A Team of Five has 59,048 Possibilities to Under-Perform

For a team to truly perform well, there must be excellent relationships among all team members. We covered that in the previous issue.

On a five-person team, there are 59,048 other possible relationship combinations. Person A gets on with Person B, but not with Persons C, D and E. Person B gets on well with Persons C and E, but not so much with the rest, and so on. With weak connections, the team under-performs.

My key point here is to make you more aware of how important the quality of individual relationships are in delivering a top performance.

I mentioned previously that mechanical systems are per definition stable and organic systems are per definition unstable. By unstable, we mean that the system is in a constant flux—always in transition from one state to another.

One aspect of the instability in a five-person team is the quantity and quality of connections—the relationships—between team members.

Two people can have three types of relationships—good,...

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The Whole Should Not Be Less Than The Sum of Its Parts

You have heard it ad nauseam—the bit about the whole being larger than the sum of its parts. We use it to describe the benefit of systems or why teams are better than just individuals working in groups.

So let's just recap: When do “things” become a system?

A system is the result of connecting things that are different.

Note that the critical words here are connection and diversity.

A box of nails does not constitute a system. All the things are exactly the same and they aren’t connected even if they are in the same box.

A computer is a system and so is a management team. One is mechanic and the other is organic. We’ll come back to the implications of that later.

But what we seem to forget is that it’s not a given that the whole will be more than the sum of the parts. Sometimes—quite often actually when we talk about teams—the whole turns out to be considerably less than the sum of the parts.

There’s...

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All Your Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems

"Tell me, what do people actually ask you to coach them about,” she asked. I was having a lovely conversation with an old friend who I had not seen in a while and we were catching up on how our lives had developed. I tried to give her a few examples of what I thought were very different issues of what I’m working with.

Later that week, I was reading something by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler and came across this:

All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.

Then, it hit me—reflecting on what I had discussed with my friend and also thinking through other examples. They may call it different things, but by far, most of the coaching challenges that I work on are about relationships.

Relationships with colleagues, bosses, across departments or even customers—even relationship with themselves—

—the common denominator in all of this has to do with how to work better with others.

Why do so many people struggle with this and why is it so...

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