Team Leaders Motivate Your Teams!

Leading emotionally intelligent teams is a tough job. Developing your skill is worth it as teams strong in EI are productive, creative and loyal to their organization. Building team motivation is a key strategy for success so team leaders maximize their own success by implementing the 7 motivation actions.

Before you implement any of these steps, think about someone who did a great job leading a team you were on. How did he/she motivate you? How did he/she engage and follow through? Now with a good example in mind ask:

  1. What are the characteristics of the team members on the team I’m leading? Know your team members individually.

Get to know your team members individually and help them know each other through a personality assessment such as Change Style Indicator or the Influence Style Indicator. You’ll be amazed at how much good data supports understanding team members’ preferences. With this information, you can strategically target your requests to gain the best buy in.

  1. What’s my team good at? What are their challenges?

Understand your team strengths and weaknesses with the TESI®. The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®, is a team 360 reporting on how team members access their functioning in seven core areas of team engagement. These measurable results help teams focus on how to tap into their skills and improve areas of weakness. You and your team can measure success through the pre-post assessment.

  1. What rings their bells – what dampens their spirits?

Pay attention to the feedback you receive on a regular basis and repeat what works. Utilize your data on individual and team strengths in order to further positive engagement.

  1. How will the team break out of old patterns to awaken creativity and boost spirits?

Creativity is an energizer. Even though some team members may moan about change, when you lead them in purposeful change and have a defined approach and outcomes it will help build new energy and clear out old ways of doing things that aren’t necessary anymore.

  1. What’s your team attitude?

Discuss the power of attitude with your team. Ask team members to explore current attitudes and then set intentions for the attitude they will express in the future. Be specific about who does what so you can notice and affirm positive actions as engagement improves.

  1. What inspires your team members and the team as a whole?

What about giving some time to a worthwhile community project? You and the team could spend an hour at a soup kitchen or a day helping build a house. There are many ways to contribute. Challenge the team to consider options and find a suitable project. After contributing your time get together and debrief. Talk about how it felt, what you learned about your community and what it means to volunteer as a team.

  1. Determine how well your team that functions with emotional and social well-being

The Collaborative Growth team model measures the seven specific skills seen in the outer ring. Your team can take the TESI, consider their skills and opportunities, and engage in intentional growth. The model shows that as teams are deliberately enhancing their skills they develop the benefits shown in the middle circle, such as trust, and then progress to being a team that enjoys emotional and social well-being. This is a highly productive and engaged state which leads to sustainable good results. However, be sure to pay attention to maintaining those skills. High performance requires constant attention.

Influencing for Change in a Divided World

Leaders are role models; people will follow your example.
Is that a good thing?

Divisiveness in the external world is impacting organizational culture. When family members question sharing holidays because they don’t want to hear each other’s differing views, it is certain similar impacts are happening in the workplace. This creates a clarion call for leaders to proactively build an environment that supports connection over separation. We are discussing this vital topic in our webinar.

The source of this sharp discord is often based in value differences and that is what makes many so intransigent. For example, if someone believes it’s only right if people are treated X and someone else says no X – 3 is plenty for some people, emotional responses will be triggered. It’s likely both perspectives can be well argued, but they are hard to hear for the person disagreeing. This can lead to cliques and factions just when you need people to spark creativity in one another because they can think differently. What can a leader do?

Leaders need to start with evaluating their workforce and organizational culture. However, before they can evaluate others, leaders must first be personally accountable. Ask yourself how attached you are to your point of view and your opinions – are you open to hearing very different perspectives? When a position is important to you, can you listen and have a coherent discussion with a colleague or staff person who disagrees? Or do you just walk away? Leaders are role models; people will follow your example. Is that a good thing?

Now discern how your workforce is doing by reaching out and actively listening. You might create a task force to lead the effort. Ask questions and take notes in order to respond.

How are you and your team mates getting along?”

Are you having full discussions or do you stop in order to avoid conflict?”

Are there people here you’re avoiding that you used to work well with?”

On a scale of 1-10 where is our trust level riding these days?”

Give them a sense of how you see issues being discussed, and tell them how you feel. “I feel ___ because _____.” Then actively listen and role model how to respond to one another. “It sounds like maybe you feel ___ because ______.”

Talk about what you are learning while using all your smarts – IQ and EQ. if there’s an elephant in the room, expose the discord in a manner that keeps the conversation safe for exploration. That means that above all else everyone is treated with respect. Leaders are responsible for insisting on a safe environment that maintains the value that while disagreements happen, there can also be very solid areas of agreement. You want your staff to be able to move on from the difficult conversation and continue their work together with a willingness to listen and share.

