I recently commented here, on the ways to bring teams from a “languishing” to a “flourishing” state. We have seen (http://blog.enablersnetwork.com/2009/11/01/marcial-losada-explains-his-research-for-our-blog-readers/) that, during his research, Marcial Losada could predict the success of their strategy, by observing an executive team’s style of dialoguing: an equal level of external vs. internal focus, similar times spent exploring and advocating and a minimum three to one ratio of positive to negative behaviours were a solid predictor of promising output.
Beat Blaesi, Executive Director for Leadership Development at the Julius Baer Academy, showed me this week an interesting model, offering reasons to why teams may dysfunction:
1.- The main symptom is the lack of trust between team members, due to their incapacity to “lower their guard” and hiding their vulnerability. This lack of authenticity is rapidly “sniffed” by human beings and immediately interpreted as “playing games” and having (indeed) something to hide. This is particularly damning in the “Open Network Economy” we are heading towards (I intend to explore quite a bit around this theme in the near future).
2.- The consequence of this lack of trust is the fear of conflict or the “artificial harmony” that takes the team over. On the contrary, when the team functions following Losada’s prescription, its participants engage into “unfiltered conflict”.
3.- The conflict avoidance provokes the lack of commitment, of which the main symptom is neutrality. People just pretend. On the opposite, an engaged team will commit to a decision and action plan.
4.- The consequence of non commitment is the avoidance of accountability, which translates into average standards for performance, “settling for mediocrity”, silo based measurement (“at least I save myself and my team!”) whereas a flourishing team will actively mind each other’s business and hold each other accountable for delivering.
5.- The terrible impact on business ends up being an inattention to results instead of a focus on achievement of collective results.
Chris Parker with whom I co-authored our latest book studied the behaviours capable of breaking such a vicious cycle and claims they are eight “Value Building Behaviours” (to be compared to Losada’s Positive Behaviours):
- Listening actively, which provides a sense of respect, recognition and importance to my team members
- Asking open questions, which enables them to express and explore more while this shows my interest for their opinion
- Summarizing, which ensures that the discussion doesn’t loose focus
- Supporting, whereby I recognize the merits in at least some aspects of my partners’ views
- Challenging, where I share my doubts, concerns, questions and disagreements
- Clarifying, instead of jumping to judgement and conclusion
- Asking for a time-out when I think we are getting off track
- Reviewing the process of our discussion and asking for/giving feedback about how I behaved towards others and how they made me feel, in order to avoid planting seeds of resentment which will make our next meeting more difficult and tense.
It is not the wrong strategy which destroys business value but inadequate behaviours, which block people, prevent them from opening up, limit their capacity to explore and create, make them defensive and refusing to admit “temporary incompetence” to hide themselves behind their ego and stick to the wrong, value destroying strategy.
Brussels, Courchevel (yes you can work there too) and research work on the impact of the new “Open Network Economy” on strategy, organization and leadership will keep me busy next week. Thank you for your increasing support and for sharing this blog as widely as possible…
 P. Lencioni (2002) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass)
 D. Marlier & C. Parker (2009) Engaging Leadership: three agendas for sustaining achievement (Palgrave-Macmillan)