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Me, Myself, My Team

How to Become an Effective Team Player Using NLP McLeod
In today’s workplace, the ability to form and maintain cohesive teams is an essential leadership skill. Valued employees are those considered good “team players.” The corporate world places increased reliance on team tasks because corporate projects and requirements are so complex that success depends on pulling together a mix of diverse talents and expertise. In that mix are people with a variety of personalities who come from various cultures. Moreover, many of today’s teams do not meet face-to-face, nor do their members work side-by-side. Instead we have “virtual” teams that must effectively communicate via email, bulletin boards, conference calls, and video-streaming. Therein lie the challenges. Me, Myself, My Team, by Angus McLeod, could not be more timely.

The book itself is the product of teamwork. In writing it, the author drew upon the contributions of experts in many fields of business and publishing. This is a book for managers, leaders, coaches, trainers, and anyone who wants to be a more effective team player, or who wants to help a team excel. Me, Myself, My Team promotes two values essential to effective teams: flexible thinking and openness to challenge and new ideas.

The book is a workbook and a reference combining current ideas and practices in coaching, learning science, and NLP. It is based on the premise that teams are made of individuals with differences and similarities. Moreover, within each individual there resides an “internal team” of traits, beliefs and tendencies that cooperate, compete, and conflict with one another. McLeod’s is an inside-out approach to teams, aiming to “address the internal team and extend that thinking to the real (External) Team.” He provides tools for readers to work through their own solutions, rather than borrow standardized practices from management theory. He believes that the key to changing team culture lies in the individual, and that positive outcomes result from individuals who best understand the dynamics of similarity/difference.

Content

Me, Myself, My Team begins with understanding the self, based on Gregory Bateson’s six levels of experiencing and thinking: Environment, Behaviors, Capabilities/Skills, Beliefs/Values, Identity, and Purpose/Vision. Through a series of checklists you can describe and evaluate yourself and your work at each level and establish a prioritized list of actions for improvement. Seeing these actions on your time-line will permit you to envision them in the here-and-now and enhance your motivation.

You can then compare your personal values and characteristics with those of your Team. Awareness of such similarities and differences will guide you in deciding where you could change your own actions to fit in more comfortably with the team or make a more positive impact on Team effectiveness.

McLeod offers several empowering beliefs for Teams and for individuals as members of a Team. He encourages readers to adopt the skill of reframing to challenge their meanings and interpretations of events and the behavior of others. This skill requires asking questions such as “What else could be going on here?” and “What other possible interpretation could I make?” Sometimes it requires looking for the positive intention or the positive learning.

Want to influence your Team? Powerful influencing starts with the inner team. To be a leader, understand the needs of your followers. When you make a decision to take action, but you don’t follow through, consider your internal needs, fears, and values. Why don’t you follow your own leadership? Ask yourself “What stops me?” and respond to the need. Then increase your motivation to move forward by asking yourself, “What will that do for me?” Satisfy the needs of the follower and communicate the vision of the leader.

McLeod gives advice on resolving internal conflict as well as Team conflict. Internal conflict arises from negative internal dialog that undermines self-confidence and prevents people from listening to one another. One solution is to take an observer position to the external events, reframe the meanings, and give yourself advice. Another possibility is to fully appreciate the needs that drive each of the conflicting inner voices and find a win-win way to honor all sets of needs.

For External Team conflicts, the author advocates the 51% Rule, which states “In any given interaction I am 51% responsible for the result of that interaction.” In conflict resolution the first step is to avoid judgement and accusation, and acknowledge where the other person is coming from. Be persistent, like a broken record, in stating that you want to limit the discussion to the issue at hand and you are interested only in finding a solution. Arriving at a win-win solution may be easier when you mentally shift your perceptions to the other’s point of view, and an observer’s point of view, to get a different perspective or interpretation of the problem at hand.

By understanding differences and similarities in “Thinking Preferences” (i.e., Meta-programs) and Communication Styles, a team player can accommodate and adapt his communication get his message across to others more effectively. The distinctions in “Thinking Preferences” include:

Information Processing: Visual vs Auditory vs Kinesthetic Communication: Linguistic (written) vs Interpersonal (spoken) Doing: Creative/Options vs Systematic/Procedural Motivation: Away From/Towards Understanding Information: Big Picture vs Detailed Picture Time Focus: Past vs In-time vs Future Task Orientation: Dynamic vs One-thing-at-a-time Convincer Preference: A number of times Evaluative Preference: Match vs Mismatch (Sameness vs Difference) Point of Reference: Internal vs External

Some communication styles are not conducive to team harmony and need to be handled carefully. Examples of disruptive styles are: Owning the credit, Contrary (taking the opposing view), Judgmental, Arrogant, Acquiescent, Challenging, Shy, and Assertive. McLeod points out that matching thinking styles is usually safe, but matching these kinds of communication styles can be hazardous.

