Workplace ethics: Team building – keeping an open mind
Every person has unique and irreplaceable capabilities.
In order to form a team, it is necessary to identify these abilities and create a framework in which each team member can actualise their uniqueness. Within this environment, each team member can experience their own personal growth, and the team can happily and efficiently produce the output that is needed by the organisation in which the team operates.
In other words, by identifying and then combining the unique contribution that every individual in the team can make, it is possible to create a true group dynamic that combines the unique personal and creative strengths of all involved.
However, it is only possible to achieve this balance if we do not make generalisations about the types of people in the team. This is because the true brilliance of every person occurs precisely at the point where that person is unique. If we mentally put people into slots, we will never be able to identify this point of uniqueness, because we will expect a generic “good” response from that person.
A story: I scanned the article with only passing interest until I saw his name. It was one of those ‘home town boy makes good’ features about a California native son, who had fashioned a brilliant business plan to save an area hospital and whose beneficence had significantly impacted his entire community. When I saw the name Sam Davis attached to this wealthy benefactor, I almost fainted. I had taught Sam Davis!
If Sam had been one of my ‘A’ students, with a quick mind, sharp intellect or driven personality, I would have hardly been surprised. In fact, if Sam had shown academic achievement in any area at all, I would have nodded in agreement at all the accolades showered upon him (and maybe even taken a bit of credit for the upstanding citizen Sam had become). But the truth was quite different. The only thing that ever seemed to interest Sam was recess and lunch on Tuesday when they served hot dogs. You never want to give up hope on your students and their abilities, but with Sam I came precariously close to signing him off. At times, I felt that I would be preparing him for his future if I could teach him to say, “Sir, how would you like your fries?”
But, evidently, I was very wrong. Some time after (barely) graduating high school something changed and Sam became an incredible success story. I am not sure how or why, but it did set me to thinking. While obviously Sam was absorbing more than I gave him credit for, in the end result, I as an educator must pause and reflect on how I missed seeing the talent this student possessed and ask: What does success in school mean and is academic success a teacher’s primary objective?
The moral: It is only possible to identify every person’s unique gifts by keeping a completely open mind. It is also only possible to determine how someone can best fit into society if we acknowledge their unique potential and personality.
If we mentally grade people against a predetermined set of criteria, we will never be able to perceive the brilliance of everyone’s unique gifts and talents, and we will never find the optimum resonance which that person can enjoy with the world.
By keeping an open mind, we can develop the ability to perceive the light of each individual’s personality and talents, and understand how this unique potential can be released.