Once understanding is gained on workforce connectivity, leaders need to guide the desired change that can expand collaboration over separation. In doing so, success requires understanding the personalities of leaders and staff related to making changes. Data helps guide strategically targeted interventions. The Change Style Indicator® (CSI) identifies three styles of change. Through this assessment people find they are Conservers (prefer to accept the structure and make incremental change), Pragmatists (will explore the structure and support change that is functional), or Originators (comfortable with challenging the structure and preferring expansive change). These are big differences, and it is quite possible all preferences are represented in your workforce. To implement the change successfully people preferring each of the change approaches need to be brought on board. Without doubt, it’s tempting to say “Just do it!” The problem is that quick dictate can’t change internal states that are leading to the divisiveness. A defined viable path needs to be created. The foundation of change is strengthened with mutually agreed values, such as everyone deserves to be respected. Then use flexibility to gain buy-in and changed behavior from the whole staff through process that influence change and show how with emotional intelligence skills.

Throughout this process leaders are influencing people to change their behavior. No one can make someone else hold different values or communicate differently. What leaders can do is invite changes, demonstrate the inclusive language, hold staff accountable and use many other strategies to influence success. Once again, data helps. The Influence Style Indicator™ guides leaders and staff to understand the approaches they now use and to recognize how to expand their repertoire of influence strategies. Leaders charged with building rapport and engagement need to select influencing approaches that walk their talk. Two orientations are possible – advocating or uniting. Then having chosen the overall approach the specific styles a leader might employ are rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring and bridging. It is easy to argue that for a change such as building collaboration through improved communications and patience that inspiring and bridging are the best strategies. However, use caution in narrowing your style. Check out the preferences in the workforce. For example, sometimes assertiveness is required to set boundaries for what is acceptable.

Emotional intelligence skills contain the wherewithal to actually make the changes once leaders have selected their change and influence strategies. Making cultural shifts of this importance can well call on all 16 skills of the EQi. The most impactful are:

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Assertiveness
  • Optimism – and Happiness

These are skills that can be learned, sharpened and tailored to specific circumstances. Many of our books and other articles show you how.

Demonstration of super respect, with reciprocity, makes the fundamental difference. This introduces new awareness and connectivity. Successful leaders will use their skills to understand the diversity of their workforce and how to approach change and influence their staff and co-workers. Then they will apply emotional intelligence skills to accomplish the desired behavioral change.

Resilient Leaders Shine Despite Adversity

Marcia Hughes
©ATD2016, published May 2016

abelincolnPresident Abraham Lincoln remains a model of transformative leadership
more than 150 years after he served as the 16th president of the United
States. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—a great constitutional
and political crisis. Throughout his presidency, he was focused on his
vision of maintaining the unity of the nation with unwavering passion, yet was
able to exert high flexibility and impulse control in the strategies he employed.
He took time to listen well, seek out and consider diverse feedback, and was
willing to shift his strategies. No one had time during the Civil War to talk about
change management, yet that was the order of the day. Lincoln is one of our
best resilience teachers.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Resilient-Leaders

Emotional Intelligence: A Leader’s Prime Asset

leadership-upIsn’t it wonderful that one of our most important assets as a leader is something which we can improve? Emotional Intelligence (EI) predicts between 27% and 45% of job success, while IQ predicts only 1% to 20%, with the average being 6%. With a healthy combination of awareness and positive intention, we can improve our emotional smarts in the workplace – and in our personal lives. Research shows that one of the most valued assets sought in employees is common sense – and that’s the stuff EI provides. The five key categories of emotional intelligence are: self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making, and stress management. Each of these five areas includes three skills for fifteen skills at the heart of the model with an additional skill of happiness is added as an overall barometric indicator of EI. Thus 16 skills are measured to find the details of one’s current emotional intelligence. An action plan can be developed once an individual has this information, supporting growth in any desired area. Performance in these skills drives effective performance and predicts job and life satisfaction.

