Oprah Winfrey has long believed in community; now she’s leading a global community. She always knew that being connected makes life easier, placing high value and trust in her friends like Gayle King. They and others built Oprah’s business empire together. Now Oprah’s sharing a secret she’s found recently that helps her to more easily maintain weight loss.
She’s not doing it alone. Weight Watchers helped, but her family and friends helped more.
Friends and family aligned with her – not just in support, but in every day practice. Steadman, has supported Oprah through years of very public weight gain and loss. Recently, though, he has also joined Weight Watchers International. He is counting points, too.
Oprah noticed the difference for her when he engaged fully with the program.
“Attagirls” certainly helped but counting points together made it easy. Oprah shared in a recent interview that their shared experience reminded her of what she always knew.
A committed group can do more together than a determined individual can do alone. Oprah believes this so strongly that she has partnered with Weight Watchers to launch a new campaign. Members lose weight with friends and family. In fact, Oprah recently joined the audioconference of an Oklahoma women’s Weight Watchers group. I imagine they were motivated that day!
Says Jim Chambers, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International, “Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission. We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realize their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”
Like Oprah, I’ve always believed we can do more together than any of us can alone. I know it’s true for me. Because of my busy life and where I live, I reach out virtually for support. For example, I failed for years to remove certain food groups from my diet. In December, 2014, I begged a dear friend to be my virtual partner in a total detox. From 100 miles away (with a couple road trips to cook together and a Dropbox shared recipe folder), we did it! I lost 20 pounds in three weeks, and 18 months later I’ve maintained permanent change.
I literally could not do it alone, even though I was actually alone 98% of the time.
Professional careers are the same. If we’re virtual team members, even more so. Doing work together makes a difference, even if we do it in different places. I enjoy working with a team and I need to work alone…. I’ve been self-employed and working mostly out of a home office for well over 30 years. My business partners, when I have them, are always virtual. Clients are, by nature and planning, temporary.
I may seem to contradict myself when I say I enjoy teamwork with that work environment history. However…
I establish swift trust and maintain strong relationships with a network of trusted clients, colleagues and friends. I’ve done this for decades. (Can I just express my gratitude for how much easier technology makes this today?) As a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) business owner, I’ve depended on my professional friends in ways full-time employees often find in their employer organization and professional association.
I’m not just an extrovert who needs people socially. I need my peeps to help me see my blind spots, find quality resources, join me on teams when our competencies work well together for a client… And I need to be there for them, too. I enjoy being a connector and resource myself. Mutual relationships make me more complete and fulfilled – personally and professionally.
My network has many kinds of people in it – it grows and adjusts with me. I have a highly trusted support system of advisors, former students, team mates, bosses and clients, peers and fellow learners. I have a known pool of talent when I build project teams, and access to trusted recruiting firms when needed. Most important, my friends believe in me when I forget why I should believe in myself.
So too, teams are more powerful when members know, respect, trust and support one another. They remember they are part of a network that depends on each other. A successful team makes and keeps commitments. Team members tell the truth. They support one another’s goals personally. They have opinions about each other (we’re human). They hold one another accountable, while assuming positive intent. People are honest when they need to adjust a team commitment. Everyone cooperates and adjusts as team requirements allow.
Authentic team respect shows in team results, assuming everyone is competent. These teams become small communities of production in a network of teams.
What makes Oprah and the Weight Watcher partnership work is the same fuel that makes high performance teams work – they are aligned around a shared purpose and common goals. Everyone has to do their own work, and they commit to do it with each other. Motivation is built-in. So is support and accountability. Results show.
Of course support groups and learning teams have been around for a while. LinkedIn Groups are an example of virtual professional communities that most of us include as part of our professional network outreach. Face-to-face community support is also available. I used to peer-lead a monthly management consultant case consultation group. My partners, a few colleagues and I created a forum when we were doing profoundly strategic work in organizations. We wanted qualified input to raise the quality of service we could provide. As a fairly young professional, I wanted trustworthy advice to make sure I did no harm to my clients. Even when I was sure how to proceed, I sought their expertise in case I missed something. I quickly learned peer advice is a very powerful process and fast track to mastery. Vistage and The Alternative Board are business models based on peer advice. It works.
Few of us find all the expert support we need on our team or in our organizations. Begin to thoughtfully develop and expand your trusted peer support team, if you haven’t already.
Maybe you’re wondering how…
To start, be a committed team member yourself. As you traverse career, teams, jobs and organizations, commit to the task and the team members. Expand relationships with people you want to become part of your long-term network.
Here are 3 tips that will help you find colleagues who could become members of your professional support team:
1. Find interests that motivate both of you. To do this, you have to know yourself. Know what work you’re good, enjoy, want to learn. Know what kinds of people you work best with, who pushes you to your personal best, even while they don’t always agree with you. Notice what kinds of organization mission or project purpose inspire you. If you’re already on a team, do you enjoy the work itself? Confirm alignment with your teammates about team task, communication, workflow and relationship. Learn about your teammates, even if it’s just about the kids.
Once you know yourself and what motivates you, reach out and find people who motivate and inspire you.
2. Be real. Engage people authentically. Stay in touch and take time to continuously get to know each other. Learn about differences between you; they are always there. Difference brings variety to life and adds perspective to conversations. Explore shared interests that brought you together in the first place. At work, partner with teammates based on strength and passion when you can. Teaming to strength and passion is a powerful way to up team production – everyone gets to be their ‘real’ best.
3. Support each other. Be trustworthy. Follow through on commitments. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Anticipate when a teammate needs you. Offer before being asked. Bob Burg teaches how to be Go-Givers. Simply put, seek first to help others. Be generous. Don’t be a Go-Getter. Go-getters build networks to leverage people’s networks. They don’t care to really know people or have authentic relationships. Go-Givers don’t expect people to help them first. How do you treat your network? Are you a Go-Giver or a Go-Getter?
Three simple relationship commitments will help you be a better team member, leader and influencer. Go find or reconnect with aligned folks. Feel the power of your global network.