Working with teams

The best of ideas come from teams. Cross functional teamwork is given if you are in the field of communications, corporate affairs, reputation management, and/or public relations.

Whether it is understanding business priorities or shaping a whole new narrative, communicators need to work collaboratively to co-create innovative ideas and thoughts.

Working with teams (whether they are from your function or includes people from other functions) can be quite exhilarating and at the same time, stressful.

Team dynamics can easily make or break things.

How do we then work together?

Teamwork Lessons from Mythology

Let us dip into Hindu mythology and see if any analogies can be drawn for teamwork.

For the sake of familiarity and simplicity, I talk about Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh who personify the creator, the preserver and the destroyer respectively. Together, as a team (or trinity), they complement each other to ensure the very existence of the universe.

  • Brahma/The Creator

When people come together for a particular common purpose, there will always be a divergence of thought. In fact, that is the very beauty of teamwork. Every member will have a different thought/view!

There will be someone who will assume the role of the leader or may be delegated as one – this one is the creator (Brahma). S/he has the role of ensuring the team achieves its purpose and delivers on time. The persona of the creator or orchestrator here is very critical. S/he has to be savvy enough to know what is critical and let go of the superfluous that often makes its presence felt in a team. At the same time, the creator also needs to be aware that it is the team that wins or loses as a whole. As an individual in her/his own right, the creator cannot stand apart from the team. Hence, the creator has to be someone who understands what true leadership is all about – it is about leading teams!

  • Vishnu/The Protector

If there is one thing that is common in any team, it is the upmanship of egos! The ego to be the first. The go to always interrupt. The ego that wants to outshine at every instance. That adamant ego who believes that only s/he is right.

It is the Vishnu/The Protector here that has to do the fine balancing act of preserving everyone’s ego and letting the ideas emerge and then merge to a common point. The Vishnu is the facilitator. S/he has to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to present their thoughts and ideas. No one should be left out. This is not an easy task at all. The protector needs to show support, empathy and diplomacy to get the best out of the team.

  • Mahesh/The Destroyer

This one is free of emotions, stays detached, moves on, and gives new opportunities to be recreated. New opportunities arise when old ones are destroyed or discarded. Here, the team bypasses set systems and can be audacious and bold to create something totally new.

Everything has a shelf life. Imagine if teams stayed within the boundaries of existing styles of working. We would never get to hear creative and innovative ideas. We all need destroyers within the team. Someone who is courageous enough to question the status quo and challenge the management and the policies.

Teams need to work in tandem

It is time that teams work in tandem. That they display unity with the diverse set of skills and competencies that they bring on the table.

It is the time for ideas to emerge. For new things to take shape. And, teams that work in tandem have the unique opportunity to redesign and reshape the story that they wish to narrate.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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