Team Leaders Motivate Your Teams!

July 25, 2017

Leading emotionally intelligent teams is a tough job. Developing your skill is worth it as teams strong in EI are productive, creative and loyal to their organization. Building team motivation is a key strategy for success so team leaders maximize their own success by implementing the 7 motivation actions.

Before you implement any of these steps, think about someone who did a great job leading a team you were on. How did he/she motivate you? How did he/she engage and follow through? Now with a good example in mind ask:

  1. What are the characteristics of the team members on the team I’m leading? Know your team members individually.

Get to know your team members individually and help them know each other through a personality assessment such as Change Style Indicator or the Influence Style Indicator. You’ll be amazed at how much good data supports understanding team members’ preferences. With this information, you can strategically target your requests to gain the best buy in.

  1. What’s my team good at? What are their challenges?

Understand your team strengths and weaknesses with the TESI®. The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®, is a team 360 reporting on how team members access their functioning in seven core areas of team engagement. These measurable results help teams focus on how to tap into their skills and improve areas of weakness. You and your team can measure success through the pre-post assessment.

  1. What rings their bells – what dampens their spirits?

Pay attention to the feedback you receive on a regular basis and repeat what works. Utilize your data on individual and team strengths in order to further positive engagement.

  1. How will the team break out of old patterns to awaken creativity and boost spirits?

Creativity is an energizer. Even though some team members may moan about change, when you lead them in purposeful change and have a defined approach and outcomes it will help build new energy and clear out old ways of doing things that aren’t necessary anymore.

  1. What’s your team attitude?

Discuss the power of attitude with your team. Ask team members to explore current attitudes and then set intentions for the attitude they will express in the future. Be specific about who does what so you can notice and affirm positive actions as engagement improves.

  1. What inspires your team members and the team as a whole?

What about giving some time to a worthwhile community project? You and the team could spend an hour at a soup kitchen or a day helping build a house. There are many ways to contribute. Challenge the team to consider options and find a suitable project. After contributing your time get together and debrief. Talk about how it felt, what you learned about your community and what it means to volunteer as a team.

  1. Determine how well your team that functions with emotional and social well-being

The Collaborative Growth team model measures the seven specific skills seen in the outer ring. Your team can take the TESI, consider their skills and opportunities, and engage in intentional growth. The model shows that as teams are deliberately enhancing their skills they develop the benefits shown in the middle circle, such as trust, and then progress to being a team that enjoys emotional and social well-being. This is a highly productive and engaged state which leads to sustainable good results. However, be sure to pay attention to maintaining those skills. High performance requires constant attention.


Unpacking Team Identity

February 15, 2016

box-unpack

As part of the launch of the Expanded TESI 2.0, every month we will look at a new team competency and where the challenges lie in developing it. We begin this month with Team Identity!

In some ways Team Identity is the most fundamental competency of teamwork because this skill set incorporates the desire of the members to include each other and work together as a team. Many of the teams in existence today were assembled by others and told to work as a team but by itself that will never accomplish the goal – especially in national and organizational cultures where competition is so highly rewarded. If members are not compensated as a team in some fashion (bonuses, etc.) the disincentives for collaboration will be hard to overcome, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. This is a good thing, because in the U.S. it is the exception rather than the rule to see employees compensated for the productivity of their teamwork.

Being assigned to a team does create a real degree of interdependency, and this is the glue that holds it all together. If your boss or your bosses boss expects you and several others to get something done together, that expectation can hardly be dismissed or discounted. Unfortunately it’s not enough incentive to cause people to make the kinds of adjustment in their behavior that genuine teamwork requires. There is a constant tension between my need to be recognized as an individual and my need to belong and be recognized as a productive contributor. Let’s consider some of the targets we need to be moving toward.

Effective Communication (another of the seven TESI competencies) is the critical, bare minimum requirement for any team to be productive. This means all information needs to be shared freely and equally among all members and this is not so likely to happen on its own. Everyone enjoys some degree of special recognition when they figure out how to solve a tricky problem. One reason that it’s still a problem is because no one else has figured it out so far. The shift that needs to occur here is in the recognition that the team can provide sufficient praise and recognition to fully reinforce the members’ achievements – if it knows how, and makes the effort every time. (In other words everyone’s achievements must be recognized not just the most assertive or the most drama prone members.)

The way to recognize individual’s contributions includes making sure that all team members are present at that meeting when the recognition happens, then ask the problem solver to tell their story– when did they first recognize the problem, what alerted them, what steps had to occur in what order to move from the problem to the solution. Teaching the team to tell these kinds of stories can provide some of the best instruction through experiential learning that the team is likely to receive, so get the full value by taking your time. Ask questions. Teach team members to recognize and describe the significant details. This helps to explicate their internal problem solving process and makes it a much more conscious, obvious one that everyone (even the problem solver) can observe more objectively and reflect upon. The trust that is demonstrated when someone openly shares their strategy for problem solving with everyone empowers the team as a whole, and builds each person’s identity with the whole group through sharing and appreciating even a small success.