Do you know what motivates you? There is a chapter to will help you identify your motivational factors and needs. Start with this empowering belief: I am personally responsible for my motivation and it is my responsibility to maintain it. In fact, much of this book is about taking responsibility for your personal success and for the success of your team. Here’s how McLeod puts it:

Achievement derives from personal control. And personal control derives from responsibility. Without the ownership of problems and challenges that come from taking on responsibility, there is little chance of success. Responsibility may sound boring, but it is an essential key to performance psychology and to the development of individuals and Teams. (p. 91)

To believe in Fate is to trust the future to chance or luck. To seize Destiny is to perceive choices, exercise judgement, establish plans, make commitments and take action. McLeod reminds us that “Responsibility cannot be given; it can only be taken.” By asking questions, leaders and followers can create an environment where responsibility, commitment, and success occur. The questions involve finding out what people need to do the job, and what doing the job will do for them. It is finding out what supports, motivates, and satisfies people.

One of the highlights of Me, Myself, My Team is Chapter 11, in which you can formulate a Personal Success Strategy for any goal you choose. Then you can carry this same strategy into the larger context of the Team, setting team goals, structuring tasks for success, adjusting milestones over time, and establishing rewards.

McLeod believes Teams can foster a Coaching Culture in which all team members are coaches and choachees to one another and can alternate those roles instantly and seamlessly. He advocates a team mindset that creates such a culture. For the coachee, the mindset includes ideas such as:

I value challenges. I value different perceptions. I believe that the Team and the individuals are phenomenally successful when embracing the Coaching Culture. I believe that feedback from a coach is valuable because it invariably contains learning.

For the coach, the mindset advances ideas such as:

I can offer choices, not solutions and not instructions. I can offer the coachee my best attention at all times. I can remain as flexible in my thinking and actions as possible.

McLeod concludes his book with the statement that

…organizations are only as good as the individual qualities of their people and their ability to harness these into clear objectives….The best Teams are growing and evolving to move with changes outside and inside. And the keys to that ability to change are open-mindedness and flexibility. With these two characteristics developed in every individual, anything becomes possible. (p. 115)

The Author

Angus McLeod, Ph.D. has been involved in coaching for over a decade. His company, established in 1995, is Into Changes (Unlimited) in Warfield, Berkshire, U.K. He is a Business Practitioner in NLP and member of the U.K ANLP.

Summary

McLeod assiduously avoids the use of NLP jargon, since his book is meant for readers who are not necessarily trained in NLP. In fact, the author makes no reference to NLP whatsoever, throughout the book, except for a vague definition in the glossary. Some readers may be left wondering exactly what NLP is all about and how it fits in. Nevertheless, NLP practitioners will easily recognize familiar descriptions and strategies for rapport-building, parts integration, perceptual shifts, meta-programs, well-formed outcomes, chunking-up, and chunking-down.

The main idea of Me, Myself, My Team is that to make a difference in your team, you must first make a difference in yourself. Put your own house in order and then set about interacting with others from a standpoint of personal congruence. The underlying message throughout the book is: Take responsibility. The text is peppered with several empowering beliefs that support such responsibility.

Empowering Beliefs for Individuals include:

I cannot change what other people do, but I can change what I do. If I understand other people’s thinking styles and preferences, I can communicate with greater impact. I am responsible for getting my message across; it is not the receiver’s responsibility. To ask for help is strength in character. To follow or not follow is in my field of choice and control

Empowering Beliefs for Teams include:

Team performance is much greater than the sum of the individual performances. The contribution of following is at least equal to that of leading or facilitating. Everyone in the Team is better at something than all the others.

Today’s top performers know how to function well within teams. Today’s top corporations promote profitable teaming strategies within their staff. Teaming arrangements now occur even between corporations, large and small. Teambuilding and mentoring are among the most sought-after leadership skills of supervisors and managers. Admirably, McLeod never thinks of the Team as an entity separate from the individuals who populate the Team. Teams flourish best when individuals are heard, have their needs satisfied, understand their roles, follow by choice, and feel motivated toward the outcome and rewarded by participation.