Collaboration over compromise for effective team building.

In today’s use of slang and interchangeability of common words we often lose the meaning and point in everyday conversations. How often to do hear a version of, “You need to compromise”, when trying to get your point across, or trying to get someone to give in and change their point of view? Similarly, how often do you hear someone saying they are collaborating with their team mates, only to find out later that one person is driving a project to fit the their image of an end product? In general, we have lost the understanding of the words compromise and collaboration and the impacts they have on positive team development.

When two or more people meet and have valid,  and often opposing,  ideas on a particular subject they will say the other person needs to “compromise”, meaning  I am right and you need to give into my point of view. In the world of compromise, someone wins and someone loses: win-lose dynamics.  One person must give up something they value and invariably walks away hurt. From the individual perspective, the person will rarely forget that they caved on an idea they believed in. From the group perspective, compromise builds a pecking order. Who lost the most? Who won the most? The person who wins overall must still incorporate a few ideas from the other group members into the final creation of an end product; even their overall vision is compromised. From an end product perspective, it usually turns out badly. In most cases, no one is happy with the overall product and resentment is created. Eventually, the person who lost today will have their revenge leaving a tit-for-tat wake where victories and losses are more important than team success. The team dynamic is fractured and trust destroyed. Effective teams know there is a better way: collaboration.

There is an art to collaboration. From the outset, it is accepted that everyone in the group has value. Their ideas and views are valid from the individual perspective. So what do you do? You use the energy as a catalyst for something better than you could as compromisers. First, create a shared vision of what the team is trying to accomplish, what the end product looks like. The team now has a focal point for with to engage. From the overall vision, you can start to build the framework through shared ideas. As the group moves forward, an overall mental consensus develops through the collaboration. With a shared vision one person cannot dominate the group.  You derail power grabber’s right from the start. People continue to develop ideas which get vetted through the collaborative process and ideas that once would demand “compromise” are dropped because they do not match the shared mental model. In the end, using collaboration in groups leads to win-win group dynamics.

It is worth the time and effort to access how your team functions. Demanding someone compromise and bend to another person’s point of view is a recipe for failure. Someone wins, and someone loses. Hard feelings are harbored and revenge will eventually come. The art of collaboration is the bond that builds successful teams, through shared mental images of success.  For a team to be effective, efficient and successful in this fast paced business environment it is imperative that an atmosphere of “collaboration”, over “compromise” permeates your organizations culture.

Sage advice from a true American success story.

American Dream

by

Mike Phibbs

 

“In America, you can have anything you want if you are intelligent and have courage.”  ~ Reza

 

I want to be a millionaire and so do many of you. Three sage questions arise when we admit that we want to be millionaires. First, how do we get the money? Second, what will we have to give up getting the money? Third, will money truly make us successful and happy?

I met Reza many years ago while visiting Miami with my wife. We met through a chance encounter and have been friends ever since. He is the model of the self-made American success story. As a group, driving through Miami, Reza’s phone wrong, it was a business deal in the final stages of negotiations. Reza told the guy on the other end of the line that 20 was the final offer. He continued by telling the other party if he kept trying to push the number lower then Reza was going to start climbing again. I thought they were talking about thousands of dollars. I was wrong, very wrong. I was shocked when Reza told the caller that he was going to ask my opinion. Not knowing the game I aloud, “make it 25 or nothing.” I could hear the guy on the other end choke a little and then agree to the 20. When I learned it was millions and not thousands of dollars I instantly knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

The story of the deal was interesting, but the man behind the deal is far more interesting than can be posted in a blog. We have all met those people, larger than life and with the personality to bring any room to life. Reza came to America in 1979, a week before the Iranian hostage situation began. Reza was born in Iran and left to come to American and make a better life. He brought just enough money to get to New York and buy a bus ticket to somewhere else. He could only say “Florida” in English, so he bought a ticket to Florida. Before he left the station the American Embassy fell. People were outraged and someone had to pay for the American humiliation. It was Reza. He was constantly being assaulted by people on his trip to Miami. Only one person helped him out, the bus driver. The driver tried to protect him and ensure he got to his destination alive.  Even the police turned a blind eye to the assaults. People seem to find this behavior acceptable when their country has been humiliated, the President is ineffective, and the citizens are scared. We are shocked when we see such behavior in other countries and ignore it in our own.

Reza has a charming personality, but he has something else:  A drive to succeed. He worked odd jobs and ended up working at a gas station. Unknowingly, fortune was about to show its face. One day a friend who owned a limousine business mentioned to Reza that he had too many jobs that night and not enough chauffer’s. Reza took the chance and asked if he could take one of the shifts. History is made during these types of serendipitous encounters and this was the case. Thus the rise of Reza began. He continued to work the gas station during the day and drove at night. He eventually bought his own limousine company and made customer loyalty and service the hallmarks of the company’s success.  He could have sat back running a lucrative business and been regarded as successful. But no, he continued to branch out into different areas and continued to make the South Florida financial empire he has today.

