Leadership Between the Lines

Dare To Engage Your Team: Make Room for Your Best Self and Do What You are Here to Do

Take a moment to ponder all that you are involved with in your life. Your organization, your family, your personal goals and commitments, health, finances, soccer games, etc.

Thinking about all that we have to do, and all we're committed to, can create a sense of overwhelm just in itself (although, our thoughts about what we have to do and how we "feel" about overwhelm are actually more stressful and overwhelming than the real tasks to be done - but that's a whole other article.)

In fact, thinking about your "to do" list too much can disconnect you from the greater game you're playing, the bigger impact that you want to have in your life. So better than to get lost in the minutia of all that has to be done, it's best to find ways to support you in staying connected to the bigger vision and keeping your eye on the ball WHILE you make sure that the details get taken care of.

One way to do this is to engage your team. And this comes with many benefits; all in service of you, your vision and even them.

When you read the title of this article, my guess is you automatically went to "engage a team" as in a work team. That's great, and important, AND I also want to invite you to think about another team in your life and that's your "personal team." This is the team, outside of work, who helps you bring the best of yourself to your work and life. Who helps you create the impact you're here to create and engage with the people in your life (including your work team) more fully and more effectively.

Ask yourself this question (ditch the inner critic here please):

"Am I bringing the best of myself to my work and life? OR am I so overwhelmed trying to do everything (and stuff I'm not great at or don't like), that I can only bring bits and pieces of myself? Where could I be more engaged and productive?"
Also, ask yourself "How supported do I feel? With all the responsibilities I carry in leadership, do I have a supportive space to lean (or fall) into?" Again, no judgment, just notice your answers and take a look at the resources below.

Because I believe both teams are so important - teams at work and personal teams - I've addressed both. How can one or all of these help you?

Below are three paths to creating a stronger team at work. Do just one of them and I promise you'll see an immediate shift in the dynamic of your team.
For the team with little or unclear/ unconnected direction: Have a team "Visioning Session." What's the mission and vision of your team? What's the intended impact of all of you coming together? What are you there to do? Discuss it as a team and then share individually how each of you are connected to that vision. Share why that's important to you, how you feel you can best support it and what your team mates can count on your for. A team with a "mission" and a "vision", or a conscious shared intention, with members who are engaged and committed to showing up and being counted on, is a powerful force.

For the team with tension or an "elephant in the room": Have a team "Heart to Heart." What's getting in the way of you working more effectively together? What's not being said? What do each of you need from each other to move forward productively? To feel safe, to take risks and to show up authentically with the rest of the team? What kind of structure will support you in having regular open conversations? Sound too quirky or soft for work? Naaa --- definitely not. Strong teams have the permission to show up fully, express dreams and concerns, take risks and bring the best of themselves to their work. This means they honor and appreciate differences, communicate openly, provide space for "failure," and give productive feedback. And to do this requires openness to a "heart to heart." By the way, this can take years to develop, it is definitely a process, so start now!

For the serious team or the team who's been working too hard: Have some fun. Sounds cliché eh? Maybe, and yet oh so true. Have you noticed how easy it is to forget to have fun and play when you're with your team? We so easily get sucked into drama and logistics and all the work that has to be done, that we lose sight of fun. It gets very serious. Get outside. Have a team meeting on the river. Go climb a wall together. Do some improv. Play with your team like a child. Bring in 6 pieces of paper, coloring crayons, a potato and a rope to your next meeting and see what you can create. (Email me, most creative team gets a prize.)

Okay, now let's talk about your personal team. It is actually quite simple. We can do things alone --- yes - AND we are so much more powerful in community. I know you have things you want to get done in this lifetime. You have a vision you want to fulfill through your life or your work. You have goals. There's a lot to do. Your best self, your unique talents and passion can actually get lost in all that has to be done - in all the mind chatter. So why not get help so you can bring the best of you to your goals?

