February 23, 2023
By Allison Iantosca, ACC
Human organizations seem to be in an endless search to discover “How to Build a Great Team,” or “How to Fix a Dysfunctional Team.”
Perhaps the ease of the Google search, the plethora of articles all over the Internet, the inspiration of book after book on the Leadership shelf at Barnes and Noble make it seem like a quick solution: Create a Vision, share it with the team while being as magnanimous as possible, and bada-bing-bada-boom you can turn back to the actual work at hand; happy staff, happy customers, happy bank accounts.
Unfortunately, anyone who has worked in a human system of any size knows it just doesn’t work like this. It’s not that we don’t want it to, but we’ve got work to do. Our corporate infrastructures were built with the professional efficacy of “leave it at the door;” a habit we resort to when at a loss for any other, forgetting the absurdity of the suggestion. When was the last time you were able to leave half yourself outside?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there aren’t times to compartmentalize, to focus, or to set aside strong emotions to achieve a goal. These capabilities are vital to our survival no matter our environment. But I caution against the idea that we will ever collectively arrive at an idyllic state of flow and, actually, stay there for very long. Because whose state of flow are we using as the measure anyway?
Well, let’s start with our own. But not where you think.
How often have you found yourself identifying another person as the problem on the team? How often have you named the personality clashes between two colleagues as the disproportionate challenge to making forward progress? How often, even just inside your own mind, have you wished one person would just go away to make everything easier? It’s human nature. We want more and better and clearer runways. Our corporate environments don’t succeed through stasis and nor do our escalating resumes.
But the constant is, in fact, you.
“Paradoxically, if you want to lead others in building resonance and effectiveness you must start with yourself,” Becoming a Resonant Leader (McKee, Boyatzis, Johnston).
Building resonance and effectiveness is a process of getting clear about who you want to be. It is developing a capability to honestly assess your personal awareness about your behaviors, attitudes, and assumptions that drive your work. It is an opportunity to join with your judgment and wonder about its potency. Do you not accept behavior in another mostly because you won’t accept it in yourself? Why is that? And is it still helpful to you to hold onto that assessment?
Until you understand your part in the whole it is very hard to manage the matrix of interdependency as you try to shift the behavior of a whole team. So imagine for a moment, what it would be like if in parallel to creating a successful team as a whole, each part was doing some self-examination? And imagine if that great individual resonance could be brought to the team, one by one, slowly quilting together the threads of its wholeness until a pattern of success is able to emerge.
The beauty of any system of human beings is all of its tender and equal parts. So, when you’ve decided your team needs a little work and you type the topic in a Google search, you’re not far off. But maybe slow down for a beat and search out an opportunity to do a little one on one work first.
Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach certified by ICF with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.
*Photo Credit: Hans Peter Gauster