The old saying goes that “There’s no ‘I’ in Team”, but that’s not really true. There are many. Far more, in fact, than the number of individual members that ever sit round the meeting table, because for every individual within every team, there will be whole variety of different ‘I’s:
- The ‘I’ thats fully committed, empowered and engaged
- The ‘I’ that’s happy to give it 70 or 80%, but chooses to hold something back
- The ‘I’ that stopped being engaged a while ago – and wonders when anyone will notice
- The ‘I’ that is only in it for themselves, and only for as long as it suits them to be there
- The ‘I’ that’s feeling totally overwhelmed because of stuff outside of work
- The’I’ that want’s your job, and is convinced they could do it better than you
- The ‘I’ that’s just about to switch off …. right about now
Beyond ‘reasonable performance’ some teams are able to achieve a state of very high performance, and within these teams there appears to be three common characteristics. Firstly, the individual members have a particularly high level of respect for one another. Secondly, safe and secure in the knowledge that they are able to trust, and be trusted by each other, high performing teams will typically take on significant challenges that others may well think are impossible. It is at this point, when team members begin to recognise the importance of their individual contribution to sustaining the group’s success, that characteristic number three kicks in, and the collective, collaborative belief and ownership of the team, by the team, for the team pushes their activity, creativity and passion into overdrive.
In a tough economy, change initiatives are introduced to streamline processes and improve performance, but demands and pressures can become a burden of anxiety for employees at every level. Leaders are tasked to achieve more with fewer resources, they put more and more pressure on their teams, and they begin to compete with those who they once collaborated with. Very quickly, organisations can unwittingly perpetuate a climate of fear and uncertainty, and before they know it, a survival mentality has taken hold.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates that when people feel insecure our natural instinct for survival causes us to withdraw into a ‘survival’ mindset. When our job security feels threatened, either by change or by demand for increased output, cost cutting or personal pressures at home, we erect an invisible barrier around ourselves and instinctively start looking out for ourselves first. Maslow explains that until our unconscious need for safety and security feel satisfied, we cannot even begin to consider how great it would be to belong (engagement), or strive towards fulfilling our esteem and self-actualisation needs ( high performance).
The key to creating high performance teams lies within our cellular biology. According to Dr Bruce Lipton, best selling author of The Biology of Beliefs, when we feel unsafe, under pressure or in a stressful situation our body releases cortisol and adrenaline into our system which in turn causes our cells to seal themselves tight, and switch into a survival operating mechanism. In survival mode cells become closed silos protected by a wall that very effectively protects them from dangerous stress hormones that would do them harm. Alternatively, when we feel safe and supported we release serotonin and oxytocin, hormones that are known to actively increase our individual openness towards social belonging. To put it simply; an environment where individuals feel stressed will actively encourage selfish, closed thinking – a silo mentality. Whilst a safe and supportive environment will actively encourage open, selfless thinking – a collaborative and caring culture.
Most people only really get round to doing something about a situation when they identify a problem, or an opportunity. We are all motivated by either getting away from people or situations that make us feel bad, or moving towards people or situations that make us feel good. Whilst we like to think that we arrive at our important decisions based on well thought out logical processes, in actual fact, 84% of our decisions are based purely on our emotions. So right now, when you tap into your emotional guidance system, how do you feel? If you don’t feel like you have a problem with the way that your leadership team is working together or performing, or if you don’t feel like there is an opportunity for your team to step up to another level, you’re really not going to do anything.
Until you feel it, you won’t take action because you’re not programmed that way…… unless of course:
- You’re the type of leader who is open to the possibility that there are ‘i’s in your leadership team who might be feeling different stuff to you – stuff that might be impacting upon their performance and results.
- You’re the type of leader who is so focussed on ‘the goal’ that you’ve never actually considered the possibility that there are ‘i’s in your leadership team who might be feeling different stuff to you – stuff that might be impacting upon their performance and results.
The Charisma Model Programme creates a collaborative team culture by breaking down silos, and by challenging preconceptions, self-sabotaging patterns and unhelpful attitudes. Our methodology is not for everyone, but if you would like to find out how we are helping organisations to increase engagement by improving leader's ability to engage and collaborate, then why not give us a call?
"The best teamwork comes from people who are working independently towards one goal, in unison."
James Cash Penney