The 5 Biggest Team Killers

People often ask me, as we’re completing exercises in workshops, “Should I answer this as me at work, or me at home?” Well, if we believe we need to truly ‘act’ a certain way to survive or be accepted in either place, that is a tough place to be. We have different voices for children crossing the street versus talking to a friend at a funeral. But changing voices is not the same as changing values. To be authentic, is to be one organism in both our values and our beliefs. As we strive to be authentic to ourselves, it is so troublesome having a split persona or value set in order to deal with a difficult bosses or workload, and yet it sometimes seems like our best option. Being authentic to our values and being less those prescribed by someone else, is what makes a healthy team.   

Our values are drivers of our character and need to be clear and consistent. I encourage people to express answers that take into account their emotional intelligence, core values, and communications skills as more than just work, and not only at home. We are evolving, complex creatures who require study and thought to sort through and identify the real drivers of our purpose and actions.

Want to build a great team, of authentic leaders? Let’s first dissect the top 5 factors killing teams. It is easier to recognize and stop doing these 5 things in order to build greatness:

1. Seeing a snapshot of someone doing something and building their movie.

“See I told you, that guy was no good – I saw him leave early yesterday – he’s lazy!” Really?  And when we do the same thing, maybe it was because we had something really important or personal to do. Why don’t we give others the same break we give ourselves? We are so busy judging others on their actions and yet we judge ourselves on our intentions. We are so anxious to look better through blaming someone else. If we stop making snap judgements of people’s actions – voila! – we become a better, more valuable teammate.

2. Energy Swings

We say we don’t have time, when in fact, we all have the same time. It’s our training and energy available for important conversations that is in question. We often sleep and eat poorly and then struggle to understand why we act in the same manner. Teams eating less sugar and drinking less alcohol perform better. Duh! We are stressed by so many outside factors and the data onslaught that we have to pace ourselves in order to think better. If our energy wanes, our mood swings can be distracting, confusing, and even toxic. One of the easiest ways to kill a team is to overfeed the members or not let them get enough sleep.

We all have bad days, but when every day is an emotional roller coaster, our teammates spend more time figuring out how to side step our moods or avoid upsetting us rather than focusing on doing their best work. I’ve learned the best solution to a bad mood is to focus less on my needs and focus more on being grateful and serving others.

3. Extroverts Rule

Sometimes in presentations, I ask the group, “Should we take a break?” The extroverts yell out, “Not now,” and the whole room follows their loud-mouthed lead. Sometimes being loudest looks like leadership or authority, when in reality neither are being expressed. Yet the extroverts can control people and outcomes. We need norms of behavior to make in-group decisions and establish fairness. Introverts are thinking, planning, and reflecting – the more critical talents to great decision making. Allowing extroverts to rule even the simplest decision sets the stage for them to further control more important decisions.  And that is a bad precedent indeed.

4. Fear of being shamed

This is one area where leaders can make a huge impact! Make “learning from mistakes” part of your organization’s culture. When employees fear failure, they don’t choose the best option. They choose the safest one. How do you react when one of your employees drops the ball or makes a mistake? Help them see how they can avoid the same mistake again by teaching them how to learn from it.

5. Consensus building, has collapsed many a team

In some cultures conformity has precedence over independence. American business is seen as more aggressive, risk taking, and forward thinking, and much less a blame game. Consensus for some teams, while seeming so important, can actually slow things down. Everyone should have a voice and behind the closed doors of confidentiality, be encouraged to express an opinion. If those outlying opinions are not expressed, the team goes down a popular, yet misdirected path. We must be able to flex and allow various opinions and lean into a majority vote, versus trying to reach a consensus in the interest of moving forward. We all think of the oak tree as the strongest in the forest – so we all unite behind the common momentum in the room. But the strongest tree, through the storms of business, is actually the willow. If we rule like oaks, we break in the storm. Be the flexible willow tree instead and move from surviving to thriving. When we discourage creativity or individual opinions, we end up settling for the path chosen by group-think, not great think!

Strive to create a safe environment where every opinion and idea has value.


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