If you have been on a team that was firing on all cylinders and performing at an elite level, then you have experienced something magical. The level of output and synergy is through the roof. Everyone is happy, healthy and motivated, while working twice as hard as less developed teams. The elite team conquers seemingly insurmountable tasks with apparent ease. Life is good.
Why is this so UNCOMMON?
Conventional wisdom tells us that great teams exist as the result of an Awesome Leader. Whether born or bread, the awesome leader is a forceful personality. He or she defines a powerful Vision for the team, establishes a Smart Mission, and develops a set of sound Team Values. Then he or she implements important Team Objectives and a compelling Strategic Plan. All this activity is destined to take the team to the top.
Up go the Vision, Mission Statement and Values on the wall in the Team Room. Into the file goes the Strategic Plan, where it starts to collect dust. The team, full of optimism after forming, now starts storming and blundering along, never making it to the top. The awesome leader is deemed a failure, and a new leader is selected.
Rinse, repeat and this scenario is played over and over. What is missing?
Just two thirds of reality, that’s all.
If the leader represents one third of a team’s reality (self), then the followers represent a second third (team) and the organization (system) represents the final third. The integration and development of all three of these crucial elements will propel a team to the top.
Let’s look at how we can integrate these three “spheres” of Self, Team and Organization into an Unbeatable Team.
We will start with an overview of Integral Theory as it pertains to teams.
Reality occurs simultaneously in 3 key dimensions: the “I” dimension, the “we” dimension and the “it” dimension. For purposes of this discussion, we will refer to each dimension as a sphere.
Each sphere represents a distinct perspective that maps our sense of who we are at any given time. For example, if we are sitting alone in deep contemplation, our internal experience represents the “I” sphere, where we are alone with our thoughts, wishes and eternal witness.
When we later show up at work, we are immediately thrust into the “we” sphere, where we are co-located, co-operating (or not) and co-creating with others. Our internal experience is dramatically affected by our relationships and reactions to this shared experience. And so it is with the internal experience of our teammates.
Finally, we cannot ignore the impact of the organizational sphere and its impact on our personal and collective experience. The “it” of our social systems – our organizations, schools, societies, etc. – has a broad and not always apparent impact on the “I” and “we” spheres. The organizational sphere is the result of rigid rules, regulations, norms, systems, and the like.
Imagine the experience you would have living a day in the U.S. Navy. You know what to wear, where to go, what to do, norms for communicating (hand salute!), how much money you will make, and on and on.
Fast forward to your first day of retirement. You are out. Your experience is radically different. The organization of the Navy, which somehow helped define who you were for 20 years, now has no impact on your internal experience besides lingering beliefs and habits. Chances are you will still wake up, but you may not know what to do with yourself!
Hang with me while I peel the onion a few more layers.
The “I” sphere is the world of the interior-individual. This is where you reside inside your head and heart. This sphere is the hearts and minds of the team leader’s and the teammates, or followers, if you will.
In this sphere, the individual consciousness and world view are the driving force. From inside each of us, informed by our level of awareness and consciousness, comes:
- Trustworthiness – powered by our virtuous behavior
- Self-Leadership – we must lead ourselves before leading others
- Personal Mastery – as discussed in the 5 Mountains of SEALFIT articles, the journey of personal mastery is a necessary journey on the warrior’s path
The “WE” sphere is the interior-collective. Here “I” joins with “you” (and “you too”) to become “we.” In “we” there must be:
- Trust – powered by the trustworthiness of the individuals
- Shared Experience – we must experience enough in common to relate
- Shared Risk – doesn’t work if I take all the credit while you take all the risk
- Service – toward your teammates
- Supportive Following
Finally the “IT” sphere is the world of the exterior collective. In “IT” we find various forms of:
- Rank & positional authority
- Command, control & org charts
- Rules and regulations
- Support structures & resource allocation
Elite teams focus on understanding (with a collective world view), developing (active growth of “I” and “We” in a healthy “IT”) and balancing (ensuring that one of the spheres does not stifle or poison the others) all three spheres.
Ultimately, for a team to operate at an elite level, then the three spheres must also be operating at an elite level. Each teammate seeks a strong body, mind and spirit individually while simultaneously seeking a strong collective “body, mind and spirit” of the team. The actions of the leader, followers (supporters) and the systems of the organization must align to make this a reality.
Next week we will analyze how we move from “I” to “We” and forge mentally tough teams with a “no fail” mindset!
Until then, train hard, stay safe and have fun. – Coach Mark Divine
These concepts and many more are taught and executed during our Academies. I am excited to kick off our sold out June 3 Week Academy on the 6th. Don’t miss out on the last 2 for 2011, August and October. There are also 1 Week Academy options- review our calendar online for dates.
Keep in mind that the Kokoro Camps are the ultimate test for mental toughness and fortitude. Come meet yourself for the first time- It’s one weekend that will change your life! Hope to see you there.