The Two Best Things You Can Do For Your Team

I have a friend that is a flight-for-life helicopter pilot, a profession that you simply have to admire. When he visited some time ago he was intrigued by my work, both the content of my consulting and the concept of running my own business. I gave my usual long explanation about what I do and what benefits I offer to leaders and organizations. And I gave my even longer explanation about how I do that work, the strategies and approaches I apply, and the work ethic and patience that goes in to being your own boss.

He asked follow-up questions and continued to show genuine curiosity. And given the opportunity to explain what I do to a sympathetic listener, I kept talking. After fifteen minutes, maybe even thirty, I finally wrapped up my expose. He paused for only a quick moment and said quite clearly, “so basically, don’t be a jerk, and don’t be a slouch.” It dawned on me immediately that in his work there isn’t time for long-winded explanations and indecisive loitering over a challenge. You make decisive, well-informed decisions without hesitation and keep moving forward, and you do it in the name of saving lives.

His succinctness resonated with me. I’ve thought about the applicability ever since and have used the two phrases regularly to “check myself” in the midst of stressful projects and client interactions. I ask myself often, 1) “am I working hard enough to meet the objectives with high quality results?” And 2) “am I being compassionate in the process?”

Time and again since my realization of the power in these two baseline attitudes, I have seen teams flounder or excel depending on their answers to these two variables.

Work hard: This doesn’t mean that teammates are burning the candle at both ends, or losing all sense of balance in life. Instead, it means that teammates are participating, pulling their weight, and contributing their skills and creativity wherever or whenever they can. We have all been on teams when a teammate  simply does not do everything they should, and we’re forced to pick up the slack. Don’t be the person slouching.

Be Kind: Teams will have conflict and stressful situations will arise, but how we show up in the tensest moments matters. There is rarely a reason for us to be rude, aggressive, or cutting to a client, team member, or anyone for that matter. If everyone is patient and assumes best intentions, complemented by hard and dedicated wok, our kindness to one another will make that work enjoyable, fulfilling, and successful.

To sum it all up once more: don’t be lazy, don’t be mean. Try that everyday if you’re not already and marvel at how it transforms your work, teams, and life.