Flow, Sustainable Success, and the Shift from Me to Team
As promised, I am sharing excerpts from The Shift from Me to Team, which will be published this year.
MY REQUEST OF YOU: We are always open to learning and growing and would appreciate your feedback. How can we be more clear and helpful to the reader? We know this works, but are we clear enough? Please share what you like and what could be improved. After all, the work we do taps into the essence of human nature, how we are meant to work together. Your help is most appreciated.
Individuals and organizations possess intrinsic energy like a river flowing down a mountainside. When we honor the natural forces of human nature, there is a natural energy that provides sustainable flow for our lives.
The State of Flow
What would it feel like to have your team on the same page, fully engaged, doing their best work in service of each other to benefit the organization?
Can you recall a day, a meeting, or an interaction where every moment seemed to go smoothly, the events unfolding effortlessly, almost as if they had been orchestrated? The experience feels like a river running easily and naturally, with natural momentum flowing to its destination. We use the term flow. to describe this feeling.
The Enablers of Flow for Sustainable Greatness
After playing professional football, a fast-track corporate career as an engineer and consultant left me feeling unfulfilled. I found myself back at Michigan Football, where I had played college ball, responsible for off-the-field operations. At Michigan, I became driven to understand if there was a system or science behind the truly exceptional teams. Over the next 14 years, I studied the most extraordinary leaders of the most outstanding teams to differentiate what they were doing to achieve consistent performance. This study revealed a consistent foundation for decision-making that was clear to all and honored how they worked together for peak performance. We call this their Foundation of Greatness.
Several years after leaving Michigan Athletics, I founded FS/A. For the last twenty years, our team at FS/A has been helping organizations uncover their Foundation of Greatness to achieve consistent Peak Performance. In doing so, we have helped them unleash their untapped greatness for sustainable peak performance.
Over the decades of developing leaders, we have discovered common enablers of long-term sustainable success, regardless of the organization. There is a foundation of greatness resident in each organization. Leaders can create an energized, thriving culture that makes long-term, sustainable success possible when capitalizing upon their foundation of greatness. The flow state is achieved when leaders honor their Foundation of Greatness.
For any team that endeavors to take this journey, leadership is responsible for the enablers of sustainable success. We’ll describe the enablers that have helped our clients achieve that flow state as they build their foundation for long-term sustainable success in the following pages.
The Leadership Shift from Me to Team
On the journey to unleashing greatness, we challenge many commonly held beliefs about what it means to lead. Many misguided beliefs have deep roots in our history.
Team-focused leadership taps into the root of how humans are meant to work together. Humans are wired to be emotionally moved and energized by the fulfillment of team success more than individual success. After all, we are the product of our ancestors who thrived because they developed communities of interdependent people who supported each other and had each other’s back. Team leadership capitalizes on that human desire to succeed as a part of a team, a community.
To lead by enabling individual greatness in team members, the leader must be genuinely curious about how they can better serve the organization and its culture. They must ask many questions and take in the answers, allowing decision-making to flow from the bottom up. This process will not be as immediately efficient as telling others how to execute the plan. However, Team-focused leadership creates the context for producing extraordinary results. That is only possible when a leader acknowledges that the collective intelligence, talents, and gifts of a team are greater than their own, especially if they are in the game too! In the end, leaders who move to Team-focused leadership enable the possibility of sustainable greatness, and they experience a deep sense of fulfillment in their work. The enablers of sustainable greatness can surface once the leader—and each team member—embraces their role in one team with a shared vision. We refer to this as the Shift from Me to Team.
Most leaders climb the ladder by capitalizing upon their talent and skill to deliver results. As leaders, they are now tasked with leading others who deliver the results. This will require a shift from focusing on what the leader wants to what their team needs. This shift enables leaders to create a thriving culture capable of unleashing their team’s greatness.
The shift from Me leadership to Team leadership means leaders no longer demand that their team serve them. The leader’s responsibility is to positively energize their team members in service of their shared purpose.
For Peak Performance, the Shift from Me to Team needs to reside in every individual in the organization. But it begins with the leader. The shift from Me leadership to Team leadership is challenging, and it takes time. Accepting the challenge head-on is what this book is about, and the rewards go beyond expectations.
 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 28-29.