Do you really need a team? How to build a great one

Do you really need a team? How to build a great one | practice (split each time) | Build credibility to be seen as a competent leader
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February 6, 2024
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Leading the Way
Do you really need a team? How to build a great one
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Not all projects need teams, but for those who do, Eric Barker points to studies showing that the most effective teams usually comprise five or fewer people (including at least one who's not afraid to rock the boat) with clear roles and leaders who provide safety and purpose. "When you're working with a great team, every day feels like you've hit the jackpot in the lottery of office life," Barker notes.
Full Story: Barking Up The Wrong Tree (2/4) 
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Put it into practice: Research shows that the most effective teams always include "the cranky person lurking in the corner with a raised eyebrow," Barker writes because they will "throw a wrench in the gears of groupthink." Don't confuse these members with a "Devil's advocate," Barker notes, because the dissenter must sincerely care about the team's success instead of objecting just to object.
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SmartBrief on Leadership
Build credibility to be seen as a competent leader
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Leaders must be credible to lead change, achieve their goals and attract top talent, writes consultant and speaker Marlene Chism, who suggests four ways to build it, including regulating emotions and being able to see the bigger picture while spotting distinctions to become a more critical thinker. "The ability to make distinctions helps you coach employees, ask critical questions and clarify outcomes," Chism notes.
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Put it into practice: Leaders can gain clarity about any situation by asking four questions, Chism writes, including what obstacles are present, what's missing and what outcome is desired. "If you can answer these questions, you can jump off the hamster wheel of indecision and get closer to uncovering the root cause."
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Smarter Communication
Jargon such as "circling back" or "running it up the flagpole" can alienate some team members, and it's often used as a form of "human peacocking" to telegraph status or to paper over topics that may be uncomfortable to talk openly about, say experts. When insecurity permeates the workplace, "you're going to get funny language to try to cover it up, to make it seem as though it's not as bad as you think. But it is," says Cary Cooper, a professor at UK-based Alliance Manchester Business School.
Full Story: BBC (2/5) 
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Put it into practice: Professionals may use jargon because they feel that their performance is being judged not just by colleagues but in email or on social media, experts say. "The more public we are, the more we have to perform," says Zachariah Brown, an assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
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In Their Own Words
Creating a great workplace culture requires a collaborative effort all around, and that starts with hiring the "most talented individuals out there and not be intimidated by their strengths and brilliance," says Cindy Scharringhausen, senior vice president of human resources at Camden Property Trust. "Hiring the best and the brightest, actively listening to them, and offering them growth opportunities helps cultivate an environment where they feel empowered to do their best," Scharringhausen says.
Full Story: Great Place to Work (2/5) 
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Daily Diversion
Music moves our bodies depending on melodic mood
(Pixabay)
Happy music such as Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" triggers physical sensations in arms and legs, while the chest responds to a sad song such as Adele's "Someone Like You," according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which sorted 36 East Asian and 36 Western songs into six categories: tender, scary, sad, happy, danceable/groovy and aggressive. Reactions largely transcend participants' cultural differences, suggesting a biological instinct that evolved to strengthen community and social ties, the researchers say.
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SmartBreak: Question of the Day
Which writer has written under the pseudonyms Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly?
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About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Chellew
After watching me attempt a dance move, a friend of mine tagged me with a new nickname: "Can't-dance." It's true; people tend to wonder if I'm okay whenever I attempt to groove. However, there are some songs that my body seems to move to on its own, particularly "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by The Police.

That's why the study of how music affects our bodies fascinates me. In my head, I know that I am a terrible dancer, but some music makes my body want to move anyway -- to dance like no one is watching, even though they clearly are!

What songs make you dance, even if it's against your better judgment? Tell me!

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And don't forget to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it -- and then dismantle it.
Ibram X. Kendi,
writer, historian, educator, anti-racist activist
February is Black History Month
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