One day you're on the team. The next day you're chosen to lead the team. As anyone who's been in that situation knows, just because you are chosen to be leader, doesn't mean that all of our co-workers will think of you as 'the leader."
It's the stuff that's made many a consultant wealthy. It reminds me when you are talking about team dysfunctionality the details often sound like high school stuff.
I've been thinking about that a lot as I've watched my 17 year old daughter transition from varsity tennis team member to Co -Captain. There are some definite bumps. Particularly with a team member who thought she should be the team captain rather than my daughter.
When Berit was chosen as co-captain of her tennis team last spring, there was one tennis player who was visibly upset. That girl happens to be the best player on the team, and she was counting on a tradition where the best player is chosen captain.
When the team chose my daughter, they were breaking tradition. Berit is far from being the best player. She's probably one of the worst players on the varsity team. So the other girl's distress over being passed over was understandable.
From my daughter's point of view, the girl has had plenty of time to adjust to the situation and is now trying to usurp her authority. When the other girl called offering to design practices ( a responsibility of the captain), Berit thanked her and declined the offer.
When the girl called team members to remind them to come to practice ( the job of the captain) Berit reminded her that she had already called the girls.
And, when Berit learned that the other team member told players that she was calling to remind them about practice because Berit wasn't doing her job, Berit decided that it was time to confront the other player.
But what about the girl? Are her intentions as nefarious as Berit suspects? Until Berit was told that the team member was saying disparaging things, there was that bit of doubt that maybe Berit was being overly sensitive. Maybe Berit should have welecomed the girl's overtures and figured out a way to make her feel valued.
What do you say to a team member who believes the wrong person was selected for the job? How do you get them on board? And most importantly what do you do if she continues to undermine you and tries to establish an alliance with part of the team?
Being a leader is hard work--especially when you are 17 and haven't had an real training in how to manage team members who don't want ot be team players.
When I asked her what her strategy was going to be, she said, "I'm going to deal with her just as her boss taught her to deal with the bullies at camp, " Kill her with kindess." Then she added, " I'm going to remind her that I am the captain and she's not."