Team Building Tips: Connecting to your Purpose

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs “He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.” – Friedrich Nietzsche In our team building workshops, whether we are focusing on leadership, motivation or on how to work better as team, conversations often touch upon “purpose”. Happily, much has been written about connecting to our values and purpose in life and in work. In his book, “The 8th Habit”, Stephen R. Covey wrote about the importance of “finding your voice” as a leader. This involves, among other things, developing their moral sense of a greater right and wrong into a drive toward meaning and contribution. Bill George, author of “True North” and “Authentic Leadership”, presents a strong case for developing leaders and companies that are purpose-driven rather than merely financially oriented. And Daniel Pink, in his book “Drive”, has identified “purpose” as one of the three most powerful motivators in today’s knowledge-based workforce. There is a lot to be said for clarifying one’s own purpose as a leader and in helping employees connect to the purpose of the organization. It is what engages us all in our work and gives our lives meaning beyond the paycheck. Connecting with your own purpose: One of the rarest resources for most leaders is time to reflect. Yet that is exactly what leaders need if they are to be effective, authentic and purpose-driven. We are not talking just about reflecting on experiences and learning from them (although this is good...

Team Building Tips: Seek First to Understand

“Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” –Stephen R. Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Whether we are interacting with family members, clients or members of our work teams, our own assumptions about their intentions and meaning can be one of the greatest impediments to understanding and agreement. In his classic book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, the late Stephen R. Covey describes an approach for helping us to overcome our assumptions and truly understand another person’s point of view. More about the approach in a moment. The assumption trap You may have experienced this situation: you’re in a team meeting trying to come to agreement on a basic course of action when the decision making process stalls. Two people, or possibly two “factions”, just cannot see eye-to eye. Frustrations mount, voices are raised and, in the ensuing chaos, no one appears to be listening. Then it occurs to you: “Are they understanding the other side’s position on this?” In some cases you may find yourself wondering, if they aren’t really saying much the same thing. It can be rather funny but it can be frightening too. As Stephen Covey noted, in our haste to respond with our own ideas, we often substitute our own assumptions for the true understanding that might be gained from a few minutes of listening. It just seems so much easier! But, in the long term, where there is no true understanding of a person’s ideas, feelings and intentions, there can be no true consensus and no true buy-in. In short,...

Team Building Tips: Contribution and Personality Types

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” – Malcolm Forbes How often do you sit in meetings in which one or two people dominate the conversations while many others sit quietly and say nothing? While this can be normal on occasion, it can also indicate that you are not taking best advantage of your team’s diversity. And it may be that personality “types” are playing themselves out in a way that needs to be addressed. When the team leader and team members understand and accept each others’ personality types, everyone can work together to ensure that all ideas are heard and understood. In our teambuilding workshops, we often help participants to take that a bit farther: we want them to first understand that they and their colleagues have different preferences for interacting, then accept that different approaches are OK and, finally, develop strategies to accommodate, even leverage, those differences. Personality Type Inventories There are many inventories available for assessing personality “types”, and most of the popular ones are based on the work of Carl Jung. They include the MBTI, True Colors, Insights, DISC and Identity Mapping. Some are quite complex and require time, persistence and practice to fully apply. Others (and there are many) are less thorough but offer the benefit of simply “opening the conversations” about how we can best communicate and relate as a team, given our differences. I believe there is still a lot of value in the simple approach since it gets the team exploring those differences and deliberating structuring their meetings and interactions to make sure that effective communication happens and that conflict is...