I’ve been reminded recently of the constant tension on a team. And…. the Tension is Good. We talked about this and leaned into this phrase before, and actually dealt with it as an event theme back in 2010 at Catalyst Atlanta. The right kind of tension is important for teams, as well as for individuals. It stretches and shapes and allows for growth.
But there are other things that can creep into a team and poison it quickly. Things that sneak up fast and before you know it, start to define the team and take everyone off course. In the wrong direction. Headed the wrong way.
Here are a few of the poisons to make sure and avoid:
1. Arrogance- Pride comes before the fall, and for teams, the same holds true. Jim Collins talks about this at length in his book How the Mighty Fall. Humble confidence is the ticket.
2. No communication- this one is the most common poison for all teams to have some form of. The remedy? Overcommunicate. Be intentional and make sure folks are in the know. For team leaders, this one is tough. I struggle at this.
3. Me first, vs. We first- see this alot on high profile sports teams. Or with celebrities. As they say, there’s no “I” in team. A WE first mentality starts at the top with the leader who has to set the tone in word AND deed. If you are hearing “it’s not my job,” then it’s time for a gut check.
4. Jealousy and Cynicism- many times these go hand in hand and one follows the other. The remedy? Confronting it head on. Don’t allow jealousy or cynicism or cliques to form. Stomp it out immediately. Team members have to confront it with each other, as many times the team leader won’t be aware of this until later.
5. Distrust- either not trusting the leader, or not trusting each other. A killer of morale and momentum. Trust comes with time, but also is fueled by interaction and shared experiences. So make sure you are creating opportunities for trust to be built within and among your team.
6. Lack of Vision, and Lack of reality- this usually shows up in the form of a team lacking self awareness. And starts at the top with the team leader. One of the roles of a team leader is to constantly cast vision, but also to confront reality head on and make sure everyone is aware of reality. Don’t allow your team to live in fantasy land. You should cast vision constantly, yes, but you should also deal with reality constantly.
What else would you say poisons teams in your experience?