On Leadership and Team Cohesion: Three Leadership Steps to Better Camaraderie

Camaraderie

Almost twenty-five years in the Air Force serving my country—what a wonderful first career experience I had. There were many things that I enjoyed about the military such as the joy of flying, but over the long haul it’s the close camaraderie with my military teammates that I miss the most.

If you’ve had a similar experience, then you understand the close bonds that are often forged when meeting challenging goals.

Specifically during my Vietnam POW experience, the hardships that my comrades and I endured created a strong bond of brotherhood that endures to this day. Regardless of my work, I still have a longing for that type of connection.

These insights came to mind when I experienced a camaraderie “booster shot” on two recent occasions.

Two Examples of Camaraderie

It began with two days in San Antonio, Texas at an air base where I had served in both command and staff roles. Good memories of past work and teams waft strong when I visit historic Randolph Air Force Base. I was welcomed back into the fold by another generation of warriors closely bound by shared mission and values, and it was an uplifting experience in more ways than I can count.

Then later that week, I flew to France where I experienced that same bond among a team while leading a leadership development and team-building program for an international food distribution company.

Knowing that this was a diverse global team, I had anticipated potential problems in their communications and willingness to be vulnerable with each other. When I joined them for dinner on the first evening though, I had quite a surprise. Let me explain.

There were 35 attendees representing 9 nationalities from 12 countries around the world. Many of these executives are working outside their native country or language, so clearly they had many differences. Yet the thing that stood out most about their time together was their cohesion and camaraderie.

It was clear that they trusted each other. During the long day of work, it was all business with excellent discussions and healthy conflict. As we gathered in the evenings for social time though, it was clear that the group really cared a lot about each other.

Some were clearly more outgoing than others, but every person engaged in their own way. The gathering came alive with fun, laughter, teasing, and the joy of being together.

The Hallmarks of Camaraderie

 

These positive feelings took me back to the days when I had experienced this type of camaraderie in the military. We were diligently competitive and gave each other straightforward feedback in mission debriefs.

To an outsider, it might appear that we were hard on each other, but we were actually very close. Our bonds of friendship and trust were strong, and we enjoyed socializing, having fun just hanging out and talking about our work and sharing our lives together.

Reflecting back over the years, I’ve noticed that camaraderie is usually present in high-performing teams that endure over a long period of time.

What are some of the hallmarks that we can learn from such teams?

  • Time - They have taken the time and energy to build understanding, acceptance, and respect so that individuals feel connected and secure.
  • Results - Because they feel belonging, team members don’t want to let the others down so they strive for excellence in accomplishing the mission (getting results).
  • Communication – Healthier teams have more frequent and more effective communications. They pick up the phone and call each other to quickly solve problems.
  • Team Focus – Healthy teams focus on team results and not just individual effort. Team members help each other succeed and hold each other accountable.

Patrick Lencioni’s groundbreaking books, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage, share this adage that relationships and results feed on each other.

Leadership Steps to Camaraderie

We’ve been talking about the team, but it all starts with the leader. To have this kind of positive energy flowing from human connections, the leader must take the lead.

Here are some important steps to help a leader to build camaraderie:

  • Clarify the culture and set the climate. Alignment built around mission, vision, and values is crucial, as is your commitment to be both leader and member of the team.
  • Create opportunities and expectations for people to build bonds. Social time outside of work is clearly the best way to get to know each other.
  • Connect with each person. Regardless of whether the leader is an introvert or an extrovert, he or she has to engage by connecting with each person making them feel important and welcome. This doesn’t mean that the leader has to be the life of the party. Typically I find more leaders that are introverts than extroverts, but the good ones look to the outgoing, social folks to provide the fun and energy that becomes contagious to the group.

True Bonding

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to join this diverse group. They reminded me of the importance of camaraderie. I came away refreshed and inspired.

And oh, by the way, lest you think I stumbled into a social event veiled as a business meeting, they all had completed the Leadership Behavior DNA assessment prior to the meeting and the majority of them came out with scores in the Reserved Trait (versus Outgoing Trait) making the point about camaraderie even stronger.

What has been your experience on teams with and without camaraderie? If you are a leader, what are you doing to promote this powerful bond among your people? Please share your thoughts and comments.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Beyond Leadership: The Importance of Efficient Teams

Teamwork Fail

While we emphasize leadership quite a bit, most of us in the business world also recognize the importance of teamwork. Teams are made up of individual leaders who bring their own strengths and personality into the mix.

