Leadership & The Value of Synergy

Leadership & The Value of Synergy

I first learned the value of teamwork when I was tasked to lead a Province wide initiative to write Computer Science curriculum here in Ontario. Sure, I had been a part of school staffs, a teammate on the local soccer team, and even a volunteer on a board of directors, but this was different.

Our task was to develop 18 lessons, 9 of which contained zero technology and 9 which were full on plugged in, yielding us two lessons per grade level for K-8.

Our team came with a plethora of experience and huge fucking diversity in terms of coding ability. We were the perfect sample to represent the larger population of educators.

Until we weren’t.

With so many districts looking to implement computational thinking, being on a Provincial team gave us clout. It meant we were to go-to’s. The gurus. It meant we got attention. It is hot in the spotlight and we had our sunscreen.

But it also meant ego. So much fucking ego.

It meant certain team members had their own agenda and were simply using our opportunity and platform to gain notoriety. It meant bias existed in the content we were making. It meant some of us were on the team for the wrong reasons. It meant most of us were heading in the same direction, with a few of us causing hurdles along the way and ultimately slowing our progress. The synergy of any team goes out the window the second a member puts their own personal best interest above the group’s shared vision and goals.

There is not one person on this planet that is worth you fucking laying awake at night thinking you are not good enough or that your team is not good enough. But if you find your headspace being filled with this type of shit, it’s time to revisit your definition of team. It is time to re-align your goals. It is time for everyone to admit their why. Why are we doing this? Why are you doing this?

Unfortunately the project fizzled. But not without a few lessons learned so I’ll take that as a small victory. Sometimes people will use your content for their own personal and professional gain. Just because someone is in your circle, doesn’t mean they are in your corner. And unfortunately, some folks falsely preach the importance of building relationships.

If you find an opportunity presenting itself, jump on it. But be mindful of how it came to be, why it came to be and where you might be heading with it, as well as those who might be along for the ride. I was chosen from thousands to be a team member, but I was not the only one chosen.

Some of my former teammates went to to lead schools and even districts leaving me questioning everyone’s best interest. Are we really in it for the kids? Or do we say this out loud providing us with a sense of comfort as we step on the toes of those around us who helped us get to where we are today as we try to climb some corporate ladder?

Team synergies can be exponentially powerful and each member gets to fulfill their own goals along the way. There is tremendous potential when the combined value of the moving parts is greater than the sum of the individual performances. However, one bad apple and the entire ecosystem becomes incompatible to the point where teammates might just be better off asking for a trade.

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