In the past, I’ve shared the value of being a “Kamerman teammate” – that is, going the extra mile to make your teammate look good. It’s a mindset shift for most of us, and a complete game-changer at that. I’d like to take this concept a step further and share some practical ways to get started. Over the course of my career thus far, I’ve found that these twelve strategies for extraordinary teamwork not only make your team stronger, they have the power to significantly influence the culture of your organization if others begin to follow your example.
Come to Meetings with Recommendations
When you do this, you save time and effort from everyone involved. Instead of requiring everyone in the meeting to contextualize and determine next steps, your recommendations provide a frame of reference. Your recommendations aren’t mandatory, but they are a head start. Side benefit: if you keep up the initiative, your influence will grow as well.
Anticipate Information Needs
“Who needs the information our team possesses?” It’s an easy question to ask. The hard part is making others’ needs a priority. Unfortunately, many leaders aren’t very aware of the organizational priorities outside the team, which severely limits their influence. When you identify an information need, do everything you can to meet it before being asked.
Ask for Input from Key Stakeholders Before Planning Season
Failing to plan may equate to planning to fail. But failing to consider what your key stakeholders will need from you during planning sessions is almost as bad. Planning isn’t just about your goals. It’s about proactively meeting the needs of the organization as they occur (not afterward).
Play to Your Teammates’ Strengths
We all bring a unique set of strengths to the table. Gallup research shows when we work in our areas of strength, we are six times as likely to be highly engaged. But in order to help your teammates work in their areas of strength, you have to know what those strengths are. Invest in a strengths assessment, such as StrengthsFinder.
Understand Your Teammates’ Goals and Motivations
I’m familiar with my goals. But what about yours? What about the rest of the team’s? It’s a huge mistake to assume everyone is “in it” for the same reason. Take the time to understand what winning looks like for your teammates. Then help them get there.
What tools have you used that others could benefit from? A leadership book library? A project planning template? A list of helpful vendors? Let your team know what you have in your inventory and frequently offer to share with them.
Share Good Ideas
Many people share their good ideas at the water cooler, but few take the initiative to submit them through appropriate processes. If you see something, say something. Not all organizations will be receptive, but for some, your idea may make all the difference in the world.
Share Your Network
You don’t need to be a socialite to be a connector of people. It doesn’t cost anything to build a Rolodex. Don’t let it go stale. From time to time you’ll encounter someone who “needs a guy (or gal)” to help solve a problem. Offer to make the connection.
Share Key Learnings
It’s a shame how much investment goes into individual training for employees compared to the collective knowledge gained. Set the example by sharing what you’re learning from your coursework, conferences, books and on-the-job experiences. Ask for a few minutes to share in team meetings. Host a lunch and learn. Email links to helpful content.
Set Your Teammates Up in Big Meetings
No one wants to look stupid in meetings. That’s one reason why some people are so slow to speak up. Imagine the reaction when you allow a teammate to deliver the big punchline at a crucial meeting. You might shock them. Guess what: you don’t have to imagine it. You can do it if you’re willing to share the glory.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Not all feedback is constructive or helpful. In fact, unsolicited feedback can be risky. Ask permission to give feedback. Recently, I had the chance to provide feedback to several leadership teams before they presented project recommendations to a group of senior executives. My job wasn’t to try to correct them – it was to help them to look good in front of their bosses.
Remember, your words have power. Use them wisely – but use them.
By the way, if you need some, here’s how to get great feedback for yourself.
Give Public Credit
When we’ve achieved success, it can be tempting to hog the credit. Don’t give in! Share the praise. Highlight the contributions of others. Be good at making others look good.
I hope by now you’ve noticed all the incredible ways each of us has to influence not only our teams, but our organization as a whole. I’ve said many times that you don’t need to be especially skilled or qualified to be a leader. Just take the opportunities you already have in front of you. They’ll take you much further than you think.