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Enabling culture change with leaders and teams to sustain inclusion, innovation and high performance

How teams learn to be highly effective

by | Aug 5, 2021

A effective, diverse business team

In my work facilitating behaviour change from within teams, I have learnt that what helps a team become highly effective is when team members can acknowledge their ‘journey’.

That may sound ‘soft and fluffy’ or even completely irrelevant, and I am often asked how someone’s ‘journey’ has anything to do with a team becoming highly effective or even enabling a high-performance culture.

Acknowledging individual change as a foundation 

There are many ways to look at this but a perspective that resonates with most people is when I ask them the question, ‘are you the same person now that you were six, twelve or even 18 months ago’?

Clearly the question is not a literal one given the topic, but a vast majority of people are thankfully, physically the same.  The vast majority also appreciate that the question is asking them to acknowledge the periods when their lives moved far beyond the routine.

People talk to a huge variety of situations that they have experienced and continue to experience. The last eighteen months have been hugely significant for most, in many ways dictating life in a way which at the very least has been a shared experience of significant disruption.

Within this shared context, the specifics are usually unique to each person, yet people talk to their experiences in a way which acknowledges that they had to think and feel.   

What disruption has enabled

What I mean is that the disruption had to be engaged. Somewhere, somehow, a situation had to be looked at, thought about, and dealt with. For example, who can relate to the collision of work and home, those boundaries just evaporating and how we view that now. And as a result, what we may now appreciate is different, is important, is of real value and just how much has changed.

To this point, I was working with a team in a large corporate and debriefing a session I had just facilitated. The CEO offered up his perspective by saying to me, ‘I just don’t want to get back on a plane and be away from my daughters for weeks. Whilst I have had to deal with so many commercial demands and issues, and think in a completely different way because of that, I have also loved being at home with my family, seeing my daughters grow up into these amazing young women, to enjoy meals together, enjoy time together and simply be there for the good and bad. It has shown me so much of what I am missing, and I simply don’t want to miss any more memories! That is what I have realised, and I now feel is so important to how I live my life. Work will always be there and is a key part of my life but so is balance!

Acknowledging our journeys

That there is the journey, acknowledging how what you have been through, has led you to this point.

Acknowledging the journey allows us to reconnect with the emotional components of our lives. Those times when life will simply not go away and ‘return to normal’ whatever that is!

The disruption encouraged us to feel, so that we can remember how to feel, how to become whole and not so fragmented and disconnected. That to feel is to learn how to be, where balance waits, to help us move, beyond the dominance of fear, through and beyond.

No one ever said that it was easy. Everyone said it was a choice and either way, they learnt something whether they chose to engage or not.

Both were and continue to be powerful teachers in their own way.

But here is my point.

Enabling highly effective behaviours

All of what we have experienced on our journeys, there are aspects of that which are invaluable to a team and how effective it can become.

It cannot be about going back to a way of being, locked in the past. Far too much has been experienced by far too many, for that to be the ideal. Rather, how can teams benefit from each of their individual journeys. From strength, overcoming adversity, tenacity, compassion, trust, resilience, and agility to name just a few. 

Teams learn to be highly effective when each person enables the team. Not simply the leader. That is completely unrealistic simply from a wellbeing perspective.

Rather, enable people to show up, draw on their journey and contribute. Redefine leadership and performance from within the team. That is entirely possible, but it needs a very different approach.

The benefits are significant, for the individual, for the team, for leaders and, for the organisation.

So, what are you willing to change?