While some tasks can be handled by one individual, we all know that teams can create wonders.

>>> However, a dysfunctional team can derail performance and results quite rapidly.

Positive Team Dynamics

Team dynamics always fascinate me. I recently read Dr. Eric W. Stein’s book titled Designing Creative High Power Teams and Organizations: Beyond Leadership. It was a good read and I want to highlight some of the important aspects in this post.

Dr. Stein discusses poietic  organizations and their characteristics. He also demonstrates the muscle of high powered teams through various case studies such as LEGO and CERN. Although these companies deploy different processes within their teams that suit their businesses and products, the common theme is to have a well thought out model that works to build efficient teams.

Although sometimes processes are frowned upon in companies, having a well-defined process is essential for large corporations in order to build world-class products and do it efficiently.

The Role of Effective Teams

In his book, Dr. Stein demonstrates the role that team members play and how their personalities can complement or contrast with each other. I believe that most corporations set aside a certain budget for leadership training. At the same time, it is also a good idea to train employees to build highly efficient teams.

Of course, it is important to develop great leaders within organizations.

However, beyond individual leadership, what makes an organization excel is excellent teamwork.

Thinking Just Me, or We?

When individuals start thinking of team goals and organizational goals, the results are extraordinary. Therefore it is obvious that time spent in building high power teams will be certainly productive in the long run. Some teams may have to transform to become more efficient than before and it is well worth it.

Have you ever been in a situation where your team mate and you are at odds and you don’t see eye to eye? You are thinking about the team goals and they are thinking about their own goals! At some point, we have all been in a situation like this.

The crux of this matter is whether a person is driven by personal goal or a team goal.

When leaders are driven by personal goals, they achieve a lot and it makes them look good. However, sometimes it makes them look good at other people’s expense and sometimes it makes them look good at the team’s expense. They may fail to understand that in the bigger picture; team goals are more important.

To summarize, I would like to highlight the importance of teams and recognition of teamwork by the members. While we strive for individual leadership, we should never put that ahead of team’s goals.

So as a leader, how are you doing at building effective teams? How are demonstrating a “we-attitude” over a “me-attitude?” Do you have any tips or tricks that work to increase team performance and positive results? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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On Leadership, Inspiration and Leading With a Modern Flair

Creative Problem Solving

Great leaders are always looking for ways to inspire their team, engage others in conversations and generate an exchange of ideas in new and creative ways.

There is a big difference between what people do out of compliance and what they do out of motivation and personal investment.

The goal is to move beyond compliance and provide a fresh approach to inspiring professional growth.

Inspiring Employees

In an article entitled, “10 Ways Not to Motivate Employees”,  the author writes:

“Employees are feeling unmotivated, uninspired, unconnected and just burned out with work. Part of that is possibly because management is not connecting with their employees, encouraging them and finding out how to inspire them and help with whatever they might be struggling with.”  - Conselium and Compliance Risk, July 17, 2013.

As a new Assistant Principal in an elementary school, I was searching for a way to inspire teachers and invest in their professional growth. What I did not want to do was add another time consuming meeting to their already full plates. My goal was to provide inspiration, thought provokers, and conversation starters in a unique and simple way.

I wanted to “break down the walls” of our organization and facilitate a more global perspective on what is important in our line of work.

Leading With A Modern Flair

In this age of digital tools and social media, I turned my attention to creating a platform that is engaging and quick, yet provides relevant content and timely information that is shared in a creative, fun, and motivational way.

Harnessing the power of the web-based platform S’More, social media site Twitter, and the curation tool Paper.Li, I designed a weekly professional development vehicle just for our staff which delivers relevant content and the sharing of ideas and latest trends in our profession-contributed by others from around the world.

I also provide a space for comments, questions and feedback from staff, which proves to be a great tool for collaboration and the back-and-forth exchange of ideas.

The weekly “S’More From The AP” is delivered to staff via email each Friday. This allows for the staff to access it on their own timetable and allows for conversations to develop and build throughout the upcoming week.

What Goes Into The Creation?

Throughout the week, I collect tweets, articles, blogs, and videos which I think would be of interest to my staff or that are important to our own ongoing growth.

Somewhere around mid week, a “big idea” either starts to develop from the material I have been collecting, or it is something that is more personal and tailored to our personal organization needs.

