What’s Good for the Individual is Good for the Team

There is no end to the amount of advice, tips and resources available to help Australians succeed in whatever areas we hope to improve upon

The same rules for success apply to coworkers, families, nations and yourself

There is no end to the amount of advice, tips and resources available to help Australians succeed in whatever areas we hope to improve upon, be it in the workplace, at home, or just overall. One important factor to remember is that the skills we acquire in one aspect in life can be utilized in most other areas, and, in fact, the skills that are taught to global leaders and organizations can apply to a stay-at-home mom and small groups (and vice versa). That’s because we all operate under the same circumstances, stresses, obstacles, and purposes. The Prime Minster of Australia has goals, challenges, deadlines, adversaries, and a support system. So too does the manager of a local shop in New Zealand, the parents of a child, and the college graduate looking for work. Advice and tips that are tailored toward, say, a global business leader, can be redefined and altered to be of use to just about anyone else. Take, for example, the 12 lessons of leadership style from Jack Welch.

Being a strong leader in life – at all times

Jack Welch is a proven leader, who took over GE in 1981 and grew it into an international force. His 12 lessons on leadership are studied and adapted by corporate leaders the world over, but they can be of use to anyone looking to become a resilient leader who can master change. Included in Welch’s 12 lessons are:

  1. Lead, Not Manage
  2. Get Less Formal
  3. Don’t Tolerate Bureaucracy
  4. Face Reality, Stop Assuming
  5. Simplify Things
  6. Look at Change as an Opportunity – not a Threat
  7. Lead by Energizing Others, not by Managing by Authority
  8. Defy, not Respect Tradition
  9. Don’t Make Hierarchy Rule, but Intellect
  10. Pounce Everyday, Don’t Move Cautiously
  11. Put Values First, Not Numbers
  12. Manage Less

Glancing over this list, you may fall into one of several categories. You may think all of these apply to you, you may think some may, or you may assume none do, for your specific situation. The reality is, you can use each of Welch’s lessons for strong leadership to help you define yourself and your situation, whether you’re looking to manage a group of 10 workers, looking to manage your family, or if you’re responsible for managing a country or global corporation. And these rules apply and are effective for individuals as well as groups throughout New Zealand and Australia. For example, let’s take #2: Get Less Formal. Welch is famous for not wearing ties to work, and prefers for people to call him “Jack,” not “Mr. Welch.” The idea was to relax the environment in order to provide people room to breathe and become creative (this, of course, is an approach actively practiced in New Zealand and Australia). While students in a classroom benefit from certain rules, studies show that they are more creative – and more apt to push the boundaries of their imagination and abilities – if their classroom environment is less formal. The same can be said for boardrooms, households, and offices. While Welch isn’t suggesting a world without rules, he is saying that when you give your workers (staff, students, colleagues) some room to breathe, they’ll surprise you with a breath of fresh air. #4: Face Reality, Stop Assuming, is an important rule that anyone – group or individual – can benefit from. The sports team in the middle of a slump can assume it’s their coach’s fault, but are they actually delving into fact? What evidence supports this? When we make assumptions, we start pointing fingers and getting sidetracked. In other words, we only exasperate problems, rather than combat them. The supervisor who blames last quarter’s poor sales numbers on his sales staff might be assuming they’re to blame. They’re in charge of sales, who else can it be? But he likely came to this conclusion with little processed thinking and a great deal of assumptions. By jumping on assumptions we may not truly solve the problem after all. #11: Put Values First, Not Numbers: This is a surprising comment by a CEO who, of course, cares about the numbers. But what Welch is saying here is that you shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. Your values, if prepared properly, will create the numbers (or results) you’re after. Parents might not understand how this applies to them, but it does. Numbers, in this case, are results. Perhaps you’re hoping your child will improve his behavior at school. By focusing on this result, rather than the core values of your family, you may end up disappointed. As a family unit, your values may be to respect others, be considerate and try your hardest. By focusing on these values, and exemplifying them throughout the course of the day, you’re helping to mold your child to better reflect these values. In turn, your child’s behavior at school is bound to improve. The same can be said for any business. Work groups that focus on the numbers, solely, lose motivation, gain added workplace stress, and suffer from bouts of stifling productivity and success. That’s because the numbers are just a fleeting, arbitrary marker. By focusing on the values of your group, and office, you’re helping your employees to see the bigger picture. You’re helping them to understand that the work they do throughout the day – from pouring their coffee to making those calls – add not just to the numbers at the end of a quarter, but to the overall welfare of the group at large.

Groups are just individuals in one place

People who manage a group often fail to remember that the group is just compiled of individuals. We focus so much attention on trying to adapt our approach and skills toward the group mentality (which has its benefits, of course), but sacrifice the core values of the individual. In the end, it’s best for any leader to remember that we can approach groups and individuals in similar ways. By not trying to segment these two entities – group and individual – we can become more effective leaders who help nurture an environment that breeds camaraderie and innovation. Image furnished by Sean MacEntee