Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

Thoughts on Leadership: The I in Team is U By Joe Tye

You have heard that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and that a convoy is no faster than its slowest ship. You have also heard that there is no “I” in team. But if a chain is made up of many links, if a convoy is made up of many ships, that means that each link, each ship, is an “I.”

The I in “team” is U. If you are a member of a team (and I’m sure that you are a member of more than one if you include family and community), then U are one of the I’s that make up that team. And since a team is no stronger and no faster than its weakest and slowest “I,” then U have an obligation to your fellow team-members to make yourself as strong and as fast as possible.

In this article , I’ll share seven personal strategies that will help you be a stronger and faster member of the teams in which you participate. These strategies will also help you be more effective in your own career, and in your various family and community activities.

1. Be a Dionarap: Don’t try to look up that word, because it’s not in the dictionary, at least not yet. Dionarap is the word “paranoid” spelled backwards. You will be a far more effective and valuable team-member if you automatically assume that everyone is acting in good faith and in your best interest, even if it’s not apparent at the time.

This does not mean to be stupid or naïve, but you will find that this change in perspective dramatically enhances your relationships and your results. You really cannot for long hide your feelings about another person, and according to the Law of Reciprocity, they will quite quickly begin to feel about you the way you feel about them.

2. Cultivate contrarian toughness: Bad things do happen to good people; bad things do happen to good teams. When they do, instead of feeling victimized, seek out the (often well-disguised) blessings in the situation. Adopt the philosophy of Brother Solanus Casey – Thank God Ahead of Time. Brand the formula – TGAoT – into your own heart and into the hearts of your colleagues (with thanks to Father Michael Crosby for writing the book).

In business and in life, the difference between winners and losers is not nearly so much how good they are at achieving success as how resilient they are in the face of (perceived) failure.

3. Practice your most important speech: The most important speech you ever give is the one you give to yourself all day, every day. Psychologists have shown that the human mind automatically tends to gravitate toward negative, frightening, and depressing thought patterns unless we consciously steer our inner dialog into more positive and constructive channels.

For most people (including me and probably including you as well), unless we’re paying attention, eighty percent of the conversation we have with our inner critics is negative. You need to have a Janitor in Your Attic clean it up. It’s quite simple: every time you catch yourself engaging in negative, self- sabotaging, and disempowering self-talk, visualize it for what it really is – mental graffiti. Then visualize your janitor scrubbing it off the walls of your mind and replacing it with something that is positive, nurturing, and affirming (and to be honest, probably more truthful).

4. Avoid tragi-tainment: Most of what passes for “entertainment” in the media is really tragedy repackaged in such a way as to sell advertising. From CSI to the evening news, most of what you see on television is someone else’s misfortune transmogrified into a televisable spectacle. Unfortunately, the more of that tragi-tainment you absorb, the more it tends to color your perception of the world as a dangerous place, and your subconscious perception of yourself as a helpless victim of that world.

5. Change your reference group: Over time, the single-most important determinant of your beliefs, attitudes, political views, and even your income and social status, will be the people you choose to hang around with. Sociologists call this your reference group.

If you’re not happy with how things are going in your life, look at the people you spend most of your time with. Chances are that they’re unhappy in some of the same ways. Connecting with other happy and successful people will, of course, mean moving beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Adopting the attitude of a Dionarap (#1 above) will help you make the effort with greater confidence.

6. Put on rose-colored glasses: I sometimes have people tell me that I am “a Pollyanna.” I always thank them, then suggest that they read the story. Pollyanna came into a community that was fractured with hate, pain, and broken relationships, and she brought love, healing, and reconciliation. I’ll point that out, then ask, “What’s wrong with that?” You tend to get what you expect out of life; the best thing you can do for yourself and for the members of your team is to create positive expectations of success.

7. Take The Pledge: The most effective thing you can do for yourself to become an empowered individual who makes substantive contributions to your team is to memorize, internalize, and operationalize the Seven Simple Promises of The Self-Empowerment Pledge. As you become more responsible, reliable, determined, and accountable; as you work to make a greater contribution, to be more resilient in the face of adversity, and to maintain a positive perspective in a turbulent world; and as your faith is reflected in your attitudes and your behaviors; you will find yourself doing more to bring your own strengths to the effort, and to support your colleagues in their efforts to do the same. And that is the greatest formula I know for building a successful team.
Joe Tye is president of Paradox 21 Inc., which provides corporate training and culture change initiatives based on a proprietary curriculum of The Twelve Core Action Values of Personal Leadership Effectiveness. He is also the author of several books and audio programs on personal, career, and business success, and a popular motivational speaker. Visit

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