Thursday, December 30, 2010

The puzzle pieces

As I mentioned in yesterdays Post, I am talking about mentor leadership. Up until now, I have spoken more about groups and teams vice individuals. Yes, the groups and teams make up the whole picture, but we have to get the individual pieces in place for our teams to shine. How do we get the pieces to fit, so the picture is clear?

The picture at the top of the article shows exactly how people are before they become a team. They are individuals. Each one is trying to fit in with the others but lack the "Big Picture" view to make it all work, outside maybe a couple pieces coming together out of luck. This is were we, the puzzle masters, aka Mentor Leadership come in.

We have the big picture or vision, if you will, of where every piece needs to go. Sometimes, just when we think that we have a couple pieces that go together, we see that they don't quite match up correctly. When I was a kid working a jigsaw puzzle I would be known to try and "fit" two pieces together. I was usually successful at first but when you looked at the overall picture it just didn't work.

When forming a group of individuals into a team, you must first figure out the following:

  • Strengths, What are the individual strengths of each one? How can the strength of one, build up the weakness of another?
  • Shape, What does each individual bring to the table as far as expertise and knowledge? Just like a puzzle piece each one will have something to share to the greater picture or vision your trying to create.
  • Edges, Which individuals define the shape and scope of your vision? There will be some that will have definitive edges that will build the foundation of your team, therefore making the picture clearer to all who view it.
  • Odd shapes, Which individuals appear, at first , not to fit into the picture? There will be those that don't look like they are going to fit or add value to our vision or picture. Sometimes, these are the very pieces that end up truly fitting in and adding a lot of value to the team, making the overall picture clearer.
As you put the pieces together, try and keep the overall picture in view. So many times we lose focus on the overall picture that we start to panic and cram pieces together. This is when we are no longer Leading but are dictating.

The beautiful thing is, that when we do get all the pieces together we have created a real team. No longer just a bunch of individuals.

How do you put the pieces of your teams together? Are they still individuals or have they formed the vision that you set out to make?


Becky Robinson said...


I love the visual you draw here with your description of how mentor leaders help a team to fit together. The idea of the edges is particularly help; every organization needs people who will help define and give shape to the group.

What is your best tip for leaders to know their team's strengths so that they can put the puzzle together effectively?

Voices of Leadership said...

Becky, Thank you for your comment. I would say the best way to know your team's strength is by spending quality time with each one and watching how they interact with one another. I have found that by doing that, I have been able to properly place people where they are able to reinforce one another. Making the team stronger as a whole. Thank you for your time and comment, it is appreciated.

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