Building a cohesive team with conflict

The  understanding of conflict has gotten a bad wrap.  Great relationships need conflict in order to grow.  But I am not referring to destructive conflict with anger, name calling or inability to communicate effectively.

The second behavior in building a cohesive team is conflict and there needs to be productive conflict around ideas, issues or possible decisions.  Patrick Lencioni uses the phrase ideological conflict. “The conflict is limited to concepts and ideas, and avoids personality-focused, mean-spirited attacks.”

When team members have trust that they can be honest with their thoughts and ideas, they can enter into ideological conflict without fear of reprisal. Discussion can be focused on best possible solutions with speed and without concern that someone will leave the meeting with hurt feelings and destructive behavior thereafter.

Teams must remind one another that conflict is necessary for success.   Encourage other members to become comfortable with ideological conflict.  The foundation of a cohesive team is trust, the next level is conflict.


Five Behaviors model_red

Trust is the foundation for a strong team

Trust is the foundation of a relationship.  Whether it is personal or in the workplace, without trust there just isn’t a strong connection.  And without a strong connection to a person or organization, well it doesn’t take a master mind to know that little to no commitment will exist.

The type of trust I am referring to in this article is trust with a team. Patrick Lencioni explains trust is described as vulnerability trust.  When that happens we don’t hide weaknesses or mistakes.  We speak freely and without fear. We don’t waste time and energy putting on airs or pretending to be someone we are not.

At the heart of vulnerability trust lays the willingness of people to abandon their own pride, fear or ego for the collective good of the team.

A survey conducted among 150 SA companies shows that 82% of staff rates a lack of trust as their worst or second-worst problem explains Niel Steinmann, Director of People’s Dynamic Development. (as a side note this is an interesting company/website to spend time reviewing)

Foundation: an underlying basis or principle for something

Trust: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone

Build a strong foundation of trust and take your team to a higher level of success.




Building a cohesive team

Building a cohesive team is easy, but it takes diligence.

Why aren’t there more cohesive teams in an organization?  Because we get caught up in the day-to-day hustle of this and that, the adrenaline rush as Patrick Lencioni defines it.

Many organizations do not concern themselves with spending time and energy on building a cohesive team because it’s not concrete like financial reports, technology initiatives or marketing strategies.

While smart companies need to have these requirements in place for success, the companies that also concern themselves with the health of the organization, i.e., teams that are cohesive, excel.  The organizations where employees really want to go to work each day because they like what they do and who they do the work with, are smart and healthy.

Our journey over the next several weeks will be focused on The 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.  Learn with me on this journey.  Purchase the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.  It’s simple to understand and if embraced will provide improvement and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Next week … the foundation of a cohesive team ~ Trust.

Five Behaviors model_red


Keep it simple and build effective results

The idea for my blog this week “keep it simple” came to me after a friend sent me a picture of his Halloween costume – incredibly simple yet very effective.

This same thread of “keeping it simple” was evident throughout the week.  I spent a great amount of time consulting and facilitating “”The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team”.  Quite similar to the Halloween costume, the behaviors are easy to adopt, but it’s the discipline of demonstrating the behaviors that takes work.

Over the next several weeks I will spend time going in depth about each of the five behaviors.  As you will realize, the difficulty is not the knowledge, it’s intuitive for the most part.

The next time you are faced with simplicity, don’t complicate it.



Tenacity creates victory

The word for this week is tenacity.  It’s what separates the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the could-a, should-a from I did.  This past week tenacity was evident for me, as well as a colleague.

Many years ago a prospect said to me “you certainly are tenacious”.  I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing so immediately after leaving the appointment I looked up the meaning.  Tenacious:  persistent, stubborn,holding fast.  Okay, so I knew that tenacity was a good thing, phew…

Tenacity is necessary to hold on to the vision one has of a desired future.  Tenacity creates momentum towards whatever goal we might have.  When we set our sights on something, tenacity is the key to attaining the success.  Even with all of the organizational construct in place, if you don’t have tenacity then it’s just about worthless.

The success this past week for me was maintaining communication for almost one year with a prospect, finding the balance between staying in touch and not being a haunt.  Tenacity won out, we connected on Friday and have an appointment for this coming week.  The vision of creating an engaged workforce fueled my desire to remain in touch.  I did not let current reality (too busy) overtake the vision of a desired future.

It will be interesting to watch my colleague as she balances current reality (i.e., demanding job) and the desire for a new position outside of the company.  Tenacity will need to be the energy to sustain the vision.

Too many leaders end up running a company that remains status quo because they lack tenacity for the desired future that THEY identified.

As I always do, I searched for examples of tenacity in the workplace; take a few minutes and watch  Tenacity vs Intellect  by co-founder Leonard Brody, he grounds the philosophy I have held for years.

If you have a vision, hold tight and remain tenacious.


Moving from status quo to success

When it feels uncomfortable, you know something new is happening;  a new experience,  new sensation, new outcomes.

This past week I consulted with two individuals that were facing uncomfortable conflict situations.  When talking through the concerns they had it was quite apparent that the outcome would be positive if they could push past their comfort zone. Positive doesn’t necessarily mean that it will end the way they wanted it to, but it did mean they would be able to speak their mind, to take the words that were swirling in their head and let them come out.  Or as Sara Bareilles so beautifully challenges us  “let the words fall out… honestly”.

