I have met leaders in organizations around the world who act as if leadership is all about them. They want everybody to recognize that they are in charge. They believe that all the brains in the organization are in their office.
People who think that way certainly aren’t servant leaders. They are self-serving leaders who miss out on the reality that their people are capable of much more than they are given credit for. As a result, the best people exit the organization as soon as possible and search for a company where leaders see their people as partners rather than subordinates (subordinary people).
Servant leaders, on the other hand, realize leadership is about working alongside their people, sharing information, and keeping lines of communication open. When that happens, people get to know each other’s strengths and build on them to help the team perform at the highest level. They prove that 1+1 is greater than 2.
The Power of Teamwork and Inclusivity
Tapping into the talent, wisdom, and creativity of your people solves problems faster and gets more done. Why? Because as Don Carew, Eunice Parisi-Carew, and I point out in The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams, “No one of us is as smart as all of us.”
A thrilling and inspiring example of this principle is the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Twenty young men—many of whom had never played together before—came from colleges all over the country. Six months later they won the Olympic gold medal, defeating the best teams in the world—including the Soviet Union, a team that had been playing together for years. No one expected this to happen. It is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history and is labeled a miracle.
Thirty-eight years to the day later, the US women’s hockey team pulled off the same miracle.
When members from both teams were interviewed, all without exception attributed their success to teamwork. The drive, commitment, cohesiveness, cooperation, trust, team effort, and passionate belief in a common purpose—“Go for the gold”—were the reasons for their success.
Making Common Sense Common Practice
Using the power of a team to get things done may seem like common sense, but many leaders don’t—or won’t—allow their teams to “go for the gold.” If you want to create a high performing team, you need to do the following:
- Face the fact that your people already understand that you don’t know everything.
- Ask for help from your team members when you are making decisions or trying to find solutions to problems.
- Let them know everyone’s contribution is needed and appreciated.
When you model this side-by-side leadership philosophy, your team will be ready and willing to get on board. So, the next time you’re faced with pressure or complexity, don’t be a lone hero. Tap into the knowledge and power of your team!
“No One Of Us Is As Smart As All Of Us” is Simple Truth #19 in the new book I’ve coauthored with Randy Conley, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. It’s on sale now at your favorite bookstore or online retailer. Go here to download an eBook summary for a preview!