Joltin’ Joe & The Power of Teamwork and Collaboration

A recent family experience reinforced to me how a group of people, working together, can efficiently come up with solutions that are far superior to what any one individual can accomplish.

It was a typical weekday evening, and my daughter was working on a school project. Her assignment was to develop an informative and entertaining multi-media presentation. She chose to use Prezi as her presentation software, because it’s a fresh and interesting storytelling tool. She wanted to add music to her presentation. From the other room she shouted, “Dad, I’m doing a presentation, and I need a good baseball song; can you give me a few?” I ran through the classic Take me out to the Ballgame, Centerfield, by John Fogerty, and Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen options, but she wasn’t moved. When I asked her for more specifics about the presentation, she shared that the topic was the life of Joe DiMaggio. I immediately shared, “What about Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel.” As an indication of our generation gap, she replied, “Who are they, they sound like lawyers? And what does Mrs. Robinson have to do with baseball?” Once she listened to the song and realized that Joe DiMaggio’s name is mentioned, she ran with the idea.

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A short while later, she came into the other room frustrated that she couldn’t properly sync the song with the content she had developed. She shared that the timing of the song wasn’t right, and she didn’t know what to do. Her younger brother quickly chimed in, “why don’t you just drop it into Garage Band and crop it so that it works for you?” “That’s a great idea,” she replied. She was back in business.

Her final challenge was a strong finish. She showed us the presentation, and she wasn’t thrilled with the ending. My wife suggested that she sync the lyrics, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio … Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away,” to the final portion of the presentation about Joe’s death. She went back to work, made the adjustments, and she loved the final product.

So what does a Tuesday night family experience have to do with your Wealth Advisory team? Potentially, quite a bit. My daughter never would have achieved her end result without the benefit of Teamwork & Collaboration. Effective collaboration helps teams make better decisions. It helps them come up with better solutions. It makes them more creative. It challenges assumptions, and expands possibilities. In fact, Collaboration is one of the keys to the Holy Grail of teams – synergy. Why then, do teams often fall short of realizing the potentially business-transforming benefits of Collaboration?

The answer is that Collaboration doesn’t occur automatically; it needs the right environment and culture. First, the team needs to have a high level of Trust. According to Patrick Lencioni, the best-selling author of the Five Dysfunctions of Teams, “there is no more powerful attribute than the ability to be genuinely honest about one’s weaknesses, mistakes and needs for help. Nothing inspires trust in another human being like vulnerability – there is just something immensely attractive and inspiring about humility and graciousness.” In this case, my daughter was comfortable asking for help, and this led to a far superior outcome. The relationship between Trust and vulnerability goes both ways – a high Trust level allows team members to be comfortable with vulnerability, and the willingness to be vulnerable, particularly in a Team Leader, enhances Trust on a team.

There are two other important team elements that allowed Collaboration to flourish in this situation. First, no one on this “team” cared who got the credit for the ideas. In this case, my daughter got all of the credit – in this case a good grade – and my wife, son and I were happy to help. Similarly, no team members had an agenda. If my son were worried about his sister looking better than him academically, he may not have been as forthcoming with his assistance.

Is your team realizing the potential benefits of Collaboration? Here’s a checklist you can us to assess your team:

  1. Everyone participates in our team meetings, and shares their perspectives and ideas
  2. If a team member has a strategy to develop or a problem to solve, they seek input from others to develop optimal outcomes
  3. Team members put the team ahead of their personal agendas
  4. It’s ok on our team to admit that we need help and to acknowledge that we don’t always have all the right answers
  5. Our Team Leader sets the strategic direction for the team, but we all have input on the best ways to accomplish our goals

Remember, one of the great things about being on a team is that you’re not alone. You all get to benefit from each other’s skills, insights, perspectives and creativity. Good luck on your ongoing journey to realize all of the potential benefits of an optimized team.