Of the prominent EI measures available, the EQi (Emotional Quotient Inventory) has the greatest body of scientific data supporting that it is an accurate and reliable means of assessing emotional intelligence. Thus, it was the measure used by the Center for Creative Leadership in its research that documents the importance of emotional intelligence in leaders. They also found the reverse – that low EI is related to career derailment and difficulty in making changes. EI predicts 40% of the variance in effectiveness in teams. Clearly, this is an asset worth growing! Application of the EQi by the U.S. Air Force demonstrates the financial power of this information. The exceptionally high turnover rate of recruits was changed by finding that recruits who scored well in 5 skills on the EQi – assertiveness, empathy, happiness, self-awareness and problem solving, were 2.7 times more likely to succeed. By using this instrument to find those who are right for this position, the Air Force retention rate has been increased by 92%, saving an estimated $2.7 million in 1998 dollars. Needless to say, when Congress got wind of this success they said “Do more!”


Building Team Resilience Through Positive Mood

“Pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about

other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.”

Barbara Fredrickson


Positive attitudes on your team will build resilience and impact every dimension of team work. Positivity will impact how well people get along with one another, how pleased they are to be on the team, their motivation and their creative thinking. That is why this is one of the seven team competencies of the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®). In her books Positivity and Love 2.0, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson provides the scientific grounding to prove the power of positive engagement. Probably because most of organizational work is accomplished through teams, we are finding a tremendous thirst to better understand what this means for teams and how to assist teams in growing their positive mood.

Positivity is central to the ability to collaborate, which is based on the ability to work jointly with one another, to listen to different perspectives and to find common answers. Collaborative Growth’s team model demonstrates how we bring team emotional and social intelligence competencies together to create collaborative intelligence. One of the easiest team strengths to build is positive mood so take advantage of this and build your team skills.

Developing teams is a complex challenge that never stops requiring positive and proactive attention. One of the challenges to team effectiveness is the tendency for people to think and act individually and objectively, that is to focus on the task rather than each other. Busy team members can become so externally focused on projects and customers that they forget to pay attention to their personal needs or those of the team. This lack of internal team focus can occur for several reasons:

  • Addressing interpersonal relationships can seem much less controllable or scientific and less predictable and thus too uncertain;
  • Team members may not be trained to be good at team or human dynamics, they enjoy being an expert and they aren’t expert in this field;
  • Their external focus in getting all the jobs done may leave them drained with little energy left for the team; this is often compounded by highly demanding organizational politics;
  • The team leader may be an expert in his/her production world but likely is not trained to be a team leader and to manage complex interpersonal situations and to build motivation while maintaining accountability; and
  • The full organization may not be aware of the challenges their teams are experiencing nor understand how they could support the team in effective change.

Thus, intentional effort to build a team’s positivity and resilience is needed to get the most from your team.

Art Aron, a human relations scientist, conducted research that shows how people move from a sense of separation – me and you – to a sense of being together – us or we. His research was done with couples, but the same principles apply to teams, which are a group of people working together to solve problems. The more overlap the individual team members see between each other, the more likely they will have a sense of “us” and that leads to a series of positive results. In turn, this increased connection leads to helpful responses among team members that build trust as team members learn they can rely on considerate and supportive responses from one another. Most people will say they agree with the maxim that “All of us are smarter than one of us.” Understanding the effects of positive mood helps show us how to act that way, not just say it.

Fredrickson writes that positivity broadens one’s view from “me” to “us” and then to “all of us,” not just the part of the group that looks or thinks like you. Thus building positive attitudes within your team will expand the effectiveness of your diversity efforts. We often talk about emotions being highly contagious and that is so for positivity, just like it is for negativity. This makes it important for team leaders as well as all team members to be intentionally positive. Fredrickson explains that “positivity spreads because people unconsciously mimic emotional gestures and facial expressions of those around you … positivity breeds helpful, compassionate acts.” Furthermore, she points out that when we act positively with others we are likely proud of our engagement and “pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.” (Positivity, pp. 69-70) This is a goal all organizations have for their teams.

Building Team Resilience and Positive Mood

resilience_meterppt-3levelsResilience and positive mood are closely connected. Resilience includes the ability to bounce back and relies on teams having a reserve to tap into when big challenges hit. That reserve is built by how team members treat each other and what they expect of one another. The more positive members of a team are, the deeper the reserve and the less often they are likely to need to tap into it. Positivity builds perspective so teams take challenges in stride rather than making them a big deal that expands stress instead of resilience.

