him the trust of his followers. With such leadership characteristics, teamwork naturally happens.
These flowers to the right are from my garden. As an avid gardener, I learn a lot from nature. These three different flowers are sharing the same small space. Note how the blue bells are growing in between the yellow buds of this wallflower? And a yellow tulip is also delightfully sharing the same space. I don’t remember planting them this way; they just showed up this Spring – to my delight. These three plants are harmoniously and happily sharing the same space – not fighting each other, but complimenting each other.
This is how our corporate teams should also function. By practising team principles, we can harmoniously and happily share the same space. Instead, as you well know, jealousy, judgment, lack of confidence, hunger for power and ego, among other things, get in the way. Instead of complimenting each other we disperse our energies and fail to accomplish tasks in a cohesive manner. It is during these moments, we could remember, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
DEFINITION OF A ‘TEAM’
16 CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE TEAM
Imagine if Joe embraced and acted on the following characteristics of an effective team …
- Clear understanding of the organization’s Mission, Vision, Goals and the Values needed to achieve the Vision.
- High degree of communication between members.
- Effective decision-making methods.
- High degree of trust between members.
- High level of support between members (no back-stabbing but verbal and spiritual recognition).
- Flexibility in procedures.
- Good balance between productivity as a group and as an individual.
- Good balance between logical and relationship-based behaviours.
- Sensitivity to each other’s feelings.
- Understanding of each other’s strengths and areas of improvement.
- Shared leadership among the members – no one member is more important than the other.
- No cliques or domination by any one member.
- Utilization of each member’s experience and unique resources.
- High degree of cohesiveness.
- Constant evaluation of their progress as a team.
- Members know how to ask tough questions (have taken a coaches training program).
When customers sense poor teamwork, they may take their business elsewhere. And so it’s quite important for Joe to reap the many benefits from team planning:
- improved teamwork
- mutual understanding
- better knowledge of company vision
- issues are addressed
- you see the total business
- improved communications
- puts life into the evaluation process of issues
- improved attitudes
- more fun.
There’s that three letter word again — fun! Teams can be fun and productive at the same time.
TEAM GROUND RULES
There are certain ground rules that need to be followed for effective team planning. If Joe set the ground rules with his leadership team, their achievements would be extraordinary:
- attendance is mandatory to show respect to the team;
- everyone contributes;
- everyone listens and understands (iPads are set aside and full attention is on the team);
- everyone listens with their eyes, ears, heart and with undivided attention;
- conflicts between ideas are welcomed but we need to be nice about it – ego should be in the back garden;
- focus is on achieving a positive result;
- avoid arguing to “win” (the world is full of people who surface think);
- avoid voting, averaging and random choice, think things through;
- use logic and the most recent, relevant information available as well as the heart for balanced decision-making;
- each person takes responsibility by engaging in self development tools in order to strengthen the team’s output;
- leadership training programs are well attended by all in order to understand the components of personal and professional leadership;
- everyone is responsible for the decisions and results.
During Joe’s team planning-sessions, he could use good brainstorming techniques:
- leader ensures everyone is engaged in the discussion;
- no criticism allowed (or they will be asked to leave the room);
- try for quantity and quality ideas;
- combine and improve on each other’s ideas;
- try to be different and creative, be meditative for the highest frequency ideas;
- reach for the new and unfamiliar — be courageous! Take risks!
- use exaggeration and humour to push ideas beyond familiar limits.
Buddha was a great manager of his teams. With deep knowledge of human behaviour and enlightened intuition, he knew the strengths and areas of improvement of those around him. He delegated duties in keeping with the abilities and temperament of each disciple. Of particular note was how he showed his appreciation by recognizing their efforts.
Let’s celebrate Joe’s imminent success as a Team Leader!