I used to be a Type A personality. I lived by the mantra that “If you want it done right you have to do it yourself.” This meant that I took over all of the management duties; accounting, HR, marketing and yes, even the janitorial duties. That came to an abrupt end when I went to Ohio University to get my MBA.
OU stresses team play, individual ownership and group accountability. My first month in the program was by far the hardest for me. For the first time in my life I didn’t have the resources to go it alone. For the first time in my life I had to trust someone else to come through, and the very thought of granting creative license kept me up at nights hoping, wondering if my teammates would be dependable. Over the course of my program I became amazed at what we could accomplish together, and in the end I learned that Aristotle was right, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The trick to Aristotle’s observation is defining the boundaries. As a manager I use a self developed technique that I call “painting a picture of the promised land.” When I sit down with my staff I lay out the elements that I want to have in the painting. So I may say “the picture of the promised land that I have in mind has the following elements (boundaries). It has a cabin, a fence, an old barn and some mountains in the background. If it had a lake or stream that would be cool. So take those elements and paint me a picture of the promised land.” What comes back is better than I could have imagined on my own and in most cases is incredible and breathtaking.
There is a caveat to this technique of success, however. To get the greatest results it is imperative to grant that creative license and never revoke it. The quickest way to squash morale and momentum in a team or corporate environment is to dismiss the hard work of those whom you have promised to turn loose. As a team manager your responsibility is to enhance, suggest and most of all motivate for higher and higher qualities of work. If you can trust them, they will come through in ways not previously imagined.
At MediaShark, LLC we take a lot of pride in trusting each member to paint their own interpretation of the promised land. By granting creative license and encouraging each other, our whole product is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. As for me? My Type A personality has retired and my promised land philosophy looks amazing from where I stand.