I had an interesting and rewarding time working with the leadership team of a fast growing company at their annual offsite. With exploding growth, and partners working in top gear for months, if not years, they were ready for new and next steps to get them to an advanced level with less stress. They invited me to be their team coach.

The group talked about vision and mission; discussed talent needs and challenges. Using the Myers Briggs instrument we were able to identify similarities and differences among the team members. The assessment also illustrated how the group could handle conflict as well as how they would spend their time when confronted with a challenge.

The partners were able to understand why certain poor decisions happened and then developed a mechanism to make sure the same problems did not occur again. An interesting point was made around recognition (as you know this is one of my favorite topics). Some members admitted they wanted more verbal approval and encouragement from their co-partners. Others were able to see that their co-workers’ needs differed from theirs in content and style. The members trusted one another. The feedback was presented in a conversational, non-accusatory manner allowing the participants to feel safe. It also encouraged individuals to ask for what they wanted rather than long for the unspoken. The process also modeled for the partners ways to achieve similar results through their direct reports.

So what does the success of this group have to do with you, your career and your organization?

If the 80s was the decade of the manager (remember the One-Minute Manager?), and the 90s focused on leaders (sometimes more like celebrities), the 00s is the time of team leadership. No longer are companies relying on a single person to drive the vision. The risks are too high, the talent thin. The needs demand depth and breath of knowledge as well as skills. Only a highly qualified team can meet the challenge. In addition, evidence shows us that successful teams produce greater results and happier employees. The shift, from manager to leader, individual to team, has made the ability to perform and participate in groups essential for anyone who wants to be a part of the solution.

I can hear you saying “I hate teams, groups and all of that stuff.” I did too. I remember being a graduate student and having to perform research in teams. I couldn’t stand the process. It seemed to take longer, we fought all the time and the quality suffered. Looking back I realize none of us knew how to work together. The professor taught us the basics of research but nothing about how to work as one. During this in-the-trenches experience I learned more about group functioning than I did in all my formal group dynamics classes. When I entered the private sector I came to like team projects. They provided me with the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the company, and work with experts. There was mutual respect and a shared desire to find a solution. The successes seemed more rewarding when shared. It was generally more fun. I could not have succeeded in many of my positions were it not for the strong teams I had created (or sometimes assigned) and managed.

If you are managing a number of people, consider placing them on more team projects. Mix the groups up. It is amazing the fresh ideas an outsider can bring to a challenge. Get yourself assigned to some important and influential groups/teams. These can be within your organization and/or on the outside in industry related forums. Being part of the leadership committee is a great way to learn about other areas, meet powerful people and prepare for the next level.

So here is the challenge!

Think of the teams you formerly or currently are on. Compare a highly successful one to a group that did not function well. Analyze what was your role in each? Rewind — what would have made the outcome and the experience better, more successful? How can you create this in your current situation?

If you are currently working on a team initiative take a long hard look at the opportunity. Where do you need to step-up? Are you doing too much of the basic tasks? How can your signature get securely placed on the final product?

If you are always working solo investigate how you can become involved with some form of group. For solopreneurs this can be essential for keeping current and also warding off the loneliness many self-employed people struggle with.

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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