Understanding the Stages that Your Team Goes Through

What Stage is Your Team at?

Conflict is Just a Symptom.

You Need to Work on the Fluffy Stuff.

Last blog post, you took a deeper dive into understanding how the mental states of each team member influence the whole team, and that the team leader probably has more influence on the team's states than anybody else.

The mental states that team members are in also produce a certain collective behavior, especially as there are states that are typical for each stage of the life cycle of a team.

When you put a bunch of people together in a team, they typically go through certain stages. This was first described by psychologist Bruce Tuckman who came up with the memorable phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.

This is not new. On the contrary, it is a well-established framework. Many of you have also probably heard of the expression "forming, storming, norming and performing" before—the words that...

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How to Help Your Team Manage Its States

What Do States Mean?

What Causes You to Shift or Change Your State?

When You Shift Your Focus, You Shift Your State

In the previous blog post, you looked at how teams are organic systems, and by definition, unstable.

The lack of stability shows up as a result of the shifting states of each team member. In return, that obviously has repercussions on the state of the whole team.

What Do States Mean?

States are temporary conditions that constantly transition into new ones. You are tired, refreshed, lethargic, or energetic. These are all different forms of physical states. You are also happy, sad, exuberant, or angry. These are emotional states. The two play an ongoing interdependent dance with each other. For instance, when you have slept well, you might feel happier than when you just had two hours of restless sleep on a plane.

The state that you are in at any given time influences your performance quite dramatically. Just think of yourself and what a difference it...

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Teams are Organic Systems; Therefore, by Definition, Unstable.

As you continue to explore team leadership being different from team management, you now need to look at another aspect of the team.

A team is also a system. When you look at it from that angle, you need to recognize that systems come in many forms. One way to look at them is either mechanical or organic. Mechanical systems are things like computers, cars, and factories. Mechanical systems are, by definition, stable. You may feel that your car is "moody," but that probably reflects more about you than the car. The car just either works or not. Meaning, it continues to work up to a point, then it snaps and goes kaput.

Human beings—the core elements of your team—are organic systems, as are cats, cauliflowers or caterpillars. By definition, organic systems are unstable. They are always in transition from one state to another. Humans go from happy to excited to sad, from wide awake to drowsy, from enthusiastic to reluctant and back...

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How is Team Management Different from Team Leadership? Why Should I Worry?

What is a Team?

When it comes to leadership, three common but major challenges appear. These are how to best:

  • Provide inspiration;
  • Lead a team; and
  • Develop employee capacity.

In a previous blog post, you explored what it means to be inspirational. In the next few blog posts, you will explore what leadership means in a team context. Afterward, you will learn about leadership dedicated to the challenge of developing employees.

Just to recap: The basic premise for this and the succeeding blog posts is that management and leadership are distinctly different. Both are required, but somehow most managers tend to focus more on the management part of the job and neglect the leadership aspect. If you are in the service industry, this mindset will ultimately affect your guest experience.

In my view, team management is all about the operational, practical and tangible aspects of what the team does—tasks, timelines, delivery, budget, among others. It all needs to be looked...

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The Something-For-Something System is at the Heart of the Uninspiring Workplace.

The Game We Play

Management by Exception

The something-for-something system is what happens in most organizations today.

Here is how it works: You come into work and give some of your time in return for a salary. If you work a bit harder, more, or better, you expect that you will also be rewarded for it—probably through some sort of bonus, overtime pay, or promotion, even.

If you don’t work hard or perform your job well, it is built into the system that you can expect some kind of "punishment."

The assumption is that you come to work because it is in your interest. You need the money so you can pay your rent, feed the kids, or play golf during the weekend. It’s a something-for-something kind of thinking which has thousands of years behind it. Technically, it is known as transactional leadership.

The Game We Play

If the employer and the employee, or probably in your case, the manager and the employee, have a relationship which basically is about...

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What Does It Require to be An Inspirational Team Leader?

The concept of being inspirational may feel overwhelming to some. You may associate being inspirational with icons of business like Richard Branson or monumental politicians such as Churchill or Kennedy.

But if you did the little exercise I invited you to do in the previous blog post—trying to identify team leaders who have been inspirational in your career—I'm sure you came up with a few names, even if you have not been fortunate enough to work for someone similar to Branson. Team leaders with a lot less punch than Branson can still come across as hugely inspirational.

So, is the ability to be inspirational something we are born with or is it a learned skill? Maybe a bit of both. It is probably true that for some people, this comes more naturally than to others. But there is also lots of evidence that becoming more inspirational can be learned.

It begins with awareness. Awareness precedes change.

If you can identify the gap between your current...

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Are You An Inspiring Team Leader to Work for?

Why is being an inspiration to your followers an all-important part of your team leadership? Below is a figure that illustrates how the hierarchy of employees' needs looks:

At the bottom, you have the foundational stuff. Without that being in place, you won't get basic satisfaction. This is more or less all basic management stuff that you are hopefully already doing. The next level, on the other hand, is what drives engagement and where your leadership skills start to make a difference. Finally, you have the top layer—inspiration which is driven by the style of team leadership you are providing.

As you can see in the figure, there are two aspects of inspiration. One pertains to the vision or mission of your team: Is your team trying to achieve something meaningful? The other aspect is about you: Are you the sort of person that inspires followership?

Why are all these things important?

Well, if you are the sort of persons that likes information to be...

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A Manifesto for Great Service Leadership

I believe that—

  • Customer loyalty is the key to building a great service business with growth and strong profits.
  • Marketing is not a department. It is the way we do things consistently, touch point by touch point, day after day.
  • Employee engagement drives exceptional customer experience.
  • At any level, the team leader is crucial to engagement. Most managers, including the CEO, are also team leaders—never forget that.
  • Good managers are not automatically great team leaders. Being a great team leader is a learned skill.
  • Bad leadership that is not addressed is the invisible drag that slows growth and profits.
  • Bad team leaders represent a considerable hidden cost. They cause increased staff turnover and decreased customer satisfaction—the kiss of death in the service business.
  • Bad team leaders spend far too little effort in coaching their managers on the leadership aspect of the job. Bad team leaders assume that their managers will work it out, which is a common but...
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