I start looking through my collection and seeing what ties in with the “big idea” for the week, and soon the S’More begins to take shape.

Format

I tinkered around with a few ideas, but here is what I finally settled on:

  • Mini blog post (big idea)
  • Worth Reading (blogs/articles related to idea)
  • Worth Watching (videos that go along with the idea and articles)
  • Tech Corner (A quick shout out to a favorite app, website, or platform that teachers may like)
  • Tweet of the Week (An idea captured in a tweet I have saved. Usually motivational).
  • Scenes From Our Week (pictures of teachers I have taken throughout the week as they are teaching).
  • Link to Staff Weekly Magazine. This is a paper.li that I publish every Thursday, and I include the link in the S’More. It contains articles contributed by members of my Professional Learning Network on Twitter which may or may not be “big idea” related. This platform is very user friendly; you can create a magazine in minutes and set your own publishing schedule. The free service does most of the work for you! You simply select the items you want to include from the pre-published version the website initially creates for you. All content for the magazine is pulled directly from your own Twitter feed, and you choose the contributors.

Keeping Focus

I do not include anything like upcoming dates, events, announcements, or anything of that nature because my principal communicates that information.

This is more of just a professional learning investment, for those who want to partake!

The final touches I usually do on Thursday night and I send it out through email at the end of the day on Friday. I have received very positive feedback on this from our staff!

Final Product

Here is a link to this week’s S’More:  https://www.smore.com/93jab

You can also look through my other weekly S’Mores to see the shape it has taken each week. With a little bit of initial set up, you can create your own personal vehicle for bringing inspiration and new ideas to your own team. This is the type of modern flair that you can bring to your team!

This helps in opening up a global perspective and moving your team beyond compliance into satisfying and rewarding professional growth in which they are truly invested.

What creative ways have you found for sharing motivational ideas or delivering meaningful resources to your employees? I would love to hear your suggestions!

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———————–
Traci Logue

Traci Logue is an educator at Northwest ISD
She has twice been named Teacher of the Year
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Giving Your Employees Freedom To Encourage Creativity

Creativity at Work

If your employees are like most of the respondents to an international survey conducted by Gallup, twice as many of them are unhappy than happy in their jobs. Not only does workplace satisfaction have a direct impact on expenses for recruiting, hiring and retention, unhappy employees can derail productivity, workplace culture and customer experience.

One way to thwart the likelihood that your employees loathe each day on the job? Give them the freedom to be creative in their roles.

Giving Employees Flexibility to Be Creative

Here are a few reasons why giving employees the flexibility to be creative can transform your workplace — and how to do it.

Set the stage.

Sitting at a desk doesn’t necessarily induce a feeling that “the sky’s the limit,” but you can give employees a mental refuge by taking a cue from Google, which has common areas sprinkled throughout its campus to provide employees with a place to change gears and their perspectives.

Whether they use the rooms to think, relax, brainstorm or chat, they’re physically free of the constraining environments of closed meetings rooms and conference tables. As a result, they can change their mood — and their thinking. Any business can provide a space that inspires creativity with something as basic as a room with futons, fluffy cushions, a comfy rug, interesting paint colors, games and gadgets.

Establish a time for mental recess.

Though your employees are presumably more equipped to practice mental discipline than children, who are given recess in order to burn off energy and refocus, adults also need an opportunity to think outside of their pressing “to-do” lists to start thinking about new ways of problem-solving in their jobs.

As science writer Jonah Lehrer explained in a 2012 NPR story on the science behind workplace creativity, the idea of a daily workplace recess has proven successful for 3M, which gives its engineers time out of each day to spend however they wish, as long as they later share with colleagues what they worked on for that hour. Not only does the break give employees a chance to refresh their mental batteries, it communicates a sense of trust between company and employee. As a result, they’re more likely to want to work with an employer as a partner, versus feeling like a “worker bee.”

Give employees at every level the opportunity to create.

Employees in “creative” fields like design, engineering and marketing usually have the opportunity to share their creative input, but as Lehrer also told NPR, those who aren’t in a creative role often have the most important input to share, given their exposure to the “front lines” of the business.

By establishing a norm that everyone in the organization is invited to share ideas free of judgment, you can increase the collective sense of accountability as well as the degree to which employees at all levels feel respected and appreciated by the organization.

Honor results more than face time.

It’s easy to spot the employees who have a “clock in, clock out” mentality, but if your organization places high importance on arriving and leaving the office at defined start and end times, these employees are behaving in the exact way your organization has implicitly stated, or indirectly implied, is required.

