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Fulfill your individual dreams within a team

“A community where you are allowed to be yourself.”

I recently heard these words from the Danish actor, Ken Vedsegaard, when describing the cultural environment behind Vesterbro Ungdomsgaard; an established Danish youth club mainly known for theater and music performed by young people. Ken described how this culture helped him as a young teenager to identify his future role in life and be on the path to becoming the well-established actor he is today.

My dream for all teams and organizations is to cultivate a similar culture that gives freedom to individuality.

I often listen to managers wonder why their employees do not meet their obligations, even though the manager keeps telling the employee which obligations to fulfill. I believe these managers need to rethink their approach to team leadership. Instead of forcing an employee into an already fully described role, it would be more fruitful to align the role to what the employee naturally loves doing and does well.

In order to grow high-performance teams, we must ensure that each individual is taking advantage of their personal passions and competencies, and that these are evident to the rest of the team. This approach fosters interpersonal respect and leverages each member’s talents. It is fundamental to create an environment, where team members feel free to be honest about their passions and personal challenges. Then team members are able to attract the tasks they naturally love doing and learn from the other team members.

An example of team wins that came from passion sharing is Ulrik Wilbek, the most winning Danish handball coach ever. Wilbek has  won 11 medals so far, as coach for both men’s and women’s Danish national handball teams, at the European Championships, the World Championships, and the Olympic Games.

“Ulrik Wilbek was really good at seeing the strengths of each player and used these strengths collectively on the team. Ulrik developed each of us individually.”
– Janne Kolling, one of Ulrik Wilbek’s former players¹

Are you really honest when it comes to sharing your passions with your manager and colleagues?

I invite you to share your comments.

¹Source: “Verdens bedste Wilbek”, TV2, television documentary, 2012.


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