Independence of thought, an essential virtue for a team.
More so, if we aim to build great teams. A team can only perform well if it has been able to view and review an option, a solution from all perspectives. That is why, it is extremely important to have people with diverse opinions on the team. I have noticed, that team leaders who nurture their teams to think independently, come up with very creative and out of the box solutions for some very run of mill or mundane situations.
Another very interesting outcome of free-thinking teams is that because the idea was theirs, they are very enthusiastic to see it succeed and are fully engaged in ensuring its success. For the leader, it is a win all the way because, on one hand he has a unique solution and on the other, a totally engaged and committed team which resonates with equal passion.
Now this brings us to the question, is an independent thinker a team player? Many may disagree, but here I would like to share the views of Professor Richard Hackman from Harvard, who was an eminent thinker on teamwork. He often said, that every team needs someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning. (They) are the ones who stand back and say, ‘Wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backward or turned it inside out?’
Great leaders always know how to leverage the strength of a contrary opinion and harness it to spark innovation and ingenuity in their teams.
In fact, encouraging independent thinkers helps develop the unique capabilities of a person, makes them more responsible, ready to take challenges and persistent in their efforts. Though it also means that it is some extra work for the leaders to ensure their teams are motivated and aware of the larger purpose of doing things but, the outcome far outweighs the effort.
Well, August being the month of Independence for us Indians, often sparks such thoughts in me. Celebrating the day is important but we must also be courageous enough to celebrate the spirit. Encourage everyone to think freely, have a difference of opinion, voice a contrary thought. Do it at home, with your families, with your children and watch them flower into free thinking intelligent human beings. This Independence month let us celebrate the independence of thought and observe the high performing teams metamorphose into greater ones.