Tips and Strategies

Use emotional intelligence to grow your teams’ positivity and resilience. Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance are two key competencies in the TESI that build team resilience. Of course while the team is building these competencies, they will find that some team members are more positive than others so the team leader needs to work with the whole team while respecting the differences as the team builds composite resilient strength. Tips for success include:

  • Build the habit of finding people doing something well and publicly thank them. This can be implemented by the team leader as well team members.
  • Start team meetings with a discussion of something that has worked well recently. Then the team can move to strategic analysis and can proactively cross map that skill that success reflects to other requirements.
  • Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team. Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
  • Find purposefulness in the team work so the team feels the sense of being a part of something bigger than itself. A traditional way to do this is with Mission, Vision and Values statements. Make sure those statements are meaningful and that the team feels ownership and pride or they won’t help.
  • Support team members in taking time to be relaxed with each other so the connections are built resulting in the natural desire to get one another’s back when needed.
  • Respond to comments made by one another. People want to be heard more than they want to be right. Applying skills such as active listening and empathetic responses will help people feel acknowledged and valued and that builds positivity and engagement.
  • Intentionally tap into the team wisdom. Your team knows what they need, however you may need to facilitate their recognizing and employing that wisdom. Take creative brainstorming time to explore topics such as: “What works that we can expand?” and “What do we want that we can influence?”

Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand as positivity supports deepening relationships. Develop positivity deliberately and expansively for the benefit of all individuals, teams and the organization.

Coaching Leaders & Teams to Grow Conflict Resolution Skills

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

We are often asked to work with leaders, staff and organizations to guide them in improving their conflict resolution and communications skills. It is an honor to have this opportunity, one we don’t take lightly. Our intention is to facilitate a transformative process that results in sustainable behavior change. Reaching that long term goal requires investment by the individual, team or organization and the coach/facilitator.

Make no mistake about it; this is about making significant change and usually from deeply imbedded habits. Change is Hard Work – it’s possible yet it requires focused commitment and practice. Coaching individuals & teams to change, grow and produce requires:

  • Understanding (the cognitive part)
  • Commitment (the inspirational part)
  • Practice (the determined part)
  • Feedback (the collaborative part)

Success is built through following our four step process to improving conflict resolution skills. If sustainable change is desired, none of these steps can be missed and the dimensions of understanding, commitment, practice and feedback must be interwoven throughout the engagement.

Step One: Diagnosis and Willingness

The first step is making the decision to seek coaching and facilitation to help an individual or team to improve their conflict resolution and communication skills. You’ve heard the maxim that a stitch in time saves nine. However, it’s likely that by the time this decision is made there’s considerable challenge. Nevertheless, build these skills as soon as possible, the earlier you can intervene the better, even if you only save four stitches instead of nine.

At the beginning we normally ask the participant(s) to take one or two assessments, the EQi for individuals and teams will take the TESI or both the EQi and the TESI. All individual responses are confidential and used only to support development. This allows the participants and the coach to have data on the current state of skills and competencies and to highlight both areas that need to be improved as well as existing strengths that can facilitate the change process. The EQi2.0® reflects one’s overall well-being and ability to succeed in life. It explores the role that sixteen different elements of emotional well-being play in one’s life, by applying the fifteen skills in this model together with happiness as an indicator of emotional and social well-being. How one uses skills such as assertiveness, empathy, impulse control and optimism significantly influences their communications and conflict resolution success.

The TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) is an internal 360 which measurers the team’s performance on seven team competencies including communications, conflict resolution and stress tolerance. Team members rate the team’s performance and then the aggregated results are presented to the team, with each individual’s scores remaining confidential. This allows team members to speak frankly with one another and quickly advances the discussion to building a successful action plan.

Willingness to honestly review current behaviors and results is central to making meaningful change. Fortunately, we don’t need 100% willingness at the beginning. There needs to be agreement to participate, however the vigor with which the participant(s) engage usually expands over time. As they perceive the possibility that they don’t have to stay stuck in this uncomfortable pattern and gain a sense of safety and trust in the process, willingness to make change usually grows significantly.

Step Two: Recognition and Ownership

Before a person buys into making personal change, he/she must recognize that the current way isn’t working. They need to take ownership of their own behavior and how that contributes to the difficult situations. At first it seems much easier to blame someone else – “It’s my bosses fault” or “It’s my team member’s fault” or “My organization doesn’t give us enough resources or time to do it right.” There could well be some truth in any of these statements, but they are not the point of the individual’s power. We can only change ourselves. Yet, fortunately, our changed behavior often leads to different responses. If an individual who used to create difficult conversations instead responds with collaborative invitations to work together, they are likely to receive a different response, although it may take a few times before the change is trusted.

