The Key to Team Success: Know Thyself

Shannon Waller
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What to focus on: just power through to get stuff done, or take the time to really know your strengths and the strengths of those around you?

While it’s sometimes hard to take a step back from “doing” to focus on what talents you and others bring to the table, it’s actually the faster and easier way to get work done.

The teams I work with that experience the biggest breakthroughs are the ones who know themselves very well. They know their strengths, their interests, their passions, and their experience. They invest in profiles that help them put language to these capabilities and are always looking for how they can tap into one another’s Unique Ability.

It’s these teams that not only get the most done, they do it easily and have fun in the process.

This is in direct contrast to what I like to call the Brute Force method — how I accomplished most of my results early in my career. This approach is characterized by working very long hours, working very hard, and doing it all myself. Instead of tapping into Unique Teamwork, I was the very definition of a Rugged Individual.

At Coach we talk a lot about accomplishing results faster, easier, cheaper and bigger than we have before. How do we do this? By knowing and playing to our strengths.

This requires that we be self-aware. It means really knowing ourselves, paying attention to where we’re successful and where we’re not, and appreciating what each of us brings to the table.

The advantage of self-awareness.

If you and the people on your team are self-aware, you instinctively know what works and what doesn’t work. You know how to work with each other and can also see how you can improve your teamwork.

People without that perspective plunge in, wreak havoc, and make huge messes for themselves or others because they assume that everyone else is just like them and should do things their way.

[bctt tweet=”“My personal rule is that I trust people to the degree that they know themselves.” Shannon Waller”]

“My personal rule is that I trust people to the degree that they know themselves. If they don’t, guess what? Neither will I!”

Someone who thinks they’re good at everything, or that they should be, is difficult to have teamwork with. With self-awareness, though, comes humility: You know how your capabilities create value, but you also know where you need support. That’s a great opening for teamwork.

There are tools for this.

At Strategic Coach, we’ve discovered — through hard experience — how to make teamwork really sing. We’re not perfect, but we have the advantage of knowing our results on several profiles we use for identifying strengths, talents, and preferences.

I wouldn’t say I’m a profile junkie, but I have done an awful lot of them, and I think these are the best.

  • Wonderlic: The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test has 50 questions, to be answered in 12 minutes, that give you an indication of a person’s intelligence. It has a long, solid history, and is used by organizations like the NFL.
  • Myers-Briggs: This is a great indicator that identifies how introverted or extroverted you are. Of all the tests that measure this “affective” aspect — your personality and feelings — this is among the best. And this is good information to have: Where do you go to get your energy back — from being out in the world, or from going within?
  • DISC: The DISC model of human behavior measures whether you’re outgoing or reserved, fast- or even-paced, and task- or people-focused.
  • StrengthsFinder: Another “affective” tool, this time measuring your strengths. We’re very fond of this tool and do it with every one of our team members, because it shows us how that person can play to their natural advantages, and how we can support them.
  • Kolbe: Kolbe is unique in that it measures the “conative” part of your mind — that is, your striving instincts. How do you naturally go about doing things? How does your energy play out when you’re free to be yourself? I coach a lot on Kolbe, and I know the Kolbe profiles for every person on my team because it’s an excellent tool for understanding how to put people in a position where they can thrive and win.

One of our clients after taking the Kolbe index, joked, “Before I knew about this, I thought everyone was like me, only not as good.” And that could apply to any one of these profiles!

They aren’t expensive, and they’re some of the best investments you will ever make in yourself. When you’re really clear about what you’re best at, and you have a way to talk about it, you give yourself permission to be confident and also permission to ask for help.

Whether you’re a business owner or a team member, the more you know yourself, the more cognizant and articulate you are about your strengths and talents, and the more appreciative you are about other people’s strengths and talents. That’s a huge factor in team success.