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Leadership for Collaborative Teams

team building, group discussion or therapyThis past weekend, my partner and I hosted a ‘fiesta dinner party’ for family that included chips and guacamole, re-fried beans and fajitas, margaritas, and sangria topped off with an ice cream toppings bar!  Besides being a time of connection, I was in observance of the ‘team’ we all have become, playing to each other’s strengths, collaborating to create a fun and enjoyable evening together.  My partner and my sister love to cook and collaborated in preparing the fiesta.  My strength is in the arranging and organizing, so I had my time to shine prior to the event and during clean-up.  (I can clean and organize a kitchen before the group even realizes I have removed their plates from the table.)  My son did the heavy work — getting umbrellas in the tables outside and moving tables and chairs around.  His wife, her parents and my mom kept the conversation moving with great stories.  I have come to see story telling as a true strength and skill that really adds to a group’s dynamic.

I paint this picture because collaboration in a group or team dynamic is not just found in the workplace.  In all areas of my life, I experience collaboration — whether it is through a dinner party, a child/parent relationship, a community group, or in my life’s work.   Below are some key lessons I have learned for demonstrating leadership in collaborating that are easily transferrable to any group:

Be Authentic

  • Courageous Vulnerability.  It takes courage to stand fully in who you are, what you believe and value AND at the same time be open to the differences in the whole.
  • Trust through Action.  Our behaviors often speak louder than who we say we are.  If you show up late at events, meetings etc., it may be difficult to ‘trust’ that you respect others’ time.  Leadership in collaboration challenges us to check how we are showing up and if that is in alignment with our words.

Appreciate Differences

  • Expect Conflict!  That doesn’t mean fighting, it means that people will have differences of opinions which sometimes may create push-back.  If people are to be authentic, they will have their voice and that is important.
  • Continually Communicate This is ‘the secret’ to high levels of collaboration: continuous communication based on authenticity, appreciating differences and allowing for the conflict will bring the group to consensus.
  • Reach Consensus.  Fighting is demanding ‘a way’.  Conflict combined with continual communication brings about consensus.  We all benefit from consensus as it moves us forward with the strength of the whole.

Play to Strengths

  • When we are in our ‘strengths’ — what comes naturally and easy to us, what we find joy and pleasure in doing — our energy is tenfold! When people are in their strengths (as I described in our dinner party scenario), the outcome is enjoyment, achievement and a sense of ‘job well done’.

Recognize and Reward

  • Say “Thank You” At the end of our dinner party, thank you’s, kisses and hugs were all exchanged.  Everyone demonstrated a recognition and appreciation for our time together.  I realized that time was created by the synergy of eight people, authentically showing up, being completely different in who we are as individuals, playing to the strengths that we each bring to the whole and rewarding each other by recognizing the enjoyment created with a hug and a kiss!  In the workplace you may not be hugging and kissing; however, recognizing someone publicly with a thank you is just as good!
  • Final word on recognition:  sometimes we have to help others ‘recognize’ themselves.  It has been through others recognizing me, helping me to see my strengths and character that I have been lead on my journey to authenticity.   Allow your recognition and reward to support others in seeing the best side of them.

Making Choices: Inside Out or Outside In? Upside or Downside?

Woman Pensive with Coffee Cup 900x600Does that title have your curiosity piqued?  Are you wondering what I am talking about and how these phrases reflect making choices?  Let me first give you the down and dirty formula:

  • Inside Out: from your values, beliefs
  • Outside In: from experiences, perspectives, others’ opinions and advice
  • Upside: from a place of resonance — what is working, what feels natural to you, what feels right to you
  • Downside: from a place of dissonance — what isn’t working, what doesn’t feel right to you

I have read a lot about ‘making choices’ and whether we are better off or not with our freedom of choice.  There is a lot of research available on the subject.  Whether we are better off or not, we are confronted with making choices on a daily basis.  I have not always made the best choices for myself over the years, so I have experimented with my choice making.  What I have discovered is the formula above and thought I would share it with you.

Inside Out

In the context of making choices, taking the options through an inside out perspective means running the options through our value and belief systems.  The easiest way to do this is to ask: What about this option is important to me?  What value is there?  What do I believe about that?  Click here for more on values/beliefs.

You may discover that there are things that are important to you in considering all the options. What, then, do you do?  This is a great opportunity to work on your ‘core’ values and to identify beliefs or perspective.

For example, I was in a situation where I was spending a large amount of time traveling for work. In fact, in a month’s time, I was in the car 40 hours out of the month!  That is a whole workweek!  The dilemma came in when my value for time was being challenged by a value for coaching in-person.  Doing some discovery work, I discovered a ‘belief’ I had that coaching was better face-to-face.  I really had nothing to base this belief on, so I challenged it.  I tried coaching over the phone and discovered that my belief was faulty.  By changing my belief, I was also able to honor my value of time and still deliver great coaching over the phone.

How do those values and beliefs get challenged?  From an outside-in perspective.  Using your daily experiences, others perspectives, opinions and advice you have a well-balanced model to determine what is important to you and what you believe. I value the opinion and advice from others in my life; however, at the end of the day, it is important to check balance against my own value and belief system to make sure I am making choices that are resonant to me.

Which brings us to what I like to call the upside/downside formula for making a choice:   Resonance vs. Dissonance.  I didn’t really start paying attention to my ‘energy’ or ‘emotions’ as a means to directing my choices until I got so sick of living in the ‘shoulds’!  Once I removed that word from my language, I replaced it with a question: “Does this feel resonant to me or not?”  Sometimes my over-self-management would not allow me to tap into my emotions; however, my body would always direct me with my energy.  Was I energized and looking forward to something, or dreading and exhausted?  As I have followed my energy, it has been easier for me to tap into my emotions and do a self-check on my choices.  Sometimes I choose and discover that I am in constant frustration – a sure sign that the choice is not resonant for me.  Oftentimes making the wrong choice and being in that experience reveals dissonance very clearly and will direct you to another choice.

What I have discovered about making choices is when I make an empowered choice that has been run though the inside out/outside in, and upside/downside cross check; I spend less time spinning my wheels and more time enjoying my life.  Try it!