Others, such as the team or organizational system likely contribute to the challenges. Often one person is treated as the Identified Problem yet it’s really a systemic issue. Frequently, the individual does contribute significantly to the difficulties occurring; however, they are very seldom alone in creating the difficulties. Thus in individual coaching we need to work with the individual to take full responsibility for their behaviors and to embrace learning to be more successful. Additionally, it is very useful when we also work with the team leader, the whole team or other key individuals to address how they are working together. Nevertheless, even if the others in the process won’t participate in recognizing and making changes, the coaching can be significantly beneficial for the individual. They will still gain skills that improve their engagement, are likely to enhance their productivity and reduce the negative feedback they receive. Sometimes these benefits play out more effectively in new situations rather than the on-going challenge area. The benefits of these behavior changes are certain to impact both their professional and personal lives as conflict shows up everywhere.

As a part of the recognition, the participant(s) need to understand what their challenges are as they respond to conflict. Are they avoiding, aggressive, or unreliable in that they don’t follow-through? These can be challenges for anyone, however, the problem to the team and organization is multiplied when these are challenges are held by the team leader. Then many people suffer the consequences of their poor conflict management.

Step Three: Learning New Behaviors

This is the role up your sleeves and build new habits time. It involves are four components of understanding, commitment, practice and feedback. As the cognitive awareness is developed of what occurs when their responses are curt and perfunctory, and the participant(s) become curious about what else they could do, we are starting to build commitment, the inspirational part. This is quite important to supporting the determination needed to start practicing the new ways. Finally, feedback will help to in fine tuning their approach, learning the right nuancing and getting it right. Both introverts and feisty people may not want to respond to feedback. This reluctance comes from different reasons, but can have the same consequences of not building the new relationships needed. Thus part of the coaching we do focuses on how to work with feedback as they begin using their new skills.

Key skills from the EQi that particularly influence conflict resolution skills are: impulse control, empathy, assertiveness, problem solving, flexibility and optimism. All 16 skills are influential because of the complexity of working with conflict, but these 6 are at the core of effective functioning with conflict. Let’s say that Jill has taken the EQi, which reports lower scores in impulse control and empathy. She talks over people, responds hastily, is highly judgmental and will tell her direct reports abruptly how they are failing, but seldom offers solutions or helps them make changes. She seldom recognizes their successes. You can imagine that it’s hard working on her team.

Circle-of-EmotionShe has come to us for coaching on how to improve her work with her direct reports because her performance review calls out these ineffective behaviors. First, we will help Jill understand the process of working with emotions as reflected in this graph that shows the circle of emotions. We would work with Jill to understand the consequences of her approaches, build her optimism that she can change and help her understand how valuable that change will be. Next we will work with her to articulate specifically how she is interacting with her direct reports. Together we will diagnose the trouble spots so new approaches can be identified and practiced. For example, if a direct report is speaking she needs to not rudely interrupt, but listen and then respond. Jill can create reasonable boundaries up front to let them know she only has five minutes before her next meeting if necessary, and then set a better time to fully deal with the matter. There are many specific and concrete skills that she can begin applying that can greatly change her success.

If Jill’s team is also involved we will have them take the TESI and work with them on how they are participating in resolving conflict, which will necessarily include other competencies, especially communications. Through this process we can build enhanced resourcefulness throughout the team. As everyone gets better at working through difficult issues, the team’s success will improve and Jill’s changes can be more effective and likely will be more appreciated.

Step Four: Implementation – Practice, Fine Tune, Practice

PIE color whole tagThis is the follow through stage that requires diligence and has the most positive payoffs. It involves the components of commitment, practice and feedback. A key part of coaching is to help pace the process of change so that her work builds her success and isn’t so overwhelming that the changes aren’t practiced. In our example of Jill we will encourage her to practice some changes, get feedback and then fine tune her approach. As a few changes start working and become natural, we can work on new and perhaps more transformative changes. Deliberate steps and managing the magnitude of what she is asked to do will promote and anchor her success.

Overall, investing in leader, staff and team improvements in working through difficult challenges can be quite effective. Building effective buy-in to the process from all parties greatly contributes to success. It is valuable to make a sufficient investment so that all four stages are implemented.

Generative Discussions by Boards Create Shared Meaning

“It’s not the rules and regulations.  It’s the way people work together.”

Jeffery Sonnenfeld

In his article “What Makes Great Boards Great” Sonnenfeld (HBR, September, 2002) researched many of the structural ideas of what differentiates great boards from other boards and found it’s not the structure, such as financial literacy, age, attendance or professional skills that’s the success differentiator, rather it is the social system the board has established.  He discusses a virtuous cycle of respect, trust and candor that establishes well-functioning teams, including boards.  “What distinguishes exemplary boards is that they are robust, effective social systems” according to Sonnenfeld.

