I’d like to introduce you to our first guest blogger, Nicola Naddi, our Director of European Operations.
Nicola has fifteen years of international experience in the fields of leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution, coaching and organizational development both within multinational companies and international organizations.
A Strategy for Self-management: Playing to Your Strengths
by Nicola Naddi
Sports celebrities like David Beckham (soccer), Joe Montana (football) and Michael Jordan (Basketball), all have one thing in common: they are professional team players known for their strengths.
These athletes have become famous for their strengths by adopting one simple strategy: Play to Your Strengths.
Each champion also has weaknesses. Take Beckham, for example: he is excellent at taking free kicks but he is pretty miserable as a goal keeper. If you were his coach, would you train and coach him as a goal keeper because he has a lot to improve in the goal area or would you ask Beckham to stay an extra half hour at the end of his workout session to fine tune his free kicks? Professional coaches in the sports world know that they need to train and use their players in a team role where they can naturally make a real difference, and play to their strongest abilities.
Belbin’s model suggests that we are who we are. It is non-judgmental and doesn’t ask us to change but simply to use what we do best. We all have some preferred roles that we like to play in a team: we should play those roles that come to us naturally as they are roles that we will succeed in playing.
Out of our nine team roles, most people have three preferred roles, three manageable roles, and three least preferred roles. By occasionally flexing into our manageable roles (which means that we can play them when there is a situation that requires it, without spending the majority of our time in these roles), we can help the team. What we don’t want to do is to play those three least preferred roles, or invest the time or energy to improve them. Some other team members will have these roles as preferred roles, so it is better to leave these roles to those for whom it comes naturally. We will be much more efficient by focusing on our own preferred roles.
As an example, imagine that Plant (PL) is among your three preferred roles, (the clever, creative, out-of-the box thinker, who is very good at generating ideas and solving difficult problems), and one of your least preferred roles is the Monitor Evaluator (ME), (the sober, strategic and discerning team member who sees all options and judges accurately). In this case, don’t play the ME role, but instead play the PL role and invest your resources to maximize your potential. You shouldn’t play the ME role, simply because you are not naturally good at it, and you will not play it in an effective way (it would be like David Beckham wanting to play the goal keeper!).
The need here is to focus on the preferred team roles and play these to competitive advantage. However, natural team roles need to be developed further in order to become real strengths: even natural styles involve an element of learning. A polished performance is usually the end result of a learning process, where the natural way is encouraged (for sure, David Beckham first displayed a certain aptitude for shooting free kicks but he became excellent through painstaking learning and practicing efforts).
It doesn’t matter which Belbin team roles are your preferred roles, and which are your least preferred, but what does matter is acknowledging your strengths and playing to them. As we like to say: “It’s not the cards you’re dealt that that make the difference, but how you play them.”
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