What kind of teams are you involved in on your campus (i.e. PLCs, committees, etc…)? What does collaboration look like in your team? Do you walk out of your team meetings energized or deflated? Does your team have purpose?
Interesting questions to ponder considering the amount of time and resources that are invested into teams within schools.
So, what’s the point of my team at work anyway? While we shouldn’t have to discuss this, we need to have some sort of foundation. Teams are built to maximize the skillsets of its members and work toward some common goal. Teams are designed to collaborate. They meet to discuss status, what is working/what is not working, how to best approach problems, and many other topics about their organization. When collaboration is not present, teams limit their potential for success.
A fully functioning team collaborates with effectiveness and maximizes its members skillsets, allowing innovation to flourish. When collaborating with the goal of innovation, teams produce new ideas, processes, and/or products that are aligned with the common goal, solving school problems. So, how do schools encourage and cultivate innovation for their teams? Coaching, professional development, and team building are common methods to drive innovation but can fall short of their goal if those leading the effort are unequipped, incapable, or incompetent.
For educators, this happens too often with the instructional leaders in the building. Effective educational leadership is a catalyst for ensuring innovation is embedded in the culture of their teams on campus. Leadership that fosters free thinking, motivates, and helps their members be the best versions on themselves, allows for higher levels of production through collaborative innovation. Campus leaders need to empower their teams through coaching methods, improving team members’ abilities to innovatively collaborate. Leaders that coach their teams through innovation, enhance each member’s capabilities to achieve greater accomplishments, as opposed to being micromanaged. Effective team leadership and proper coaching allows the team to manage themselves, creating their own solutions to school problems. Innovation can now flow through their collaborative experiences.
Once this occurs, each team member has a responsibility for innovating to benefit the team’s goal. For individual team members to reach higher levels of thought processes, they must be free to dialogue and debate. This intellectual space must be nurtured and promoted by all team members so that it is embedded within the team dynamic. Team members are better suited to self-assess, self-improve, and are more resourceful when they experience this collegial setting. A successful team relies on all members, not one individual. As each member experiences collaborative innovation, the team becomes stronger. Incorporating coaching concepts, combined with self-management techniques allows teams to operate at higher levels of cognition, fostering team growth and success. School leadership must utilize team coaching in conjunction with relinquishing power and control to increase effectiveness of their teams on campus.
*Engagement questions to start building innovative team collaboration*
What type of team are you a member of within your organization?
Does your team collaborate regularly?
Is innovation a focus when your team is collaborating?
Is freedom of thought and open dialogue embedded within your school’s culture?
How can your team enhance or establish innovation when collaborating?