Becoming effective social systems requires that Board Directors individually, as well as the Board as a whole, use well developed emotional and social intelligence skills.

In addition to developing your Board’s effective social system, it’s critical to choose the best format for your discussions in order to be effective leaders.  Many Boards are aware of the need to attend to fiduciary and strategic decisions, but there’s a third leg to the stool required when Boards intend to truly be leaders for their organizations.  They need to help frame the issues, to do the creative work up front that selects what will get organizational attention and how the issue will be approached.  They need to be leaders in creating the focus on key matters to be addressed, not just respondents to decisions by others in the organization.  Asking how Boards and its Members can be more effective leaders is likely to cause a reframe of how a board’s performance is defined.

In Governance as Leadership, Chait, Ryan and Taylor (2005), present an excellent discussion on board engagement and performance tied to the strength of using this three part Board process.  They point out the truth that many Board Members struggle with finding a useful way to feel they are making a meaningful contribution.  Part of the problem is that too often Board Members don’t understand the Board’s purpose.  If they can’t articulate the difference the Board is making for the organization, it is impossible to feel that their time is being meaningfully spent.  And they certainly won’t feel like they are contributing as leaders who are making a difference.

A key to bringing Boards into the leadership tent is ensuring that generative discussions are a fundamental part of the Board engagement.  This requires adopting a three part modality to Board decision-making. The three formats pictured in this triangle are each valuable and distinct formats for Board governance.


Generative Mode: Generative discussions come first, before the data is marshalled into a particular fashion to support an action.  This is the fuzzy time of exploring what’s going on.  It’s a subjective process that occurs through the opportunity for open, interactive dialogue.  It occurs well before making the decision on what to do.  Rather, generative discussions call for dynamically and interactively exploring the process, factors, and pieces of information around a big topic that eventually come together by framing the problem.  The Board acts as a robust social system with emotional engagement in the consideration at hand.  There is sufficient shared knowledge to work together with the CEO and leadership team and make sense of the topic so it can then move forward to be resolved through strategic and fidicuary decision-making.  This is the first step in shared leadership. If the Board is not involved in this step of meaning-making it’s leadership role is significantly compromised.

Fiduciary Mode: In this familiar mode the Board acts as a overseer of resources, legal compliance and fiscal accountability.  The Board’s fiduciary responsibilities are sometimes phrased as having a duty of care to quality and financial decisions, a duty of loyalty to being legally responsible and compliant and a duty of obedience to the purpose and mission of the organization. I would also add that there’s a duty to provide leadership, which calls for the generative conversation.

Strategic Mode: The board acts as a strategic partner to the CEO and senior leaders setting a course of action and priorities and goals against which performance can be monitored.

Generative Dialogue

Having a strong sense of purpose is likely the strongest motivator leading to successful Boards and its Directors.  Knowing what the purpose of the Board is allows Directors to guage their own success as a Director and to focus their time and efforts towards what matters most.  The Board is then a co-participant with the CEO and senior leadership in being a sense-maker or meaning maker.  Thus the Board is

not just told X + Y = Z but X and Y are occuring, let’s explore what this means and how to proceed.  As an example, for a hospital, that can mean the Board, CEO and physicians engaging in thoughtful and open discussions about what the massive changes in healthcare mean to physicians and their role in healthcare.  They can explore the most effective ways to build newly constructed relationships with a new

sense of partnership.  This gives the Board the power to participate as leaders rather than simply being in the position of approving a move to hire more physicians.  This is an example of sharing the experience of the discussion and through that developing a shared meaning.  With the foundation this conversation creates, the strategic and fiduciary work will flow as solutions are found. Significantly, the Board will be more engaged and have a authentic experience of being purposeful. This also supports the Board’s intellectual capital in being sufficiently developed to support effective Board leadership in the fiduciary and strategic domains.  Very importantly, as Chait points out, the quest is not to focus on a board member’s individual intellect, but rather on the “collective brainpower” that can be channeled into the mutual analysis and robust discussion that lead to effective governance and an experience of shared purpose.

Chait wisely comments,“Generative governance requires a fusion of thinking, not a division of labor.”  Helpful metaphors can be thinking of the board as a “sounding board” with the opportunity for the CEO to work together with the Board to define issues, frame problems and then pursue solutions.  As Chait et al comment, we can imagine the CEO and Board as co-pilots.  Instead of the Board being kept in a narrow role of approving management solutions, the Board plays an active role in defining the problem.

