Could your team defend Winterfell?
Not sure about you, but I’m still reeling from Game of Thrones this weekend. Yes, I’m one of those people who need to talk incessantly and theorize, but I can promise you that there will be no spoilers and this will be relevant to you even if you know nothing about the show.
For those who don’t follow, this week’s episode featured a scenario that the entire 8 seasons of the show have been leading up to. This is the moment we as an audience have all been waiting for, and this is the moment that all the characters needed to deliver flawlessly. Throughout the course of the episode, each character had their own part that they played, and the outcome was directly impacted by each person doing what they need to do in the time they needed to do it. You had your characters who you knew were going to stand out as the MVP, and you had those who you knew weren’t going to contribute at the same level, but were going to try their hardest and give it their all. It was an episode that showed a lot of dedication and trust between the characters where everyone needed to act as a team in order to have a positive outcome.
Because this kind of stuff is on my mind all the time, I immediately reflected on how this was a great metaphor for the workplace. Just like on Game of Thrones, your team must have capability, dedication, and trust among themselves in order to achieve a positive outcome — whatever that may be.
When your team has the skills and tools they need to do their job well, they are capable. As leaders, it’s important that we provide the resources that will ensure our teams have the capability to perform at their best. A big reason companies that we work with implement learning and development initiatives is because it allows them to make sure their team consistently has access to learning that develops and grows both hard and soft skills. As a leader, it’s crucial to constantly consider ways you can offer further learning and development to your team — whether it’s through your personal mentorship, through external opportunities, or a combination of the two.
This is just as important as capability, because it’s the difference between someone being able to do something and someone being willing to do something. We’ve all worked with people who had skills that were valuable for the team, and didn’t use them to their fullest potential. When you have someone who has the right skillset and who uses that skillset to make sure the team achieves its goals, that’s the person you want by your side. Jon Snow is a great example of this — he’s a skilled fighter, and he’s willing to use those skills to get the job done as often as he needs to create a positive outcome for his team. He’s both capable and dedicated. As a leader, it’s important to understand how your employees are motivated so you can continue to bring out their dedication.
Without trust, your team will not function properly. When you’re in a high stakes scenario (whether it’s a close deadline, achieving sales goals, or defending the North), your team needs to trust that everyone who is there will apply both capability and dedication to get the job done. When this trust exists, your team will be high functioning and achieve the impossible. Everyone will know where they can contribute most, and they will make sure that the team knows they can be relied on — because they know that they can rely on the team.
Trust is the hardest thing to build, and the easiest thing to lose. It’s important to create a culture of openness and candor within your team, and to show both strength and vulnerability as a leader consistently. When your team feels that you have their back, and that they’re in a safe space to make mistakes and learn, you will see their trust in you and in each other grow exponentially. And you can maintain that by reinforcing that culture through coaching and learning.
When your team has capability, dedication, and trust, they will be able to successfully navigate any situation that they encounter — no matter how high the stakes. You know what you need to do, and now is the time to ensure your team embraces that too.