I have worked with a variety of successful teams, but my current experience with two wise and wonderful women, Doris Reeves-Lipscomb and Lisa Levinson, has shown me the value of teamwork more than any other group. What I believed could be a one-time event for the three of us turned into a full-time business commitment.
We began to develop the Women’s LearningStudio, an online community of women and a few brave men who join together to support one another as we Reset, Retool, Recharge and Rebrand. Focusing on leadership development and learning to use online tools, we offer coaching, online learning and organizational support.
Our team is geographically separated and travels widely, so as we keep other business interests going, we have collaborated in person only four times in the 18 months since we came together. The rest of our interaction has been via email or video conferences. In spite of all our travel and upheaval, we meet at least once a week to accomplish our goals. Because I see our team as a high-performing unit, last September I wrote in my blog about The Magic and Reality of Collaboration. In it, I described why collaboration in general is productive and more successful than solitary work and suggested that successful teams:
- Hold similar values
- Share common goals
- Build and nurture trust
- Leave ego aside
- Listen for meaning and understanding
- Change course when necessary
- Work with agendas and work guidelines
- Value and encourage creativity
Our team possesses all of those criteria. However, I will add my thoughts about why working with these two colleagues, now fast friends, has been both enjoyable and constructive—why we have become a high-performing team.
- We focus on the bigger picture: Our focus is the greater good. We encounter many differences of opinion, but each time, we are able to reach a solution we agree is the best for the organization and for the women we want to serve.
- Our goals are aligned: We experience times when we are unsure of our direction, but our goal remains the same. We want to help women make their lives more successful and enjoyable.
- We are resilient: After our website beta test, we recognized that our site required extensive revision. Comments were positive, but we believed visitors to the site may be unsure of our purpose and our offerings. We relaxed for a few days, took a deep breath and started again on a project we had nursed for over a year.
- We laugh together: Our laughter was not immediate. In the beginning, our serious sides were more obvious. However, as we got to know one another, laughter has become an important part of our meetings. Lisa likes to wear a tiara on occasion. Doris regales us with stories about her rescue greyhounds. I share episodes about family life as our house undergoes massive renovation.
- We accommodate: When one of us needs to make changes in schedules or work assignments, we quickly agree.
- We hold each other to a higher standard- We accommodate, but we also question assumptions and truthfully state our opinions as we attempt to arrive at the best solutions to problems and questions we discuss.
- We share and celebrate our knowledge, insights and expertise. Each of us enjoys a variety of career and personal experiences, and each of us has been active and reflective. We speak from very different perspectives. However, we recognize and frequently honor the fact that the three of us are much more formidable as a team than as individuals.
- We support one another personally and professionally. We recognize that our relationships are more important than our personal ideas or suggestions.
I am honored to work with these two women. I am constantly reminded of their extraordinary skills. Whatever the outcome of our venture, I know that I have learned from them and they have enriched my life. I value their commitment, their knowledge, and their friendships. With this and any other successful team, it is the last point that matters. A team only works when relationships exist.