When Boards are engaged together with the Executives to define and resolve the decision, the foundation is laid for the Board understanding it’s role and the purpose of their existence.  This supports the Board creating a robust social system, developing a direct path to using their emotional and social intelligence skills and joining the ranks of the Great Boards.

Facilitation Supports Collaborative Decision-Making


“There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance.
Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.” Warren Bennis

Good facilitators create a curious and safe environment that promotes creative and sustainable decision-making.  Organizations seek facilitation when they value an integrated group process with lasting results.  A well facilitated process focuses on building Collaborative Intelligence™.  When working with Boards and Commissions, it’s important to design a process that support the 3- pronged modes of governance: Strategic, Fiduciary and Generative.  A good facilitator works with the leaders to ensure a well-designed and run event, which can take many shapes and sizes.  It can be an offsite, a retreat/advance, a high conflict resolution session or a discussion by a well-functioning team looking to expand their skills.  There are times we help an organization with employees in conflict select between a facilitated process and a mediated process.  In mediation a neutral third party assists others in arriving at a mutually acceptable decision, but doesn’t add his or her own thoughts to the process.  In facilitation, the facilitator actively assists the parties in brainstorming options and solutions.  It is always important, though, that the decisions are made by the participants.

Collaborative Growth provides facilitation for elected boards and commissions, executive sessions, organizational retreats or advances and employees in conflict.  There are many elements in common for all the processes.  Possibly the most important is that the facilitator elegantly promotes the full participation by all parties.  This calls for guiding those who want to over-participate to pull back on their comments while the facilitator invites the more quiet introverts to share their insights and questions.
At a recent facilitation a participant commented on the great benefit he and others were receiving because of our reading and responding to the non-verbal messages from the team members.  It is important for the facilitator to notice when someone wants to speak, acknowledge that and then remember to give that person the opportunity to speak.  Non-verbal communication can also include indications of discomfort with a topic such that the facilitator calls on the person making his or her participation safe, saying something such as “Jason, give us your thoughts on the challenges or possible concerns with this approach.”

Facilitation benefits include:

  • The comfort for participants is increased because they know they will all receive help in speaking up with balance and respect for one another.
  • The leader can participate as he or she doesn’t have to be in charge of managing everyone else’s participation.
  • A highly interactive and engaging process can occur.
  • The facilitator structures the topics without stifling creativity thus helping the group take time to vet a decision and then consider all aspects of implementing and working with the decision.
  • The facilitator guides the group to apply reality testing to potential decisions and to access if it can get done and by when and to identify and assign responsible parties.
  • The facilitator can help the participants combine their EQ and their IQ.

Good facilitation is welcomed by organizations when done well.  That means it is focused on assisting all parties to participate, reach sustainable solutions and along the way provide assistance in resolving conflict and exploring difficult topics. Curiosity is welcome and promoted.  Imagine what can be created – Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious.”  That’s the attitude to take into a facilitated session.

HOW TO LEAD TEAMS: The Relationship Between Team Skills and Human Development

pie_wedge_pushThe Emotionally Intelligent Team model proceeds from the archetypal process of human work itself. The seven scales measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence® Survey) are core skills for teams as they reflect specific needs that have arisen over the course of human evolution.

1.  Stress Happens — we arrived as infants desperately needing a breath of fresh air, then warmth, then food, and the whole range of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Everything that interrupts the satisfaction of these needs is experienced as some degree of stress, and yet a certain amount of stress is necessary to keep us from sinking into complacency. Developing the awareness and focus necessary to successfully meeting these needs gives us our concrete task orientation skills. Successful teams need the resilience that comes from Stress Tolerance skills.

2.  Life is hard, but we are naturally motivated to relieve instinctual drive states in order to improve our life conditions. Successful team leaders help their staff connect with and utilize this natural motivation rather than employing the command and control strategies that disrespect the individuality that gives rise to motivation. A major component of successfully modeling this understanding lies in the leader being able to distinguish between what the team members move towards, what they move away from, and what we move against. Building Motivation, for example, calls for the leader to move the team towards the reward of being acknowledged for a job well done. The leader realizes they will move away from embracing a new task if the necessary resources aren’t provided and that the team will become oppositional if they see team members being treated disrespectfully by the team leader.

3.  Because it is too hard to hunt effectively alone, we learn to Communicate in order to coordinate and maximize group efforts. We learn to develop our trust and relationship skills from the model communicators we encounter in our early world. the key lies in how well we send and receive meaningful signals from one another.

