May 20, 2009 Chris Fuller

Leveraging your strength as a team player.

Unleashing the power of the Team is the subtitle of the book. It, basically, says that there is untapped potential in the team – or the synergy of the team. The next position on the team contains the majority of the dogs on the team. Generally, there are 2 Lead Dogs, 2 Swing Dogs, 10 Team Dogs, and 2 Wheel Dogs. So there are 5 times as many dogs in Team as there are Lead Dogs.

In business it’s much the same way. If it were not so, we would not produce as much as we do now. We need people on the shop floor producing the product. We need the staff that makes it possible to operate at our present level – and beyond. Not everyone wants the stress or pressure of running in Lead or has the energy or desire to be a “swing Dog” influencer. Some are, perfectly, happy with running the race from 8 – 5 and clocking out! Leader’s – that’s OK! They are incredibly necessary AND contribute significantly as a group.

If you are a Team player – a Team Dog, how can you leverage the power of the position and create influence with the Musher (Leader)?

Play your position exceptionally well.

The first step in playing your position well is to “Own” the position. By that I mean, Know your duties. Put effort into knowing exactly what is expected of you and exactly HOW to perform the tasks that are put on your plate or “in your bowl” (so to speak). Once the basics of the position are covered – learn as much about the position as possible and look for ways to suggest improvements. Leaders will listen to and respect the input of someone who is really good in their position and knows their “stuff”.

Give your full potential, focus, and energy to the tasks at hand, while you’re at work. Most people do not give their all at work – they waste minutes in the day and eliminating waste could lead to you being fully able to perform all your needed tasks in the 8 hours given. During this time, pull the sled and be the go-to player for your area of responsibility, your tasks, or your expertise.

Run with a great attitude. Sled Dogs LOVE to run – they enjoy the journey and it brings them satisfaction. Dogs with the wrong disposition on the team must be changed out for the sake of the team or the organization. Just keep thinking, “Grumpy dogs get left in the Kennel!”

Provide the right feedback. Again, there may be things that you’ll see from your vantage point that can help the leader and help the team. Just keep a record of areas that you see could be improved and when called upon – you’ll be ready to add that little extra value. This will wet you apart from the other Team Dogs and allow you to increase your influence with your Musher (Leader).

It’s OK that you want your work to be your work and value your life outside of work. That’s part of your make-up and your creation of how you want your life to be. More leaders should accept it. However, while you’re at work – pull with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!

Team Dogs – you’re a valuable part of every organization – run on.

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