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Ingredients of Natural Teams - re-inforced by Gallup

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(Comments on an article, “What Strong Teams Have in Common” – The five sure signs of an excellent team – by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, in the Gallup Management Journal dated 26th March 2009)

Natural Teams are very powerful entities. For the simple reason that a natural team is so keen to be the best or to be first, that they inevitably find the competencies and create the resources to deliver excellence, under pressure, and in changing and challenging conditions. In order to create Natural Teams, the leadership must invest in creating the 3 Pillars of a natural team that has been repeatedly reinforced in various articles throughout this blog.

The article by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, authors of ‘Strengths Based Leadership”, powerfully validates the behavioural ingredients of natural teams that have been consistently experienced and demonstrated by participants during the “CorporateTheatre” workshops, irrespective of industry, background or experience.

“1. Conflict doesn’t destroy strong teams because strong teams focus on results”.
“ . . . the most successful teams are not the ones in which team members always agree with one another. Instead, they are often characterized by healthy debate – and at times, heated arguments . . . . . One reason great teams are able to grow through conflict is because they have a laser-like focus on results . . . failing teams tend to personalize disagreement, creating territorial divides that continue to grow”.

These statements brilliantly validate the experiential insights from “CorporateTheatre” as is clear from the following insights shared by participants:

The 3 Pillars of a Natural Team as defined by the “CorporateTheatre” methodology (for greater clarity click on the link and read the entire article) are:

First – Integration as ‘actors’ and not as ‘characters’

Second – Clarity of the same task and commitment to the same success

Third – Total Trust in each other’s clarity and commitment

This excerpt talks about the 2nd Pillar – “laser like focus on the results”. Once the 3 Pillars are created, participants experience that the more the contradiction, the richer is the understanding. Contradiction without ego investment creates richer understanding. Contradiction with ego investment (conflicting individual agenda instead of the laser-like focus on the same results) creates conflict. While contradiction is healthy and enriching, conflict inevitably creates unhealthy tensions, wastage of time in trying to ‘manage’ conflict, and stress.

2. Strong teams prioritize what’s best for the organization, then move forward.

“ . . . Members of high-performing teams are consistently able to put what’s best for the organization ahead of their own egos.”

While fully understanding and respecting the spirit of this statement by the authors, I consider this way of expressing the idea dangerous and probably dysfunctional. A high calibre corporate professional almost inevitably has ambitions and the desire to rise fast up the corporate leader, to become the head of an organization. While the idea of putting the organization ahead of their own egos is a noble thought as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, it is not practical. The “CorporateTheatre” experience defines this differently. We would rather say, members of high performing teams have aligned their egos and their concepts of individual success to the team’s success. If the senior leadership responsible for the organization’s objectives and culture is able to clearly define goals, the parameters of performance, and create an appraisal and reward policy that ensures that if the team wins , every individual in the team also wins in a way that is meaningful to them, and conversely, that if the team does not win, no individual can win in a significant way, this alignment is created. (For greater clarity on the appraisal and reward policy guidelines defined by the “CorporateTheatre” experience, click on the link.)

3. Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work.

“ . . . As hard as they work for the company, they seem to bring the same level of energy and intensity to their family, social, and community life.”

“CorporateTheatre” defines this as the “power of availability”. An actor on stage, if he/she is to be fully effective has to be completely available to the performance moment to moment. A good footballer, tennis player, formula racer, mountain climber have to be completely available in the moment, in the here and now of each moment, in order to deliver excellence. This availability converts very high pressure environments into fun and even relaxation. An effective member of a strong team has this ability to be completely available in the here and now at the work place with total commitment, attention, awareness, and energy. So also when they are at home, they make themselves completely available at the home with their loved ones, with the same commitment, attention, awareness and energy. They do not carry the baggage of the workplace to the home or vice-versa. Given this attitude of availability, irrespective of the time spent, each moment is so rich in quality, that there is a feeling of being balanced, relaxed, joyful, successful, and integrated.

It is deeply rewarding for me as a “CorporateTheatre” facilitator that the behavioural dynamics consistently experienced and expressed through this methodology is so strongly validated by years of study and research. The article starts with the statement:

“Gallup has been studying leadership teams for nearly four decades, and we have witnessed some telltale signs of strong, high-performing teams”.

“CorporateTheatre” participants define these insights EXPERIENTIALLY even in a 1-day workshop, proving beyond doubt that excellence is our birthright and available to us at the level of our primary instinct. All that we need to do is to remove the blocks created by ignorance of the possibilities, and obsolete concepts of ‘professionalism’.

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