The Team Bus

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As an employee, I want to know where this ‘bus’ is going.  This is the very basic and most essential step of the leader – defining where are we going?  A consensual vision generates energy and enthusiasm.  It also permits me as the employee to determine if I want to get on this bus or opt out.  The image also creates expectations that I will work to support the vision.

Leadership teams around the world struggle generating consensual vision.  I have sat in Executive Team sessions where the lack of consensual vision is evident.   One reason for a lack of consensual vision is ego.  It is about my direction or my career vs. the greater good of the business.  Teams that do not invest the time in clarifying their preferred future, end up nowhere.  Competing interests are symptomatic of poor alignment.

Teams that break through often start with high levels of dysfunction. Teams go through 3 phases before they become exceptional – Hiding, Disclosing & Shared Fate.

Teams that are performing poorly Hide from real issues, tough conversations and commitment.  Hiding has the appearance of safety for team members.  Teams that hide are comprised of individuals that hide.  Hiding gives the impression that there is imminent danger.  It is risky to admit mistakes.  Teams hide because there is no trust.

Once individuals take ownership of their performance and behavior they move to Disclosure. Self-disclosure builds trust.  Great leaders demonstrate value to teams by spending time, taking an interest and offering support to team members.  Gallup has found that engaged employees feel valued. It sounds so simple to demonstrate value, yet in the busyness of leaders seeking to demonstrate shareholder value, we forget that it is indeed the people that must experience value.

Once teams begin to disclose they move to Shared Fate.  Teams begin to win when they pursue a cause.  Consensual vision can only be achieved when teams move from Hiding to Disclosing.  Fate conjures thoughts of a destiny.  The word ‘destiny’ is so much more powerful than just looking at bottom line results.  Your job as a leader is to remind your team what their shared fate is and that you value individual team members to help get there.

What phase is your team at? How will you move them forward?