People like it when we ask them for help. But we have to ask. A personal team could consist of (but would not be limited to): a coach, a fan of you/advocate, a friend, a personal trainer, a lawyer, an accountant, a mentor, a peer buddy, a feedback team, an advisor, a spouse, your kids, a house cleaner, a financial advisor, an assistant, a personal shopper, a publicist, someone who is the exact opposite of you that beautifully complements your strengths, a designer, a nutritionist, a nanny or babysitter, etc. You get the picture, it's truly an individual recipe for success.

Here's an example of what this CAN look like: Matt, a client of mine, had some big goals. Many of his goals were professional (leadership, results, sales, impact, relationships, etc.), but even more so, it was the personal goals that needed to be addressed that would help him manifest the professional goals more effectively. And there was no reason to do it alone. We decided that he would need to set up a fabulous support structure so that he would be pursuing his goals, in relationship, so that he could leverage his skills, and so that he would have a great support system. He created an AWESOME team (that his kids named "TEAM MATT" ) which consisted of family members, his wife, kids, his friends, colleagues and myself as his coach. We all knew we had a job to do in supporting him. And we came to that team with great intentions and care.

The result; Matt accomplished his goals, lost 70 pounds, and deepened his connection with his family, friends and co-workers in the process. Could he have done it alone? Sure, probably. But the experience and growth of creating, engaging and leading a team, and of asking for help, was priceless. An unintended impact? It challenged everyone on his team to show up more fully in different ways, to learn more about their own strengths and talents, and it inspired others to start their own processes and teams.

This kind of work is contagious, when we fully engage with others, show up and ask for help where we need it, it invites them to do the same. Imagine the space you can create with the people you lead by modeling asking for help, creating teams that support each other and then obtaining powerful results.

You'll know what feels right for you in engaging your team(s), business or personal. The main criteria here is that the people on your team help you focus on what you need to focus on. They'll help bring out the best in you, making more room for YOU and the impact you want to have in your life, organization, etc. Engaging your team helps you immensely, builds relationship, invites others to do the same and simply helps you do what you're here to do more effectively.

Some of the qualities you'll want in people on your personal team include the following:

They are there to support and champion you. It's great if they give you productive feedback. If it comes from a place of service and pure intention for what will help you be successful, you'll hear it and you can put it to great use.

They help you find clarity. And they help you be your most powerful you. Your best self.

They make life easier. They give you something that you can't do for yourself - or you could but it would take a lot of time and energy and would not be the best use of you. Most likely they will compliment your "weaknesses" and they'll love doing the tasks you don't like doing. (IE. my life changed when I hired my assistant who is great at taking techy stuff; websites, blogs, etc. and making it work. Can I do that? Sure, but it takes me 5 times as long and LOTS of energy that could be better spent on working with you.)

You trust them. They are committed to you, to your success and are willing to tell you the truth.

You feel supported and cared for with this person on your team. Much like #1, basically, this team makes you feel good.

So what is your criteria for your success team?

Make it real: Take the top 3 things you're working on right now (could be work or personal related) and map out how engaging someone on your team (or adding someone to your team) could help you move towards your desired results more easily, peacefully, effectively and joyfully. Once you've got that, select a team, being VERY intentional and clear about what role each person will play. (Already have a well defined team? Great! You can use this exercise to get even clearer with each other.) Notice your energy with each selection - does it feel easy or hard? And then ask them to be on your team. Make sure that you are clear with your requests and let them know how they can best support you. Fully engage with your team and see how much more you can create in your life.

Anese Cavanaugh is a certified coach, author and speaker and the founder of Dare To Engage, Inc., a company devoted to helping leaders become top leaders in their organizations and their lives through coaching and training. Her specialty is helping leaders build a healthier, more engaged workforce, retain their top talent, develop greater authentic engagement and create stronger personal sustainability. She holds a degree and multiple credentials in the areas of coaching, wellness, leadership development and health & productivity improvement. For more about Anese or the Dare To Engage Programs or to receive a complimentary report and audio on "Energy & Results" go to www.DareToEngage.com.