Team Viscosity

The true depth of connection between team members is an invisible quality that is only seen when it is reflected in the actions of the team under the most challenging of circumstances.

Don’t look up ‘Viscosity’ in the dictionary if you want a good description of highly effective teams.  I don’t assume you want your team to be “gooey.” And yet I can’t imagine any other term that so effectively describes that “stuff” that flows throughout a highly cohesive team and keeps them smoothly humming along under the greatest of stress.

What is that mysterious quality that truly connects team members, lubricates difficult situations and keeps friction from building to a point where parts and systems begin to break down?  I call it Viscosity.  It’s not quite invisible.  And yet it’s also not a team component that’s easily held up for examination.  It tends to slip through the fingers of those trying to mold it into an easily recognizable and tangible shape that can be examined, probed, prodded and dissected for clear and perfect understanding.

It is the truly ineffable.  And yet, as my colleague Jeff Salz states, it’s the only thing that really eff-ing matters.

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Inviting Vulnerability

Vulnerability is a hot topic these days. And well it should be. I’ve been speaking to the power of vulnerability with my clients for a long time. It is an absolute foundational core to building any trusting relationship, whether that be in business or in our personal lives.

I’m a strong advocate of creating environments where people feel safe to tell their stories. It is through the sharing of the nuances of our lives that we connect, bond and relate to others. Telling your story, and telling it true, requires a great degree of vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the other half of truth.
All too often the unspoken half that waits in the wings yearning for it’s moment in the light.
Without the opportunity to honestly express where and how we feel vulnerable, we’re only having half the conversation, which never really gets to the heart of the matter.

Recently Brené Brown showed up on Ted Talks with a brilliant talk about how vulnerability is a keystone to developing deeper connections with others. I was so glad to see the topic get such resounding support as people clearly resonated with the truth of her message.

Yes!  We’re coming to understand the power of being more vulnerable.  Fantastic.

Now, I want to speak about something that can often be even more difficult to pull off…..

Beyond being vulnerable ourselves
and accepting others when they’re vulnerable.
What’s really important is….

Inviting Vulnerability From Others.

Here’s what got me thinking about that and why it’s important.

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Setting a North Star Vision for Navigating Stormy Organizational Seas

As a leader, one of your key roles is to help transform confusing complexity into elegant and powerful simplicity.

Arguably the most complex component of a leader’s world is the diverse mix of people they lead.

Organizational cultures can be a minefield of complex and intricate relationships. You already know how even a very small handful of intimate relationships at home can be challenging enough to manage. At work, the complexity of multiple relationship dynamics multiplies exponentially. Add to that the pressures of stress, speed, ego, career advancement, the ever shifting landscape of office politics, perceived status, financial security and working with people who you didn’t necessarily choose to have in your life – and you’ve got a pretty complex situation to manage.

 As a leader, you need to do everything you can to add clarity, inspiration, encouragement and well defined purpose to this wildly flavored soup of relationships and often conflicting goals.

Rewards – Seeking the simple solution first

So, yes, people are complicated. But we are also quite simple in that we typically do more of what we are rewarded for and do less of those things that yield no rewards or have negative consequences.

It is through this particular simplicity of human nature that a purposeful leader can realize their best leverage for shaping a stellar team.

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Let it Go and Let it Flow.

When Leaders let go, energy flows and people grow.

There’s not a person that I know, including myself, who couldn’t stand a little softening around the edges or wouldn’t benefit greatly from a bit of letting go.

Think about your friends, family and co-workers. I’d wager that when you consider how they might be a bit more graceful in the world, you most likely see where they might soften an edge, ease a tightness, loosen a clenched grip or let go of some need to control.

Of course, this applies to you too, you being human after all.

And if you’re in a leadership position, then the areas where you hold on the most fervently might very well be inhibiting the growth and potential of those you lead.

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