Be A Better Team Player With Career Coach Obi Okere

Be A Better Team Player With Career Coach Obi Okere
May 12, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker
Why does team work have to be so darn exhausting?  Find out how to improve your team collaboration skills in this interview with career coach and team building expert, Obi Okere, who helps break down common team issues and gives advice for becoming a better leader.
Career coach and president of HYPE Success, Obi Okere, sat down with L.J. Acker to break down common team building issues, the differences between men and women and how they can bridge the gap, and how everyone can be a better leader by just honing their listening skills.

1. What is the number one problem individuals have when it comes to teams?

The number one problem is NOT listening. Not listening to each other’s ideas, each other’s contributions, and not recognizing what other people have to provide, as a result of not listening, transfers the thought within the team that others are wrong or stupid.

Become a better listener: Operate from a context that everyone has something to contribute. When people are in a meeting and different ideas are being expressed, it’s important to wait 5 seconds before coming back with your own idea. A lot of times,  while other people are talking, a person is thinking of what they want to say next. Take the time to listen to what they’re really saying and before speaking, process the message and say something based upon what was just contributed to the conversation.

2. How do men and women see teams differently?

Women tend to look outside of the group for help, while men are less likely to look outside of the team to help.

Men show less commitment to the overall team; they take a harder position as to what they think is right while, women are more generous when it comes to their efforts. Women also tend to take a softer position and approach it on a global scale.

How To Bridge The Gap: When men and women are working together to set up a particular objective that everyone is trying to solve, it’s important to make sure everyone understands the objective. Women are more dissatisfied because they permit others to do things their own way; rather than voicing their opinion when they know when things are going wrong.

Say we have a problem, it’s important to begin by observing what are the key elements of the problem and who is it affecting. Once that’s understood, then look at the key objectives necessary to move the problem forward. By everyone collaboratively putting their input towards the objective and setting a measurement of success, everyone is held accountable for their contribution.

Obi breaks down the process in a simple formula:

+ Setting Overall Objective or Goal
+ Set measurement for success
+ List key elements to move objective forward
= team can move forward

3. How can women become better team players?

Women can be better team players by being more assertive and what I mean by more assertive is knowing when to  set boundaries. When she sets an objective and it’s measurement of success, she must be assertive by saying, “We can’t move foward on this particular solution, because it won’t meet a certain level of success on X objective.” It’s important that women clearly voice what will meet the goal and the kinds of solutions that will meet the objective.

4. How can someone become a better leader?

This question goes back to listening and being in tuned to the group. Stephen Covey once said, “First seek to understand than to be understood.” A person must take the time to listen to each perspective and understand other’s individual concerns within the problem, then they can lead the group towards a solution that meets each teammate’s concern and allows them to see the solution within their own perspective.

What if there isn’t time to listen to everybody’s problems or perspectives?

Sometimes, it’s the case that a manager has to listen to just a few opinions. However a good leader has to have a good feel of the group overall concerns. That’s why they’ve been chosen to be the leader; they’ve been hired to best represent the ideas and concerns of the whole. In the moment, the leader will have to go on their gut.

When leaders are in the position to make a decision, they shouldn’t take a hard-nosed position, they should consider being flexible in making tweaks to their plan. And if employees don’t like their manager’s decision, they should go to the leader and express their concerns not from the perspective that the leader is wrong but voice how their decision impacts them.

5. What should people do when they start to have communication problems?

Get clarity on context.

When people are in the position of having communications problems, they need to first look at how they understand what was being said and then they can find out if all the perspectives are aligned. Then, they’re in the position to communicate their needs within the truest context.

Clarify the meaning of what is being said, like, “I need support” like being checked in on every day or some might think to give me space. What are people really saying?

Don’t Gossip

Women should avoid gossiping behind the boss’ back. Directly communicating with a manager depends on the boss and whether or not they’re willing to hear their perspective. If not, solicit the help of others by going around and finding out if other people share the same perspective and if so, then this way, they can request back up on how they feel – it’s not just her opinion, but that of the group – find out information, don’t spread false information.

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Obi Okere is a career and life coach based in New York City, New York. He is President of HYPE Success and helps professionals improve and change their careers based on their individual values and goals for success. Read his Bio here and visit his website HYPE Success for more information about his services. [/box]

1 Comment

  1. very informative post. i have grasped something for me from here.

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