Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking One for the Team

Some experiences of work are like a roller coaster ride. I was at a meeting one time—in fact this sort of thing has happened many times to me—where in group deliberations regarding scoring bids for a tender, there were decisions for consensus where I had to ‘take one for the team,’ i.e. I couldn’t have my way or vote because I was out-voted by the others.

In just enough time to recover my sinking sense of satisfaction, the next person had to give way to others’ opinions also so that the broader group view could be established... again, consensus was achieved. By the end of the meeting it was apparent to me that a very clear and fair ground had been reached where not one person did not accede to the team as a whole at least once.

There is an interesting dynamic that happens in teams whom work this way. The sense of taking one for the team is affirming as it recognises that each singular person is not as important—in the context of the process—as the group is.

The need to swallow the pride and release our grip on our views in the needed moment was mandatory for all, and the longer the process went the easier that got as person after person modelled the behaviour, with the very earliest examples leading the way.

There’s an ebb and flow in these types of longer meetings, and as energy levels wax and wane different people get a role in taking the lead, carrying the others along until the lead changes—all to keep the process going on track.

Most important perhaps is the need to manage egos, for egos are a destructive thing in this environment. Had even one person taken it upon themselves to buck the trend of taking one for the team, the whole concept of unity and group equality might’ve been thrown out the window. But, this is unlikely to happen where the earliest examples model the behaviour, however hard it is.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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