Ingredients of Unity
So if unity is not agreement, how do we work towards a common goal? Rowing in opposite directions while sitting in the same boat is not unity. Many times this is exactly what happens. We don't agree on something, we leave the meeting without reaching a decision and go our own way. This will never accomplish unity and will not allow us to reach our potential. So how do we start rowing in the same direction if we not agree?
People drive technology, it's not the other way around. We must value people and their opinions and perspectives even if we don't agree. People and relationships must be more important than the technology and debate. We need to learn to win the relationship not the debate. Does that mean you must concede? No, not at all, the debate is not the enemy, it's how we approach the debate, it's how we communicate our perspective, it's listening and seeking to understand the other perspectives.
Is your motive to prove your point?
To win the debate?
Does your ego get in the way and you want your idea to win at all cost?
Are you close minded?
Or do you seek the best solution?
Do you value the other person?
Are you willing to work to better understand the other person's perspective because you respect them?
Are you willing to compromise for the sake of the team and the relationship?
If the relationship is not important, unity will always be out of reach. Unity is when you approach the issue as us against the problem instead of one vs another.
Trust and Respect
Without these teams struggle to have real debates. Lack of trust and respect can lead to individuals just conceding because they don't feel anyone cares about their perspective. It can also cause us to not truly commit to the decision. We must look for signs of lack of trust and respect within the team and address them if we are to achieve unity. Nothing breads this more than agreeing to something and then doing something else without communication. Poor of communication is a major contributor. Trust and respect can be difficult to attain within a team. To build this we must believe that others have the best intentions. We must be willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness. We need to be upfront and honest. Personal and/or selfish agendas will always show through and breakdown trust and respect. We must be willing to let go of these agendas if we want to achieve unity.
Pride can become an issue and cause us to be illogical and begin to defend our opinion even when it's clearly flawed. We must have the confidence and transparency to admit when we are wrong or our idea is not the best idea. One way to help with this is to go into the discussion with the purpose to identify the facts and data without regard to the outcome. The goal then is to ensure the team is equipped to make the best decision, no matter who or where it comes from. Many times we just need to know that everyone understands the consequences and paint points of a decision and that we are willing to accept them. Everyone needs to be heard so we know that the team understands each of our perspectives to make the most informed decision.
Many teams struggle with unity because they struggle to actually reach a decision. A decision needs to be the goal. Without a decision we lack clarity and direction. This is how we end up rowing in opposite directions, many times not even knowing we are at first. Eventually it becomes apparent and we must revisit everything all over again. Decisions are tough to reach at times because we enter the discussion biased to our opinion. We spend more time trying to prove our point instead of seeking to understand other perspectives. We don't like to be wrong. We also need to be willing to be open about theory vs implementation. There are times when in theory something is correct, but in practice for our current circumstances, it is not.
It all comes back to trust and respect within the team to be willing to commit to the decision even if you don't agree. If the decision is not followed by commitment we may very well end up working against each other and unity will be out of reach. It is certainly not easy to commit to something you don't agree with. I have been on both sides, having to commit and having to work with others on commitment to a decision they don't like. When working with others that don't agree, we must ensure that it's clear that we understand their perspective. We then need to rely on our relationship, trust and respect to build buy-in and commitment. When facing a decision we don't agree with, the key is changing our perspective from commitment to a decision we disagree with, to commitment to the team. Our team that made the best decision with the information available. The team we are in the trenches with day in and day out. The team that we succeed or fail with. We must be able to commit to our team. And as a team we need to get buy-in from the team, cast a vision, take ownership and passionately pursue success as one team.
To ensure we continue in unity, communication and collaboration are essential. Circumstances change, information changes, people change and they all present opportunities to get out of sync. It's easy to jump to conclusions or to make wrong assumptions. These plant seeds of distrust and disrespect and ultimately breakdown relationships if we are not careful. When these situations come up, we need to address them head on as quickly as possible. When changes happen, we need to communicate them clearly and quickly. We must avoid the 'I told you so’ and collaborate to adjust to the changes. We no longer live in the era of individual contributors, the most effective team members are not the ones that just crank out work. The most effective are members of a highly collaborative unified team.