To inspire a culture of creativity, focus your organizational emphasis on results, not basic task completion.

Though you don’t have to go for a total “results-only work environment” (which allows employees to come and go whenever they want, as long as they’re producing results), the ideology is an important shift in growing a culture of employees who feel empowered, important and fulfilled in their work.

In addition to ensuring that managers behave in a way that reinforces the idea that true engagement is more important than simply being present, performance reviews should reflect a similar ideology.

Freedom to Create

Giving employees the freedom to create may represent a shift in your current operations, but given the payoff that it can provide in reduced human resources overhead and a competitive advantage in innovation and customer service, it’s likely a risk worth taking.

So how are you doing as a leader to give your employees the freedom and flexibility to be creative? What are some steps you can take now to insure a better bottom-line by have more people doing the things they love? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Kristen Gramigna

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in the Bankcard Industry in Direct Sales, Sales Management and Marketing
Email | LinkedIn | Web |

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On Leadership and Assessing Leadership Potential in Yourself and Others

Lee Ellis

Carla, a Senior Vice-President of a Fortune 200 company, has the challenge of evaluating the natural leadership potential of several team members. She had worked with all of them for some time, but she’s unsure about the best criteria to match the needed skills for the job with the potential candidates.

Not only does she want the person in the right role, but she needs someone that can produce results, increase productivity, and manage a cohesive team.

Knowing that 62% of executive decisions are made based solely on gut feelings, she wants to make a better hiring decision by obtaining more concrete data about each candidate.

Where Does She Start?

With over 30 years of research and experience in the fields of human behavior and performance, I believe that it’s unequivocally true that every person is unique and that all leaders (and the people they manage) have different talents. Here are some other confirmations:

  • The best leaders have a mix of natural and learned behaviors.
  • You can confirm that an individual belongs in a specific personality style, but the style categorization should not be used to put people in a “box”.
  • There are no good or bad personality styles to determine leadership ability—just different. Great leaders come from all styles.

So, it’s important to be objective and realize that anyone can become a successful leader.

Results vs. Relationships Evaluated

After evaluating that the base character and integrity of each candidate matches the values of the company, the next step is evaluating their results vs. relationships balance.

We’ve all been there and worked for the leader that got results but had no trusted relationships on their team. They were simply a machine that met the desired goals at any cost. On the flip side, there were the “fun leaders” that wasted hours every day talking and socializing with the team and then scrambled at the last minute to get a few things accomplished. They’re fun to be around, but results and progress ultimately fall short on a regular basis.

Statistically, 40% of leaders are more results (mission) oriented, and 40% are more relationships (people) oriented. The most effective leaders have balanced skills in both results and relationships.

For example, a successful leader must be tough or soft as the situation dictates.

Even though some leaders are naturally either tough or soft, that’s where our learned behaviors come into play to be truly successful.

Communication Style Analyzed

Another key area to evaluate is communication style when interacting with others. Think of the people on your own team or department and how different they are.

While the goal is treat everyone fairly, a successful leader understands the unique differences in people and communicates with them differently.

Some people will need more interaction with their manager than others in order to do a good job, while others are more self-managing. Some people work best when they can more on tasks, while others will work better when their work involves more frequent interaction with others.

The communication needs with these team members are different, too.

Successful leaders also need the courage do to the hard things such as confronting poor performance and bad behavior. It also takes courage for some leaders to do the soft things such as encouraging and supporting their people. Healthy accountability is critical to maintain standards and values, and that’s easier for some leaders to do than others.

All of these examples hinge on the leader’s natural and/or learned ability to communicate in different ways with different people.

The Next Step in Assessing Leaders

While other natural competencies such as problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and support needed should also be considered, validating the key skills above is a wise endeavor.

To help with Carla’s hiring process, asking the right questions and using an assessment tool for each candidate will give her greater chances for success as she builds her team. With this new found data, she can choose a leader that has the character, courage, and the talent balance to propel the company forward and support a culture of great leadership.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Adaptive Intelligence: Your Organization’s Cultural Operating System

 

Chamelion

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Civilization needs a new operating system.” ~Paul Hawken

Pressure Test

Here is a quick test to help you understand both emotional and analytical thinking.

What do you normally do when your computer has a glitch and that box pops up inviting you to “report the problem?

