Team Behavior Building Start with Demonstrating Desired Behavior
Team Behavior Building: Of course you know that your attitude affects your behavior. But what may surprise you is to know just how much your behavior affect the behavior of others. The image on the left shows the so-called Betari Box to demonstrate just how circular the impacts are. Naturally it can produce both positive and negative results.
In the title I say, ‘build your team through your behavior’, but I might equally have said, ‘build your team through your attitude’. An example in practice is the 2004 founded PatientsLikeMe—a patient network and real-time research platform that the founders claim is a “for-profit company (with a not-just-for-profit attitude)”.
Sadly, we all too often create our own mess. Team behavior building does not come from manuals, it comes from leaders’ behavior. That is not to say that if we are sad, we should run around slapping our colleagues on the back and saying what a wonderful day it is. But we should notice our own attitude and behave in a way that will not have a negative effect upon those with whom we are trying to build the venture.
All too frequently big corporations make claims about their integrity that simply don’t get borne out in practice. The startup is small enough for honesty to breed trust. The aim is not to crush individual attitudes and behavior, but to create an atmosphere of interdependence that enable individuals to work in the common interest for the benefit of the whole.
If we want to the mirror to reflect back the kind of atmosphere we want in the business, then we have to be the role model. If you have just failed to win a big contract, you are naturally going to be disappointed, but you need be sufficiently awake that you do not display it such that your team will also be so and begin to think that the company will never be able to win any big contracts.
What is possible—and desirable—is to have a behavior that demonstrates how you can get back on the horse and ride again after the fall. There are some practices which you can easily use to make the experience positive. Meet with the team and work on the possible and probable causes of not getting the contract (Look among the Venture Founders Tools and see which ones you might use).
Do not be afraid to show your own vulnerability. I remember working as a consultant to an oil major whose CEO complained to me that his subordinates never shared the difficulties they faced, nor did they propose solutions to any problems. I suggested, very gently, that maybe the problem did not lie with the subordinates, but rather with him. We worked on this for a while and it was he who came to see that his tough exterior was acting as a barrier. He started to encourage staff to come to him with bad news, but to come with potential solutions that could be discussed. He explained that he was not always the one with a solution and did not expect them to have all the answers either.
Startups do not generally have the ivory tower of the C-Suite and entrepreneurs should avoid ivory towers at all cost. If you want to be open, you must be the one to demonstrate what openness is.
We all have the ability to choose an attitude. When we wake up in the morning, we normally start our routine and don’t consciously think about the attitude we’ll have for the day, but team behavior building starts with ourselves. We will be unconsciously affected by our own recent experience and won’t pause for reflection. It is a wise practice to sit briefly after getting dressed and spend a minute or two to quietly reflect on how to approach the day.