Trust is such a huge part of effective teamwork that every team can benefit from regular practice in developing it! Trust grows as a result of people keeping their word to each other, but you don’t want to wait to develop this team skill until there is a pressing need for it – that doesn’t work! Applying the emotional intelligence skill of empathy is one of the fastest ways to build trust. Use a lot of reflective language in your team meetings like, “I think you’re feeling pretty frustrated because you can’t get a quorum together to approve this change to the project you’re running.”

The meta-message behind this kind of communication behavior is – “I notice you and I’m paying attention to the challenges you face and how you feel about them.” Just paying this kind of attention to each other on a regular basis helps people feel included and lets them know it’s safe to share what’s important to them at a more personal level. Without this, Team Identity cannot grow strong enough to support the team in dealing with the even trickier issues that come into play when serious disagreement and conflict occur. We’ll look at it all as we cover the seven competencies and the cool new features of the Expanded TESI 2.0

Next month we will be discussing Motivation and how the presence or absence of that energy is influencing all the team’s members all the time.


Why Teamwork Gets So Tricky

May 28, 2015

people_puzzle

After more than 20 years of investigation and practical application at Collaborative Growth, the results are in:

Developing leaders is comparatively easy. Developing teams…well that’s a different story – and here’s why. Any individual who is interested in becoming a more effective communicator (and this is the most fundamental and far-reaching skill of leadership) can practice the known skills that will make him or her easier to understand. Leaders can become more persuasive, and if they sincerely want to work on increasing their authenticity, they can genuinely become more trustworthy. It is simply a matter of exercising their own initiative. Their only real obstacles are internal –their occasional lack of willpower, the strength of their bad habits, their inability to focus their attention or muster sufficient energy. And if they don’t develop quite as rapidly as they wanted to their sincerity is not called into question and there is no embarrassment if their plans were private goals.

Developing teams also requires the development of effective communication skills, however this time for a group of individuals all at the same time. This is definitely a much more difficult and public undertaking. At the very least everybody on the team knows that change is afoot, some kind of progress is expected, and this progress is going to disrupt the way power is currently balanced and what – engaged, coordinated, distributed, practiced, implemented, effectuated? All of these words come close but none exactly capture the idea, so perhaps we could say developing team effectiveness disrupts the way in which members communicate their power within the team. This usage is a little unusual but perhaps it captures the situation a bit more crisply.

In these days of “do more with less” there are very few teams that are overstaffed. For everyone who has a spot on the team there usually is some specific expectation that they need to meet in order for the team to reach its goals. If someone isn’t happy with the way things are going (or if they don’t really know how to or want to do the role which they have been assigned) they can innocently make it look like someone else is to blame. We call this disassembling.

Primates learn to deceive at a very early age. Attentive parents can tell when their child’s crying is a sincere expression of pain or a more general bid for attention. Attentive team leaders may not be quite so skillful at detecting what is going on between team members, and even when they do detect some potential disassembling they may not feel all that capable or inclined to tackle the conflict that will result when they attempt to let the responsible parties know that their behavior has been noticed. Most likely accountability has not been defined specifically enough to provide for effective evaluation.

But like the developing leader, each team member can also suffer from a lack of willpower, bad habits, a lack of energy and/or the inability to focus their attention as well as they want. Even though some amount of this is normal and to be expected, for it to be noticed publicly is embarrassing, and embarrassment is just the surface expression of our deep instinct to avoid rejection. Primates do not like to feel excluded! Can you begin to see why developing emotionally effective teamwork is such a challenge compared to developing leaders?

At Collaborative Growth we use a scientifically validated assessment called The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey, or TESI to help teams be able to pinpoint where the real problems are. Then using our team communication training skills, developed over more than 20 years with all kinds of teams from the private and public sectors, we help the teams and their members and their leader get real! Once people understand the general ways in which people are wired to communicate and cooperate and compete this is not a particularly confrontational process. People enjoy discovering the effectiveness of the communication patterns that we teach, in part because these skills are every bit as effective at home as at the office.

Utilizing a basic understanding of this information we can help team members deconstruct the triggers that activate those self-protective reactions which so often turn disingenuous, or manipulative, or outright intimidating. We coach all the team members on how to use specific communication language to acknowledge and transform the many kinds of conflict that have often been swept under the rug for a very long time, and because everyone is learning and practicing it at the same time the team itself begins to grow and self-organize holistically.

As the team members learn how to use these language patterns to communicate their authentic hopes and fears they begin to express their displeasure about what isn’t working more openly, however now in nonjudgmental language. They know how and why to constructively reinforce the things they feel optimistic about. This begins to transform the tension into motivation. With continued practice teams find optimal ways to co-create and co-operate on their projects together, and they begin to evolve a collaborative intelligence that is intuitive in place of what was previously a closed and self-protective group think.

