Ravi Shankar Rajan


1 AMAZING Secret of Every INSANELY Successful Team

They play UNSELFISH. They play TOGETHER. They play HARD.

In 2012 Google brought together its best statisticians, organizational psychologists and engineers and kick-started a project named as “Aristotle”.

Project Aristotle aimed to discover the “secret recipe” behind a successful project team. The team in the next couple of months analyzed millions of data points, interviewed thousands of employees and delved deep into the success stories of countless projects.

The results revealed a lot of data patterns but none of it proved conclusive enough. But all changed when a senior researcher looked at the data with a new perspective and discovered something called psychological safety.

So what exactly is psychological safety?

Simply put, psychological safety is the state of mind where team members feel comfortable speaking up and sharing a sense of “mutual respect” towards each other.

Such mutually respecting teams thus get together seamlessly and create wonders repeatedly without any supervision what so ever.

So how to instill this sense of psychological security within the team?

Here are some things which can be done….

Don’t only meet but KNOW every team member

Peter Guber rightly said.

“Nothing replaces being in the same room, face-to-face, breathing the same air and reading and feeling each other’s micro-expressions. “

Some of you may argue that meeting each and every team member is not feasible and is a waste of time and effort. A simpler approach is always to conduct a “group” meeting and communicate to everybody once and for all. This will help you to free your time for “other” priorities.

I am sorry this approach is never going to work if your team comprises of a set of unique human beings( with zombies it might work ,of course !!!). You can’t forget that organizational success flows from the hearts and minds of the men and women you lead.

Rather than treating your people as you’d like to be treated, treat them as they would like to be treated. Small gestures like opting for face-to-face meetings or sending personal notes can have an enormous impact on teams and their morale.

Always remember, people have something more to offer beyond their role descriptions and KPIs. Performance potential varies from individual to individual and the trick is to engage them to their maximum potential.

Practice Collective Ownership

Mary Barra hits the nail on the head when she says.

What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.”

Any application requires collaborative effort to develop. In that context, it is sheer foolishness to assign “territorial” ownership to any piece of code. You not only increase the risk of keeping it in the hands of a single developer but also creates a “discrimination” system within the team which ultimately leads to conflicts and face-offs.

Once you start practicing collective ownership, you will find the overall knowledge of the team increasing as you rotate them within tasks and roles while giving them the opportunity to learn and work on different parts of the application. On the other side, every developer will be more careful and disciplined while working as he or she will be aware that others are watching.

Always remember, Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization — staff, players, coaches, management, and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops, and teams can grow and succeed together.

Create Mentor-Mentee relationships within the team

Bob Proctor defines a mentor as

someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.

Alexander the Great valued mentoring so highly, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge than to his father Philip for life. Mentor-Mentee is always two-way win-win relationship.

By taking time to explain, a mentor not only improves his own understanding but he also gets a different perspective of his work when the mentee asks questions. These relationships not only motivate the team but also improves the overall competence of the team.

Always remember The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not cloning them into the mentor’s image but giving them the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity. At the end of the day, every mentee needs to charter his own unique path and this is something a leader should ensure.

Build Trust within the team

Ernest Hemingway rightly said.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

A team without trust isn’t really a team: it’s just a group of individuals, working together, often making disappointing progress. They may not share information, they might battle over rights and responsibilities, and they may not cooperate with one another. It doesn’t matter how capable or talented your people are; they may never reach their full potential if trust isn’t present.

However, when trust is in place, each individual in the team becomes stronger, because he or she is part of an effective, cohesive group. When people trust one another, the group can achieve truly meaningful goals.

Always remember The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is trust because trust builds excellence which in turn leads to empowerment.

Don’t Spoon-feed, allow them to figure it out

E. M. Forster correctly said.

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

“Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime”. And he won’t bother you again for weeks. A good leader teaches his teammates to fish, not just handing them a fish every day.

Spoon-feeding creates employees, who are dependent and compliant, rather than self-organized team members. Not only that, but also spoon-feeding managers often come across as controlling, overbearing, or untrusting. When you have a supportive management style, the focus is not so much on what you produce, but on the growth of individuals for the betterment of the whole.

Management blogger Bret Simmons give this great piece of advice about what supportive environment looks like:

“Employees need support at work if they are expected to deliver the performance and citizenship that result from engagement. If employees believe they work for folks that don’t value their contributions or care about their well-being, they won’t feel safe enough to fully engage in their work.”

Always Remember to inculcate the following three rules within your team.

· If you do not GO after what you want, you will never have it.

· If you do not ASK, the answer will always be NO.

· If you do not step forward, you will always remain at the same place.

Bringing it all together

So who is the one common factor behind every team?

It is the leader leading the team.

Behind every successful team is an INSANELY effective leader. Behind every unsuccessful team is an INCORRIGIBLY ineffective leader. In a nutshell, a leader makes or breaks a team. That is, it!!!

As John C. Maxwell has rightly said:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

About the author-:

Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

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