One outcome did end quite positively, the other not at all.  But in both situations the person did experience success knowing they stepped up to the challenge of expressing their thoughts, rather than the thoughts churning inside.

Philosophers of the past suggest we should push past the first thought when faced with conflict.  That first thought is almost always automatic, reacting from experiences of the past.  Instead be aware of your first thought and think of a response that moves to the future.  Being aware is the first step in moving from status quo to success.

If you continually push out of your comfort zone there will be more opportunities that create positive impact.

“You can be successful maintaining status quo, but true differentiation is achievable only for those who are willing to dive into new areas”. David Van Rooy, Walmart’s Senior Director of International Human Resources Strategy and Operations.

Next time you are faced with an uncomfortable situation … swan dive into it!

swan dive



Be careful how you define loyalty in your organization

The word for this week is loyalty.  I experienced loyalty in the workplace and thought the employee should be commended for his willingness to go above and beyond of what was asked of him.   After all isn’t that what employers want?  Employees who come to work on time, do what is asked of them and when the need arises do a bit more.  But when you dig deeper we find that the definition of loyalty is more.

According to William  O’Brien, formerly the CEO of Hanover Insurance Company, “Our traditional organizations are designed to provide for the first three levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs – food, shelter and belonging.  Since these are now widely available to members of industrial society, these organizations do not provide anything particularly unique to command the loyalty and commitment of people.  The ferment in management today will continue until organizations begin to address the higher order needs:  self respect and self actualization.”

Leaders today are tasked with communicating to employees that they are valued as individuals and they are making a difference.    It is the responsibility of the leader  to ensure loyalty is evident day in and day out.


Instead of the blame game take responsibility

This past week I experienced two significant conflicts where the individuals did not take responsibility for their actions.  Instead the finger was pointed towards someone or something else that caused the problem.  The troubling aspect is no matter what amount of reasoning or coaching was applied, the persons just did not want to acknowledge their part in the conflict, they wanted to place blame.

Rocky Balboa sets it straight when telling his son to take responsibility for his life and not blame others. Think of what we could accomplish if we took responsibility for our actions.  Who wouldn’t want stronger relationships with family, friends and in the workplace?

When I attended Peter Senge‘s workshop on Foundations for Leadership Peter said “take that finger pointed toward someone else and point it towards our self, to accept the blame for our actions”.

It’s surprising what happens when you say “I’m sorry, I screwed up”.  Give it a try.


Smile, it reduces stress

I arrived to my meeting at Counting House  last week and in the lobby was a big sign that said “Welcome Jeannette McDonald”.

That sign put a surprised smile on my face, even made me take a picture of it and it created a genuine interaction with the client.

So it got me to thinking about smiling. We have heard many of the sayings “a smile is a frown upside down” “smile and the world smiles with you”, well you know the rest.  And I think we all get a bit sappy when that adorable toddler in the shopping cart smiles at us for no apparent reason.

I goggled around and found a great video from Ted Gutman on The Hidden Power of Smiling .  Ted talks about all sorts of research that has been conducted on smiling.  It can increase longevity, it is contagious, it makes us feel better and children do it thousands of times more each day than adults.   Ted’s comments will shape the way you think, perhaps influence your next interaction and I’m pretty sure it will put a smile on your face at the end. Check out the video, it”s short, to the point and a valuable way to spend a few minutes out of your day.

And if Ted doesn’t convince you to smile more often, researchers at the University of Kansas linked smiling with reduced heart rate during stressful situations.

Lastly, if anyone is familiar with Rotary International you know we are big on pins.  I have been a Rotarian since 2009 and probably have 15 pins without exaggeration.  A few years ago I received a pin for smiling.  Can you believe that?  I thought to myself “are you kidding me, for smiling?”.  But I will tell you when I wear that pin, I smile.  It’s actually my favorite pin of all.

When you are feeling stressed,

rotary pin







Walking builds creativity

Struggling with a great idea?  Thoughts zooming around in your mind?  Take a walk.  Break away from the clutter to allow your mind to simmer down.

Researchers at Stanford University conducted a series of experiments to test whether creativity was enhanced while walking.  They asked participants to devise novel uses for every everyday objects and draw associations among unrelated words as the participants sat or walked (either outdoors or on a treadmill, though I am partial to outdoors).  The simple act of walking was associated with increased scores for 81% of the participants, and a residual creative boost when they were seated again.  Subjects produced the most novel and highest quality responses when they strolled alfresco.

I personally can attest to this research. I have been a walker for many years.  Some of my best creativity and problem solving  has occurred while I am walking without the distractions the workplace offers up.  On the contrary, I have spent the past several months preparing for The Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.  Because I  had to walk long distances to build endurance, I brought my iPod and phone.  You can be assured there was little to no time for creativity,  I was too busy talking or listening to music or a podcast to whittle away the hours walking.

I once worked with someone on the leadership team, when things got tense he or I would say “lets take a walk”, it took no more than 15 minutes and it allowed us time  to clear our heads and focus on solutions.

Walking Walking … give it a try