It was a hot July day at the beach. Families and friends were enjoying the evening sun, and many were splashing in the tepid waters off Panama City Beach.
Someone noticed people in the water, screaming for help. It was quickly apparent that these individuals were caught in a riptide.
Someone else yelled, “Form a human chain!” And almost immediately, the crowd onshore sprang into action, creating a human chain. In all, more than 80 people linked arms to reach the endangered swimmers and carry them back to shore, one by one.
Those 80-plus people saved 10 lives that day.
Here’s the most amazing thing: Prior to that moment in time, most of them did not even know each other!
Yet, on seeing a need, they sprang into action and operated as one incredible team. There were no debates as to who would be in charge or what the order of the lineup should be. Everyone quickly and instinctively found their place and saved the day. There were focused on one seemingly insurmountable goal, and, working together, they reached that goal.
Maybe your normal day at the office isn’t nearly as dramatic as this day at the beach; but don’t you, as a leader, wish you had the kind of team who would see a need – a vision – and instinctively jump in and work as a team to make it happen? Don’t you wish you had a team that would pull together like this?
Why doesn’t it happen?
There may be several reasons your team isn’t working together effectively.
They can’t see the vision or the challenges.
The fact is, there were 10 people in the riptide. It occurred in such a way that only those closest to the first individuals realized what was happening…and in an effort to save those caught in the tide, other family members, one by one, became caught in the tide as well. For a time, no one outside that tight circle knew what was happening.
Does this sound a little familiar?
As leaders, we tend to meet with and confer with our inner circle of other leaders. But we often fail to convey the vision of what we want and need to do beyond that inner circle. We also don’t share the challenges we are facing with those who may be able to offer the outside-the-box solutions we need.
The result of this failure to convey the vision or challenge? We get caught in the tide.
Great companies have gone down because leaders failed to convey the vision and share the challenges with those who could have performed a rescue operation.
They have been conditioned not to think or act.
There is a condition called “corporate think,” where leaders make the decisions, and employees get a clear message that they are there simply to do as they are told. Sadly, this approach has created employees who often ignore their strengths and instincts because they have been conditioned to do so.
No one on the beach that day had to wait for a boss to decide for them. Each of them as an individual did what they knew needed to be done. And here’s the key – they KNEW what needed to be done.
Chances are, you have a great team. You hire those who are the best at what they do. But are you letting them lead in those areas of strengths, or are you conditioning them not to think or act.
The most successful companies are those where leaders don’t create followers, but where leaders create other leaders.
By close estimation, there were over 80 leaders on the beach that day, and the results were phenomenal.
The vision isn’t compelling or urgent enough.
The team on the beach sprang into action because the need was massively evident (people were drowning), the vision was focused (“Form a human chain!”), and they knew time was of the essence.
These are three critical elements to teamwork and reaching goals.
- Purpose – Meeting a massive and meaningful need.
- Clarity – Clear vision, and intense focus on one goal.
- Timeline – Having a challenging and defined deadline.
If you really want to see your team perform at its best, share your vision and challenges with them. Empower them to make decisions and act from their strengths zone. And create goals that are not warmed up leftovers from last year’s annual plan. Create goals that are big and purposeful, laser-focused, and that have defined deadlines.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.