4.  Communicating effectively is a difficult process in itself, and there are many opportunities for misunderstanding which give rise to conflict. Then our challenge becomes a matter of how we get people to change: from no to yes; from “I” matter to “we” matter, from “I want to be right” to “I want to be happy.” These are core skills for Conflict Resolution.

5.  In order to resolve conflicts we need to be sensitive to what others desire and value and expect for their efforts as well as how they actually achieve those goals. This is where the team tunes in with Emotional Awareness.  To really be able to hear and appreciate their various positions requires the empathy, respect, and active listening that enable others to perceive us as trustworthy. Only then can we be open enough to achieve the atmosphere of spontaneous mutual influence that yields maximum benefits.

6.  Communicating effectively in the avenues of both task and relationship builds a powerful sense of Team Identity  in which teams feel free to risk and experiment, repeat what works and celebrate the results and build traditions and innovative new solutions. The value of belonging to such a team is the source of the leader’s ability to hold members accountable.

7.  Positive  Mood is the evidence of our collective success in satisfying individual and group life conditions. This is an important time and space of reaffirmation, rest, and recharging, because new stressors are no doubt just around the corner.

Teams Getting Beyond Doing More with Less

Teams are encountering the request or demand to do more with less all too frequently. How do they respectfully re-direct expectations to gain more success in meeting productivity expectations while building their own team emotional and social intelligence? We’re the first to acknowledge that it isn’t easy. However there are strategies to support success. We discussed many in our recent webinar and will review many here.

First, as Dick Thompson, the publisher of the TESI® noted, teams under stress start focusing more individually and less on the team as a whole, which negatively affects the team’s ability to process information. Interpersonal issues between team members are often heightened, conflict is more likely to arise and can be harder to resolve and the sense of well-being is reduced. Working with the seven team skills measured by the TESI (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) provides teams and their leaders with a powerful model to support their success. Each skill is identified together with a tip or tips for building team strength in addressing the stress of being asked to do more with less.

Team Identity is a skill that supports a sense of connection instead of the isolation stress can bring and that in turn helps teams better respond to management pressure effectively. Teams can build their skills by taking charge of some of their time together and have fun. When they get to know each other better, they can work on the same wave length, resolve challenges quicker and be more relaxed. So go to lunch together, go for a walk, or have a regular celebration for birthdays of the month. If your team ever is challenged by management for taking the time, respond that neuroscience shows that taking some breaks supports much more productivity.

Team Motivation gets the team geared up to meet the challenge they face. However, challenges must be reasonably designed so the team has a chance to be successful. If too much is asked the team becomes demotivated because they’re set up to fail. Part of the answer comes from the team finding their bigger “yes”. When they find what is more important they gain strategic perspective, it’s easier to communicate to one another and to management.

Team Emotional Awareness helps team members recognize what’s happening so they can respond to one another and to the situation. When they learn to name the stress and pressures out loud, team members can then discuss their feelings, hopes and worries. They become aware of how to support one another and do so more effectively with the opportunity to release at least some of the tension.
Team Communication is essential in so many ways, for example in applying their reality testing skills. When team members communicate they can discuss how many expectations are on their plate, lay out a strategic plan and propose direction to management to guide their mutual work. This can mean realizing there just aren’t enough resources to tackle all the tasks on their plate. They can show why and suggest the best course of action. Teams often lump everything they need to do under the concept of communications. This clouds the clarity that comes from recognizing communication touches all their skills, but can be separated from the other six TESI skills.
Team Stress Tolerance skills are central to addressing the challenge of being asked to do more with less. One core set of strategies comes with managing their physiology. For example, they can practice exhaling as long as they can, which shifts their conscious attention away from their overheated cognitive circuits. This easy strategy “refreshes their mental screens”. They can practice stair therapy – go climb one or more sets of stairs if possible before making a key decision or confronting someone. They can take a walk together, which is a great way to get to know one another and supports quicker team work when back at the office.
Team Conflict Resolution calls for teams to develop more collaborative solutions that strengthen their productivity and persuasive ability with management. Teams might perform a SWOT analysis on key activities, brainstorm how to make one or two meaningful changes, implement and then check back in in a few weeks. Incremental change is more sustainable and empowering than extreme makeovers!
Team Positive Mood gives the team energy, enhances happiness and better decision making. It’s at the center of developing real team agility. This brings us full circle by connecting with the idea under team identity of taking time to play. It can feel highly counterintuitive when the team is under pressure. Nevertheless, taking time out provides perspective and supports well-being at all levels.
How are your teams managing their challenges of being asked to do more with less? Let us know!