Western society expects leaders to be in charge, to give tasks, and make sure that these tasks are completed. My style of leadership follows a different path. I genuinely believe that every person has something to offer their team. I make a point of learning what each individual on my team likes to do, is good at doing, and would prefer to do. I also find out where they need help. Once I know my teams, then we can figure out who is going to do what tasks. In my experience, people perform much better if most of the tasks they’re given are things they enjoy and are good at doing.
A team can be many different things: a company, a group of work colleagues, a group of volunteers, a professional organization, a chamber of commerce, a group of City Councillors and their Mayor, you get the idea.
Everyone is part of at least one team. No one makes it completely on their own. I acknowledge you, introverted loner, who works remotely, and rarely interacts with other people face to face. Even you have a loosely defined team. A team of people who grow, produce, cook and deliver food to you, a team of others who support the remote work that you do, by paying you for your work, which allows you to pay for the food, shelter and other basic necessities of life. A team that keeps electricity flowing to your home, if you’re off grid, then a team who manufactured the equipment you use to generate your own electricity, and the electric devices that you use.
Most of us can identify the teams we belong to more easily. If you work for an employer, then your work colleagues, supervisor and others at the same organization are part of your work team. If you’re in University or College, then the people you take classes with and study with are part of your team. As are your professors, the library and support staff, and everyone else you come in contact with while learning. If you’re a solo-entrepreneur like me, then your team includes all those who you form strategic alliances with, those you outsource tasks to, and your clients.
This weekend, I had the honour of being asked to do more for one of my professional associations’ teams. A wonderful group of women planned and held our first ever virtual Business and Professional Women (BPW) Ontario Conference. About 50 women from across the province participated in a seven and half hour conference. I had the honor of doing the land acknowledgement.
One of the things BPW is known for is advocating for better futures for women and girls. Part of how we do that is to create a set of resolutions that are refined until the majority of our members agree with the wording, before they are formalized and sent to the Government as part of an annual brief. One of my BPW Club’s members was the Resolutions Chair this year, she was responsible for coordinating the process. She asked me to be the “recorder” to capture any changes made to the resolutions live while we held the conference. It was a fabulous experience!
I’m not an expert on writing resolutions, all I had to do was capture the changes as they were presented, and save the approved version for my colleague. Others with much more experience with resolutions, and the topics covered, did the detail work. At least a dozen women were involved in keeping things on track, from ensuring all voting members were present and able to vote, to time keeping, presenting our financials and more. It was a great case study in people playing to their strengths as part of a team, united by a common goal.
Last week, during a virtual meeting hosted by BPW Edmonton, I learned of another team, where the City Council, in partnership with a number of agencies, companies and different levels of government, planned, and is building one of the first (if not the first) sustainable urban communities in Canada – Blatchford. I’ve quoted the top two paragraphs of their vision page:
“Building one of the world’s largest sustainable communities doesn’t happen without strong leadership and a strong vision.
Blatchford will be home to up to 30,000 Edmontonians living, working and learning in a sustainable community that uses 100% renewable energy, is carbon neutral, significantly reduces its ecological footprint, and empowers residents to pursue a range of sustainable lifestyle choices.”
This is what a team can accomplish, when people with different skills, knowledge, strengths and abilities work together towards a common goal.
I’m working in partnership with local organizations and other small Canadian companies on a few different and exciting projects. I expect to share news of some of these projects as they get nearer to completion.
In the mean time, I hope that you are open to finding and working with teams to achieve your vision for the future. Have a fabulous week!