By Jon Patton – June 2021
We’ve created a guide for an experience that can help your team maintain a competitive edge while also increasing productivity. Even in high performing teams, there’s always room for growth and improvement. This guide for next-level transformation is based on a specific set of questions which can increase trust and break down barriers. Some of the other potential benefits from this activity across your team include: more effective performance, better synergy, and stronger camaraderie.
We have all seen shifts in corporate culture and leadership over the years. With trends mainly being positive, companies have looked to empower their people, and leaders have realized the importance of emotional intelligence in effectively leading and inspiring.
If you are familiar with our work, you know we have spent the last three decades assisting companies with creating the culture that unleashes the potential of their people and helping leaders realize that change starts with them. After all, companies and organizations can only move as fast as the personal evolution of their leaders. In other words, companies do not transform, people do; that process starts with the leaders.
I recently worked with a couple of CEOs of public companies and their executive teams. The experience reinforced my understanding of how difficult personal transformation can be and the fact that it is almost impossible for some people. I cannot tell you how many times people have said to me, “Jon, I will not change.”
These CEOs and their teams were not of that persuasion. I gave them an exercise that required them to remove their game-face, shed all vulnerability, and reveal the experiences that made them the people they were – without sparing the good, the bad, or the hard to say.
The exercise was sent to the team ahead of time to prepare. I asked them to reflect on six questions and put together an introduction based on those questions. Then they would share the introduction with their colleagues at the start of our workshop.
I had not intended for this exercise to dominate the workshop; however, the introductions took hours. I was privileged to witness successful people opening up to each other naturally and transparently, and I had reason to feel grateful for what I do for a living.
Although this left me with little time to cover the business end of what I had planned, what followed was a very candid but supportive exchange of viewpoints that sparked progress on issues upon which they had been stuck. The introduction exercise had broken down the barriers preventing them from seeing positive intent and created psychological safety, which allowed for a new honesty. It was as if the personal vulnerability heated the knife, allowing them to slice through challenging topics more easily.
As my colleagues and I work with companies and teams, we observe that most are getting results despite themselves. I mean to say that people behave in ways with their colleagues that increase the difficulty of meeting collective goals. This begs the question – How much more could they achieve if they were communicating honestly, supportively, and with the actual best interests of the organization in mind?
The answer is a lot; it would be transformational. Yet most companies will not achieve the breakthrough because most leaders are not prepared to take the emotional risk and experience the personal discomfort it requires.
This is precisely why the leaders and teams prepared to take on the challenge of doing whatever it takes to become a truly cohesive team will experience a competitive advantage. The teams I mentioned are now unifying against their strategies and accelerating progress as they confront friction points as an essential part of the creative process.
You can access the six questions below and also get tips on putting together a similar experience for your team.