The 3rd and final set of excerpts from: "How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth"by Robyn Benincasa - (World Champion Adventure Racer and Guinness Book Record Holder in Kayaking) (This remarkable book talks about teams competing and winning against extremely difficult and life-threatening odds. What is fascinating is that the team dynamics and principles of winning described in this book are almost identical with those desperately sought by corporate leaders and teams everywhere, and which are powerfully and experientially reinforced through the "CorporateTheatre" experience. One key insight gained is that even across diverse platforms of challenge and experiencing, at the core, human behaviour and aspirations are almost exactly the same!) Here are some brilliant statements from the book and the relevant "CorporateTheatre" connects. (The excerpts are in bold italics)
"I’m better, stronger, faster, more productive and more successful because you are by my side. I make you better. You make me better. When we achieve human synergy, the results of our efforts are far greater than anything we could have accomplished as individuals. We’re not just walking side by side toward a common goal anymore. Sometimes we’re actually carrying one another for the good of the team".
This is a powerful concept - 'human synergy'. Much more powerful and meaningful than just 'teamwork'. Clearly, the synergy of a 'natural' team is much more than the sum total of the individual energies of the team members. So also with competencies. The collective competence of a 'natural' team is much more than the sum total of the individual competencies in the team.
At the end of a typical "CorporateTheatre" workshop production, when participants are asked whether, considering the fact that they were doing theatre for the first time, and with the 'ridiculous' deadlines and resource constraints, they had expected to deliver the kind of production that they actually did, the answer inevitably is, "NO". Participants go on to share that when everyone came together, gained clarity of a common goal and aligned to a collective success, the results were far beyond anybody's expectations. Moreover, each person in the team felt they made a significant contribution and that their contribution was valued by the team.
"Is your team flexible enough to allow different leaders to emerge whenever the situation calls for it? Teammates should be encouraged to come forward whenever their strengths and experiences are the most useful. On the best teams, the leadership revolves constantly, as do leadership styles." As I mentioned in my last post, a 'natural' leader does not feel compelled to lead all the time. Instead, after the destination and the parameters of reaching there successfully have been defined, the natural leader steps back and empowers the team to lead, based on who knows that part of the journey best.
“LIVE IN YOUR STRENGTHS RATHER THAN SPENDING TIME SHORING UP YOUR WEAKNESSES.” . . . . . . . "NEVER LET THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION HINDER PROGRESS."
One consistent insight gathered in "CorporateTheatre" workshops is that it is much more functional and productive to celebrate your strengths than focus on your weaknesses. In a 'natural' team, everyone is expected to be equally committed but are not expected to be equally competent. Each one delivers what they are good at with all their commitment, and what they are not good at is made up for by someone else, and vice versa. Perfection is not an option. Perfection means the end of growth. As is playfully stated, when we are perfect we are either dead or we become god. Till then, on the human platform imperfection is a human privilege, and if, instead of mourning our weakness, we can optimize and celebrate our strengths, the world and most workplaces would be much happier.
Another connected insight is, define the destination with absolute precision. Do not define the journey too precisely. If you want to plan a perfect journey, you will never start. Keeping the destination clear and the journey not too rigidly defined, enables us to tap the unexpected possibilities and changes that continuously emerge as we journey along towards our common goal, and to respond with greater spontaneity and creativity to the opportunities and challenges that we come across.
"ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCCESS AND FAILURE AS A TEAM." . . . . . . . . “ON HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAMS, EVERYONE ACCEPTS COMPLETE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE GROUP’S SUCCESSES AND FAILURES.” A 'natural' team is about a common goal and a collective success. Success is a collective celebration and failure a collective responsibility. Though it may sound idealistic to many, these values are behaviourally defined every time a group of people come together to form a 'natural' team.
As has been repeatedly stressed throughout this blog, the challenge of leadership is not to 'teach' people how to integrate, collaborate, communicate, and innovate towards transcendental performances. Instead, it is about creating an environment that enables and sustains 'natural' teams. An organization that is a collection of 'natural' teams whose goals are aligned to the larger organizational goals will tap the power of human synergy that has been responsible for unprecedented and outstanding achievements and successes throughout human as well as corporate history. (Deep gratitude to Robyn for sharing her adventures and her profound and universal wisdom)