All blogs of type Thoughts From The Field
When I first heard of Stephen Covey’s passing this summer, I immediately thought of, and expressed gratitude for, one of the concepts from his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that we use regularly in our client work – the circle of influence-circle of concern.
One of the most frequent "aha" moments I've seen in my experience working with leadership teams is around the importance of being a cohesive team and the impact it has on improving the health of an organization. This foundational principle is front and center in Pat's latest book, The Advantage, as well as previous books; most notably, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
The primary reason leaders and organizations have reached out to Table Group Consulting has been because they recognize themselves as having some type of team dysfunction. Pat's book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has been a best-selling business book for years and, certainly, we spend considerable time consulting on teamwork.
Imagine a group of professionals who meet virtually every day to try and resolve the biggest problems our society faces. Now, imagine that same group of people more concerned about the people they represent and their own self–interest than they are about society's most pressing concerns. This is what often occurs in places like Congress and the United Nations. Officials advocate for their own political interests first and foremost, and the greater good takes a backseat.
If you are a sports fan, chances are good that you have seen tension mount between teams to the point that benches have cleared and players had to be restrained by referees and coaches. Perhaps you have even seen players from the same team get angry at each other for losing their cool and jeopardizing a possible technical foul. The one thing you never see is coaches from the same team taking swings at each other. As spectators, we would be appalled if that happened.
They lurk among us. In our office buildings, on the soccer field, in our churches, sometimes even over the phone lines. Their very presence can eat away at your life in ways that very few other beings can. They've been called aggravating, annoying, acerbic (among other words that begin with the letter 'a'), but they've also appeared on the covers of both Fortune magazine and Sports Illustrated, proving that even they can be successful given the right environment. These people roll their eyes when they walk by your office poster exclaiming "There's no I in TEAM". They're the furthest thing from a "Team Player". Yes, these are the "Me Players".
It’s a tough world out there. The economic downturn has become our reality and with it the business environment has grown even more complex, more volatile and more uncertain. We're continuously challenged with what seems like contradictory priorities in our efforts to: generate significant growth while managing costs; create a differentiated customer experience, yet reduce the resources needed to serve the customer; maximize technology to gain efficiencies, but retain that personal touch; standardize, yet customize. And all the while, we struggle to determine how to remain relevant in a world that is constantly changing. Welcome to the “new normal”!
Recently, I was in a meeting with a person who said, “Meetings are such a royal waste of my time; I’d like my job so much better if we could eliminate them altogether.” As he said that, I began to wonder...Would he feel the same way if the meetings he attended were high impact decision-making sessions, where team members engaged in passionate debate and were compelled to make and keep commitments? Probably not.
Just by watching the evening news, it is readily apparent that conflict is ever present in our society. And, the workplace is no exception. For many, conflict brings about a visceral reaction — one that transports people back to the days of tension-filled playground disputes. Consequently, it is easy to draw the conclusion that conflict is negative, should be avoided at all costs, and has no place in the work environment.
Early in my career in the technology field, I was given a statistic that 90% of IT projects fail. Missed deadlines and general disarray seemed to be accepted as the norm. Driven to make my project one of the few success stories, I wanted to try a new approach. I decided to integrate the Five Dysfunctions of Team and Death by Meeting concepts into the project team development process. As the leader, I experienced first-hand the powerful impact of focusing on the project team’s alignment, candor and meetings. Now, as a Table Group Consultant, I am able to share what I’ve learned with others.