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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Team Tips - 6 {Ouch - that hurts!}

Here's a team challenge from Christophe T:
I noticed we perform better as a team once we shared our fears, hopes, prides, etc. How can we go vulnerable to our team ?
Contrary to popular belief, and certainly my corporate training, we can't leave our emotions out of the workplace. As human beings it is not possible, as hard as we might try. Nor should we. Both Spocks in the latest Star Trek movie (2009) validate that learning.

We ask, for example, for people to leave their egos at the door as they enter the boardroom meeting. What we truly want is to reduce as much as possible the drama associated with our personal agendas. Irrational behaviour driven by extreme emotion often leads to behaviour well described by the Drama Triangle. In the Drama Triangle the roles of Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer are assumed by those involved in the drama often moving between people as the emotional energy escalates. And that is not productive.

Nor is the emotion attached to grasping for our personal agendas, persisting to have things our way. This easily happens when each individual involved has their own vision of success as opposed to a shared vision among the members of a team. If I am stuck with “My way, or the highway” then we have a dictatorship instead of collaboration.

In fact we could say that without a shared vision a group of people is not a team; certainly not according to our definition in Team Tips - 1. More precisely we can say that such a group might have a common objective but no shared concept of what that actually looks like: what is the picture of the future once that shared vision is achieved.

Accordingly, to attempt to leave emotion out of the equation doesn't work. And you may have guessed already that we have observed that emotion plays an important role in team behaviour. For example, how did Christophe make the observation above? He knows that individuals on Great Teams use the Check In protocol – from the simple tools – to share their emotional state with their team.

Why do the best teams do this? 

  • first: simply in order to provide that information – to make explicit what is implicit in my attitude at that moment
  • second: to give the team some insight into what is driving my behaviours and actions
  • third: to remove the energy from a dramatic scene of possible accusations and rebuttals inherent in the Drama Triangle
  • finally: to declare to the team that in spite of, or along with, or because of that emotional energy, I am still ready to adhere to the Core Commitments and so be fully engaged in the team's activities.

OK?      Are you kidding? !!

At least that is often our instinctive reaction to such a foolish suggestion. I'm not about to be vulnerable to others that way, nor vulnerable in any other way, we say. I'm not interested in having the sharks smell my blood and attack.

But, I'm not talking about swimming with Great Whites. I'm talking about working with your associates, your team, who are all sharing their “vulnerabilities” to some degree as the level of trust between members grows.

If one is courageous enough to share emotion, to open the kimono, to expose his or her thoughts and then does get attacked – obviously or subtly – then, of course, that ends that, and a “team” allowing attacks should be left behind to feed on someone else. Sooner or later they will eat themselves.

Being vulnerable on a Great Team means being open to sharing and receiving information of any type, being willing to listen and learn, being willing to risk being wrong, being willing to change.

And that kind of vulnerability comes from great strength and power.


Christophe Thibaut said...

Great post and great answer!
Did you mean persecutor rather than prosecutor ?

Paul Reeves said...

Yes I did! Thanks for catching that; I've corrected the text.
Cheers, Paul