11/01/2015:




The Order of the Silver Bullet

Team dynamics are important, yet so many managers neither know how to manage, nor know how to lead-and fewer still (despite hundreds of books on each subject) know how to do both.

I have written briefly on the juxtaposition of management and leadership on other sites (Lefcowitz, 2015), but I have never shared a simple team-building trick that I can up with some years ago, inspired by the movie, “Patriot Games”: The Order of the Silver Bullet, referred to in the future simply as the “OSB”.

Most team building exercises are - frankly - disingenuous and contrived, mostly because they are exactly that: exercises, rather than something that is introduced to the team's day-to-day group dynamics.

I am also a firm believer that both leadership and management are multidirectional (Lefcowitz, 1975),, as opposed to the traditional assumption of “top-down.” They can - and should - occur counter to traditional hierarchical structure. Subordinates can influence and lead from the “bottom-up.” Peers can influence and lead along “lateral lines of communication.” Due to this, given the minimum of tacit mutual trust, any accepted member of a group may have the opportunity to manage or lead any other accepted member.

That is why I really like the OSB: anyone can initiate it within their work group.  Judge for yourself:

The OSB is awarded by the team to one of its members for, “actions above-and-beyond the call of professional duty.  As a big fan of Xtream Programming and Agile methodology, I am an enthusiastic promoter of daily team stand-up meetings and scrums. The Monday morning 16th minute is the perfect time to do this team activity, after the events of the previous work week have been reviewed.

Though it is nice if you can get an executive or manager to buy-in with their signature to show their personal endorsement, you don’t really need management buy-in for this activity to work.  The team can just do it.

The rules are simple:

•  Only a team member can nominate an OSB recipient, and then ask the team for unanimous consent to give the award to some deserving fellow member.  The team lead is a team member.  No other supervisors or managers are allowed to participate.

•  The OSB is placed on the most recent recipient's desk or work space, until a new recipient is nominated and elected.  The award moves around, from spot to spot; it is the property of the Team, not any single individual.

•  It is not necessarily to award the OSB every week; it should be something that is special that reflects the consensus of the team.

•  Everyone should be considered; it should not be just an “in crowd” activity.  The actions of team members who are considered by the group to be weak links, or who are not particularly well-liked, should be especially acknowledged when appropriate.  A well-deserved group acknowledgment for a selfless act, or for a job particularly well-done,  may help convert them into a fully functional team member.

• Appropriately frame the OSB, and wait for a deserving recipient to come to the forefront through their actions.

•  Take the lead; wait for the appropriate moment and start your own team tradition!

You can download the Order of the Silver Bullet template from the MCL & Associates Site. This template is approved for public use, on the stipulation that the original copyright notification remains intact, without alteration of any kind.


© Mark Lefcowitz 2014 -- 2015
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