5th January 2010
What is a team (of leaders: e.g. Freedom Team)?
This is going to be a ‘running’ blog on my thoughts on what is the meaning of the word ‘Team’ in Freedom Team (http://freedomteam.in/).
Indians arent used to working in Teams
Indians are generally unable to work as a team. They dont have any experience of team work from their school education onwards. They are always competing with each other, not working on team projects. As adults they therefore prefer to function in one of these two ways:
a) Dictators. Purely hierarchical. The boss is always right. No one questions the boss.
b) Subservient. The junior obey the senior. No questions asked.
This is similar to the High Command model in parties or factions in India (e.g. Congress High Command). Both are essentially the same model: i.e. hierarchical. Both are highly political, with jockeying for positions. That is why in the Freedom Team of India the greatest problem has been to get people away from the idea of ‘office bearers’. A leaderless organisation simply doesn’t click in the heads of most Indians.
So what then is a team?
– A team is not a party. Thus it is not merely partisan. Instead, it is a place to be and to contribute as an equal. It is about the journey equally as it is about the end goal. It is thus an experience in itself. It is a dramatically different culture to that of ‘parties’. It is true that FTI members may ultimately form/join a party, the culture of which may well be slightly different. But it is to be hoped that the culture of the Freedom Team will spread to that party as well.
– It is a team of equals. Equal citizens. None above the other. Thus, there is NO team leader. No office bearers. Leaders are nominated/volunteered for various tasks. No ones voice is louder than that of others. All are encouraged to lead/participate actively. All are encourged to freely express their views.
– It demands opposition, not conformity. Opposition is GOLDEN. There has never been progress in the world without opposition. So it is not a bunch of yes-men who mimick the ‘boss’. There is not the slightest diminution in ones independence of thinking. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Advantages of working in a Team
– We dont make major mistakes because we listen to a range of views
– We innovate by allowing expression to a wide range of new ideas, some of which are piloted because we want to test new things
– We prioritise properly by listening to a range of views and don’t get sucked into action for the sake of action
– We work as genuinely equal citizens on our common projects and never reduce our respect for each other.
– Working in a team is much more tedious and frustrating (people hate being blocked by others) than being a dictator.
– It is much slower since every issue is revisited ten times and everyone must agree.
– It is extremely daunting for Indians in particular, who are not used to working in teams. It is common for their egos get hurt easily when team members oppose their ideas, of for them to get flustered and angry. Working in a team needs a thick skin, which most Indians don’t have.
Challenges fpr FTI
FTI, being the first major team in India’s political horizon, faces great challenges in moulding its strong-willed ‘leaders’ into a Team.
Time out approach
Whenever any issue starts dominating emotions to the extent that mutual respect is diminished and conversations become personal, any team member should be able to call a Time Out and focus on team building, examining our basic purposes, etc., and working happily together again. Without that, the team will crashland quickly and blow up.
==== COMMENTS FROM THE TEAM===
raising issues openly by any member and voting with or without comments is an important factor to be incorporated.
==Putting bye our emotions, and each one had to say the following.
1. Good things about self (every thing) – all complete the task over 1 – 2 hours.
2. Good things about others (each one) as observed by them (reiterating others views or adding new views but not just unduely praising any one) – 1- 2 hours
3. Bad things about self (every thing)
4. Bad things about others (each one) as observed – polite, firm, objective to the extent possible, non abusive, etc. – no personal attacks.
Every one’s mind is conditioned to accept good and bad remarks with an intention to help them improve / correct any aberrations in behaviour and take the good aspects of others.
Of course some reasonable level of familiarity is required to achieve this team exercise. Else it would become an exercise in futility.
The 4 aspects noted for each is circulated to all.