One night, while eating dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water with the Miami skyline in the background, Reza put his fork down and pointed out into the bay. He looked back and said, “Look at the billions of dollars out there. Why don’t you have any of it?” I replied that I didn’t have anyone rich enough to knock off. He then spoke the sage words that I use in seminars today, “In America anyone can be as successful as they want if they are intelligent and have courage.” He is completely right. Many people don’t have the intellectual acumen to develop a product idea which people will want to spend money on. More likely, in America has lost the will or courage that brought our forefathers here in boats that would be illegal by today’s Coast Guard standards. We have lost the desire to do what it takes to make a better life. Most Americans are not willing to risk what they have to fulfill the possibilities that America presents.

Does this mean you have to be a millionaire to be successful? If you want to be on the Discovery, TLC or Bravo Channels then yes, yes you do. But in the world of reality, success is something that is enjoyable, fulfilling and builds self-worth. For Reza the money is a by-product of enjoying the running of successful companies. He enjoys providing services and money is just a score card to gauge his own success. The companies he owns are centered on making both his clients and employees equally happy. He knows when you are happy at what you do then it is not a job or a profession, it is something deeper with more meaning.

If you are miserable at your job and have a desire to do something else then ask yourself three questions:

  • Am I an intelligent person who can research my own idea?
  • Do I have the courage to take the actions necessary to fulfill my life’s calling?
  • How happy will I be when I am in charge of my own destiny?

Only you can answer these questions. The answers are scary for most people. But when in doubt remember Reza. He came to a strange land with nothing, not even knowing the language. He became a proud American citizen and through intelligence and courage he became an American success. Put down the fork and look out the window. What is stopping you from living the American dream? Reza lives it and so can you.

Success is a matter of individual perspective

When you ask the question, “How do you define someone as being successful”, you will get mixed responses. Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We are taught as we age our definition of success changes. Our definition of success may evolve, but our fundamental understanding of success stays relatively fixed. One may think an artist who sells his painted canvas for significant sums of money successful only to later find the artist felt they failed because they didn’t exactly capture what they had envisioned in their minds eye. A street vendor who can barely cover his expenses may feel successful because he had the opportunity to talk to new and interesting people every day. In that sense the vendor uses his job as a vehicle to do what he really enjoys, meeting new people. A handicapped person who simply wants to work and earn a living on their own may find they are incredibly successful for maintaining a minimum wage job. Likewise, many people falsely believe success is in the cars they drive and homes they live in. They strive for years to gain those tangible items, only to find they feel hollow and empty inside. Success is therefore an enigma because it can’t be quantified, but fixed in the minds of the people enjoying it. I have two examples of real life people to further examine the idea of divergent perspectives of success.

Liam and John are both executives in a large financial firm. Both men have worked at the firm for 17 years and on the surface their lives are very similar. They have expensive cars and live in gated communities with their families. To many, their lives are successful. But now let’s look at their perspectives on success which set s them apart.

Liam enjoys the journey of life and work. Rewards are a result of the journey and set him up to continue on the pathway to success. He enjoys challenging projects that require bringing in a diverse set of experts to be assembled. He has the ability to create synergy and congeal the individuals into a unified team under a common vision and goals. He has the inquisitive motivations to watch the pieces come together that are better than each one person could do alone. He marvels at the impact that each project has on developing community. For Liam success is the process of taking an idea, developing it, and watching it come to life. Liam constantly pushed his vision forward as to require continued progress. Rewards are a matter of consequence of the project. Liam would be content in doing anything where he can see and participate in the steps necessary to envision a project starting from scratch all the way to the end product be it taking scraps of wood to build a workbench to creating the financing project for a multimillion dollars high-rise.

John, on the other hand, looks to rewards for his project accomplishments as a motivator. The road and journey are less important than getting to the final destination. When obstacles in the road occur, John looks at them as an impediment slowing him down instead of an opportunity to challenge him to come up with a solution. When John creates a team, he is singularly focused on meeting benchmarks and completion times. Team cohesion is a result of meeting the challenges of a timeline rather than a consequence of selective recruitment and vision building. John keeps score by the rewards that are handed down by projects being flawlessly completed. He will not be satisfied unless the rewards are worth the effort.

For most people, like John and Liam, success is a matter of perspective. Do we enjoy the process of the results? What motivates us to be successful? Please feel free to comment on your ideas of success.