By Bruce Burke

As many of you know, we had a team retreat last weekend. It was great getting the team together for a little work and a lot of fun! We played some pretty serious Kan-Jam, Corn hole and Spike ball!

Our itinerary included (among other things) our continuing education plan, our training program, brainstorming creative ways to make our virtual services better, our COVID safety efforts and community building ideas. However, we started with what we all agree is the absolute most important key to our individual and collective success: team synergy and personal leadership.

When a team is working synergistically, we know that anything is possible. After all, individuals can only know and do so much on their own. One plus one can pretty much only equal two. However, when a team is collaborating and firing on all cylinders, minds expand, the work becomes more fun and the possibilities become endless. This might not come as a huge surprise, but how do you do it? In my experience, each team member must start by focusing on what we define as “personal leadership”.

Personal leadership starts with being proactive, having a clear understanding of who we aspire to be, and living in a way that reinforces these aspirations.  In this context, what could be more important than addressing character? After all, who wants to work synergistically with someone who is wrapped up in themselves or perhaps is judgmental or self-righteous? We must start by working on ourselves, then we can focus on getting better in other areas as professionals.

To this end, we pulled out one of our favorite slides for the retreat.Mission Statement Powerpoint 7.19.jpg

What we know is that people who display the character traits on the left generally have what we want for ourselves. We respect them, listen to them and enjoy their company, making synergy not only possible, but likely. On the flip side, we don’t want to have anything to do with those who display the traits on right. Communication suffers as people think they either have all the answers (pride; self-righteousness; fear) or don’t want to ask questions (pride; fear). These character defects are a recipe for dysfunction not only in our professional relationships, but also in our personal lives.

Without everyone placing a premium on personal leadership, developing and maintaining a synergistic team is nearly impossible. A team is only as strong as its weakest link.

I am sharing this with our community not only because I want you to know what we are working on, but as a reminder for you to put first things first. Speaking for myself, I know if I am not reminded regularly to inventory that very question, months can go by before I realize I am moving in the wrong direction.

Are your behaviors lining up with who you aspire to be? I hope so.