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No One of Us Is as Smart as All of Us

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

Helen Keller spoke this line on multiple occasions. How amazing that words from the 1920s are so relevant today.

Let me share a quick true story that celebrates my current leadership team members. I asked them to help me come up with a good monthly town hall topic for our entire team. They found this video clip, “The 7 Keys to Creative Collaboration,” on YouTube, discussed it, volunteered to cover each key and present as one cohesive team. They filled me in on the how and why and what I can do to open and support all our folks. And this was all done within an hour. What a fabulous team!

Now, did we always work like this? Heck no. We had to work on building our team. That takes WORK! It takes TRUST. And, CANDOR. I really loved the connection between the YouTube video and “Creativity, Inc., Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration,” written by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull. If you aren’t familiar with Edwin Catmull, he is Pixar’s Co-founder and President.

When you read the word Pixar, what is the first word or phrase that comes to mind? My mind goes two ways – and, just know, I can never answer a question exactly as it’s asked.  So, if you would humor me, write down what comes to your mind. Don’t peek at my answers below!

First, I think Sulley and Monsters, Inc. Then, I think creativity and fun.

Do those make sense to you? Did something similar come to mind?

In his co-authored book, Catmull shares the philosophies that enabled creativity and defied convention at Pixar. A few that most resonate with me as a leader, and that I incorporate into my teams, include:

Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But, give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.

It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take those risks.

The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.

A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.

Don’t assume that general agreement leads to change. It takes significant energy to move a group, even when all are on board.

Close your eyes and think about your best team experience. What made it that way?

Now, think about the team you are currently leading or are a member of – what can you do to make it that BEST experience you just remembered? What tips can you take from the video or from Creativity, Inc. to make you the best leader and team member possible?

Use the Seven Keys video to hold yourself accountable (or dependable). I would love if you used the comments section below to mark down what you are going to “add” to your leadership style based on the tips provided here. I am happy to be your “accountability buddy.”

Teamwork takes time, effort and commitment. The rewards are vast – fun, family and friendship. As Mike Wazowski (Monsters, Inc.) says to his teammate Sulley, “Nothing is more important than our friendship.” Oh, and “remember to tip your waitresses.”

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected] And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Rebecca (Becky) Mack Johnson’s government career spans almost 34 years. She’s been an SES executive for over 15 years. Her leadership experiences range from business operations’ positions to the human capital side of the house. Becky’s passion centers around helping people grow and achieve their goals. Becky considers receiving the Treasury Department’s Leadership Legacy Award in 2017 as one of her greatest accomplishments. Becky believes continual learning is essential. To practice what she preaches, Becky completed her Masters Degree in Strategic Public Relations in her early 40s. She is also an International Coaching Federation ACC certified coach and a Project Management Professional.

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