One of the most difficult challenges when your team or organization faces adversity is to trust the people around you. It’s natural when things aren’t going well to want control, yet control isn’t the best way to get the most out of your team. And when you are struggling, that’s exactly what you need.
The military uses a phrase that I use with my teams a lot – “In command, without control.” I want to train my teams to handle everything that is going to come their way on the court, but when it’s time to make key decisions I don’t want control over them. They are empowered to make the right decisions based on the way we’ve prepared.
I’ve found that when adversity hits I often find my own confidence in the group. Granted, the players are looking for direction, but given a voice and some shared responsibility they will feel a responsibility to find success. Let your entire team gain confidence from the people around them by asking questions, sharing the responsibility and empowering everyone to play to their strengths.
Avoid going into a shell as the leader when things get tough. Your team will sense your uneasiness and lack of confidence in them, and that is not a game plan for improvement.
As you take a collective approach, make sure you share and delegate responsibility. Assign specific tasks to team members, and include detail about the approach and expectations. “Tim, I’m putting you in the starting line-up. I need you to be the best defender on the team, and take on the opponents best player every night. This team needs you to shut him down. Can you do that for me?” Be very specific about what you expect out of everyone, and assign the tasks directly. Any meeting you have with your organization should end with a plan of action. “We’ve had a great discussion about how we are going to get better moving forward. Now let’s talk about the actions-steps. Here is what we are going to do when we leave this room.” Specific, detailed action-steps are an essential part of any plan to overcome adversity.
There was a great study done by researchers at MIT on high-performing teams, and they found that the best teams showed 3 things – they were empathetic, everyone was willing to help, and the responsibility was shared amongst the group. Everyone on the team played an equal role in the success of the group. The teams that had one or two alpha-dogs leading the way, telling everyone what was going to happen and taking on most of the responsibility, weren’t as successful. The best way to get the most out of your team is to collaborate, even when the chips are down.
Resist the urge to take complete control when things aren’t going your way. Trust the people around you and empower them to help with specific, detailed action-steps. Taking the solo route is only going to make things more difficult and likely alienate members of your team. Collaborate with them and count on them to get your team back on the right path.