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Ying and Yang. Male and Female. Good and Bad. The whole world is made up of just the right amount of both. When that balance is lost, so are we. Some examples of balance gone awry are:

  • Female infanticide due to China’s one child law has caused villages of single young men who are depressed.
  • The richest nations in the world are dying of obesity while the poorest are dying of lack of food.

You don’t need me to tell you that we need balance in life and in the world. Therefore it may also come as no surprise to you that balance is also needed in team dynamics.
The best team dynamics exist when what I call both the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors are present at the same time and place.
Some ‘hard’ factors in a team are:

  • clear team leadership,
  • clear goals, roles, decision making,
  • alignment
  • the presence of accountability.

The ‘soft’ are things like:

  • trust,
  • respect,
  • intimacy,
  • communication
  • fun.

To see if I’m telling you the truth, just ask yourself, “What was the most productive or fun team that I ever worked with?”
For example, I once was part of a product launch with a team made up of people from departments such as Production, Marketing and Sales. It was the easiest launch I’d ever seen. People were motivated and committed. We had fun and leaned into each other when one of us wasn’t going to be able to deliver.
Another example of a great team I worked on was a charity’s board of directors that I was a member of. There, people assumed roles that fit their strengths: I managed the charity’s marketing function while a financial advisor led their sub committee for fundraising. Aside from this, there was an ease and shared intimacy in what was once a roomful of strangers. The brilliantly enthusiastic leader, our Director vocally and excitedly celebrated not just grant wins but also personal team wins such as new weddings and babies and career advancement news.
In fact, when these ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors are charted on a graph, each quadrant of the graph reveals a different team personality. For example, if your team scores high on ‘hard’ factors and low on ‘soft’ ones, that quadrant is characterized by high productivity in the short run with a lot of potential for burnout in the long run.
Conversely, in the opposite quadrant where the team has a high score of ‘soft’ factors but a low one for ‘hard’ factors, this is the kind of team where people get along well but not much is getting done. Therefore the team results aren’t very good and there are lots of mistakes being made.
Discovery and self knowledge are key to moving your teams forward. Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Take the time with your teams to first determine what the factors were in the best teams they ever worked at in the past.
  2. Then chart your own teams against these attributes and see what team profile emerges.
  3. The last step is then to have your team come up with 5-7 factors to work towards.

After all, wouldn’t you want your team story to be told as a member’s best memory?
With kindness as always,
Chala

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