  • Do you hit the “yes” button and dutifully wait for the computer to do its analysis and send the message?
  • Or do you hit “no” knowing this issue will rear its ugly head again soon?

There’s complex emotional and analytic thinking behind this decision that is analogous to dealing with annoyances in our working lives.

For example, if you hit “no” you’re deciding that although annoying its a small distraction compared with the important task at hand. However, if you’ll need to follow the same procedure and get the same bug you’re more likely to hit “yes”. You might also consider this to be the software provider’s responsibility; “why should I do their job for them.

(Mind you if everyone hit “no” the consequence of this global “e-silence” is the bug never gets fixed…)

We have the same basic choices with our problems at work. Do we do something about them or put up with it stoically? If enough people fail to report the problem it festers creating an invisible block to personal and organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and eventually achievement.

Sharing Important Information

The power and impact of sharing information was described eloquently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his TED Talk. - The military case for sharing knowledge.

Sharing is power” ~Gen. Stanley McChrystal

All organisations have limited human, financial and physical resources and must prioritise. For a problem to get over their attention threshold and trigger a response, a certain number of “complaints” must be received.

Managers decide how urgent/big the problem is and determine a response. In other words every user has 100% responsibility over error reporting and the organisation has 100% responsibility for its response.

This is a classical trust-based dynamic relationship.

When it’s working really well, a cultural operating system grows stronger iteratively from the power its crowd feeding back.

A Cultural Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Apple’s Mac OS are akin to a command and control-based management system where the end-user/staff has modest input.

Whereas, Linux, the epitome of an iterative open source process, is similar to a flat organisational system.

How would an iterative cultural operating system based on the concept of Adaptive Intelligence underpin effectiveness and success?

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky describe Adaptive Leadership as, “an iterative process involving three key activities:

1) Observing events and patterns around you

2) Interpreting what you observe

3) Designing interventions based on 1 & 2.”

I have added some steps to include:

4) Observation of the effects of interventions

5) Flexing interventions to give optimal positive results (Fig. 1).

Fig.1. A dynamic adaptive positive feedback cycle

AI Fig 1

 

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive Intelligence (AQ) is the dynamic expression of our Analytical Intelligence (AQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ = internal motivation).

The exact flavour of AQ we deploy needs to be flexed to fit any given changing situation we experience. Operating from imbalanced IQ, EQ or PQ creates inappropriate responses based on habit.

If you want to use more of your AQ become more authentically aware of yourself and others.

Organisations need to develop deeper and broader corporate self-awareness. As a first step you might invite everyone to hit the social equivalent of the “yes” button whenever they observe problems or they have potentially good idea. This virtuous process relies on everyone believing they have influence, will be heard and their input valued and acted on.

This resonates with our software analogy nicely (Figure 2.).

Fig. 2 Comparison of computing and organisational operating systems.

AI Fig 2

Enhanced AQ

Enhanced AQ is delivered by:

  • Raising individual and organisational awareness
  • Transparent communication
  • Authentic trust
  • Objective measurable action.

It is powered by curiosity and authentic feedback and founded on 100% personal responsibility.

Stifled AQ

Poorly functioning AQ-based cultural operating systems are recognised from symptoms including:

  • Poor recruitment
  • High staff turnover
  • Conflict
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor staff engagement
  • Missed opportunities/deadlines
  • Inability to create trends and compete effectively

Long lasting symptomatic improvement comes from paying persistent attention to your cultural operating system (AQ). You keep a healthy AQ system going by constant vigilance, bug fixes (e.g. removing stupid rules), cultural upgrades (e.g. wellbeing-based cultures) and inviting everyone to be more curious about their daily working lives (See – How To Use Your Daily Story As A Powerful Seminar For Achievement).

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.” ~Unknown

Flexible Open System

An adaptive iterative cultural process equips leaders with high quality dynamic information as well as the authentic human perceptions which create exciting visions and sustain meaningful change.

Thoughts for today

  • How often do you look under the hood of your organisation’s cultural operating system?
  • Notice to what extent your organisation’s culture relies on its corporate hardware (hierarchy, IT, systems & policies) compared with software (culture & people).
  • How much attention and time do you devote to awareness raising efforts for you and your staff?
  • Do you have a flexible open system for all staff to report problems and ideas?
  • Do you have an adaptive iterative cycle (AIC)?
  • How might you incorporate staff feedback and ideas into your AIC drive to improvement?

Recommended reading

The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

 

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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