Effective team membership ~ pride

August 14, 2009 lonnie.haire

“pride is a personal commitment. it is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity.” ~william blake

a group of people does not make a team. cooperation does not equal collaboration. doing things does not mean they are the right things. a team that collaborates will ultimately do the right things. a mediocre team will consistently out perform any group of excellent individuals. these statements are not just my personal opinion or bias… these truths can be distilled from agile principles, case studies, or your own personal experiences.

i was fully indoctrinated in this way when i first stepped foot onto parris island, sc, marine corp recruit depot, december 1991. today, thirteen years after my last day of active duty service to my god, country, and corp… i have the pleasure to make the claim that “i am a marine”. i earned it, i believe in it, and i am proud of it. i share these sentiments with many of the software development teams, both agile scrum / extreme programming and traditional phased / waterfall, i had the great pleasure to participated on.

in my experience, being a member of any team requires a sense of pride. pride in oneself, the other members, and in the day to day activities executed in concert with the team. it’s amazing what a single team can accomplish when there is a shared sense of pride in everything done, both together and apart. take a moment to consider this. i’m certain it won’t be hard to identify a time where your own pride contributed to the success of your team. band, sports, choir, projects… it is an infectious motivator, it helps to lift up when there might otherwise be a reason to be down, it causes an entire team to focus on quality execution, and may even be the single difference between a teams success or failure at times. despite or maybe as a consequence of this the team owns the results of their efforts.

let’s determine what it takes to lead a group of people through the process of becoming effective team members with a sense of pride that extends beyond ‘me’ thinking. foundationally this requires a system that fosters ‘we’ thinking. most can agree that usually starts with a single achievable goal, which may require individuals to commit to a portion of what it will take to achieve that goal. notice the nuance of ‘individuals to commit to’ and ‘to commit individuals to’. semantics? it’s the same subtle difference between ‘me’ and ‘we’. each will produce a system with contrary organization to one another. each have impactfully different natural consequences.

team pride is the natural consequence of individual pride. i began with a quote by william blake because it encapsulated the essence of the fundamental way of ‘me’ thinking that produces ‘we’ thinking. “pride is a personal commitment.” don’t wait for leadership to forge the way, become the leader. take pride in the things you do, what others do, and own all of it. during your next team retrospective, observe each area of possible improvement that is raised. add pride to the equation, postulate potential impact(s), and test the assumed result(s) against each observation. could you expect improvements? could things get any worse? doesn’t it warrant an experiment?

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