The team you are on could do its important work even more effectively if there was less conflict and politics and more communication! The TESI provides guidance on how to get there.


Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

October 31, 2014

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below. Listen to our recent webinar on these pitfalls and then let us know your thoughts and additional pitfalls you see on our blog

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.

Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.
Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.

Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.
Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.

Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.

Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. As we described in an earlier article, people can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.

Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.


Communicating Around the Team Table

January 6, 2014

team_hugAsk any team what they need to improve most and they are like to say “Communications!”  And they are right.  Any team that communicates well has the foundational tools to respond well to stress, conflict, changes and to have a positive mood.  So there’s a lot in it for you as a team leader or team member to improve team communications.  Fortunately, this can be done. Remember all those phrases like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or a stitch in time saves nine.  Apply this tested savvy to teams and you know it’s time to improve how you speak and listen to one another.  This is one of the seven competencies in the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®), described in our book The Emotionally Intelligent Team. But if communication is so important why is it often such a failure?  Frankly, it’s not a complex answer.  The skills needed have not been taught, fostered and insisted upon; mediocrity is too often accepted.  Let’s start with noting the key parts to good communication.

Communication is what team members do to connect with others so that they can understand the collection of goals that are being pursued and how well each team member is proceeding in the attempt to satisfy his/her needs.  Communication consists of the following ingredients as identified in The Emotionally Intelligent Team:
•    Sender:  the person who transmits the information
•    Receiver:  the person to whom the information is transmitted
•    Message:  the information transmitted
•    Meaning:  the intent of the message
•    Feeling:  adds depth to the message
•    Technique:  how the message is communicated

Communication is how people interact with each other so they can satisfy their needs and desires to make life better.  To communicate, one person (the sender) must transmit information to someone else (the receiver).  This message can go to the whole team or to one person, but there has to be an effective exchange of a message or there is no communication.  For example, if a team member speaks about an issue, and another team member later believes he or she never heard of the topic, communication did not occur.

For effective communication to occur, the sender’s meaning must also be clearly understood by the receiver.  Meaning is conveyed by both verbal and nonverbal communication.  If the sender’s words are encouraging but he or she is looking down when speaking, the message and meaning are mixed.  Nonverbal communication is likely to convey more of the truth, so it is important that the sender’s verbal and nonverbal messages are congruent in order for the meaning to be accurately understood.

All communication has meaning, from the trivial – “Please post a notice of our meeting” – to that of huge consequence – “The building is on fire!”  The feeling component adds even more depth to the meaning.

Finally, technique is critical for effective communication.  Without the awareness and implementation of effective techniques, the message, meaning, and feeling in the communication is lost.  The following exercises will help build team communication.  We have provided many tips and exercises for working with team communications in our Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Facilitator’s Guide – TESI® Short.  Strengthening communication requires paying attention to the learning styles and preferences of the intended recipients and presenting the information accordingly.  It requires patience which leads to slowing down enough to check in and see if you are understood.  Most of all effective communication is highly rewarding, even if you slow down you get things done faster because when the sender and receiver are communicating the results are sustainable.


Can Virtual Teams Demonstrate Emotional & Social Intelligence?

December 30, 2011

by Marcia Hughes, Donna Dennis, James Terrell

When Manuel cut off Maria and implied her research was simplistic during the recent team webinar, most of the other team members checked out and started doing email.  Maria wiped a tear away and swore to herself that she wouldn’t risk participating again.  The Team Leader, who is a top notch engineer and is signed up for his first management training class next month, said nothing.  This interaction cost the team and the organization in terms of engagement, trust, and willingness to take risks with one another, yet nothing may ever be done about it.  Virtual teams face big challenges in being able to connect at an interpersonal level.  They are challenged with non-verbal communication, conflict resolution and forming a strong identity.  Virtual teams are likely to struggle more than other teams in using their brain biology support system of mirror neurons, spindle cells and oscillators, which Dan Goleman and Richard Boyatzis recently described as core to using social intelligence (Harvard Business Review OnPoint, Spring 2011).

Yet no matter how big the challenges virtual teams are proliferating. So what should a good leader and organization do?  Applying a team centered model to measure and build ESI (emotional and social intelligence) will provide the framework for understanding and proceeding successfully to build measurable team ESI skills.  First, let’s understand what we mean by ESI and by a virtual team.

ESI is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. 

 Another way to think about ESI is that it encompasses your ability to recognize and manage your own skills and to recognize and respond effectively to those of others. These skills, or their lack, are exhibited daily by individuals, leaders and teams.  The question is how well these engagement skills are demonstrated.  The answer is to have a deliberate process for expanding the skills the particular team needs.

Virtual teams are teams that are working from dispersed locations so that they do not have the opportunity to work together face to face frequently.

ESI challenges for virtual teams include:

  • Developing emotional awareness of one another
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Developing trust
  • Communications challenges prevail due to:
    • Confused or ignored commitments on response time to one another
    • Lack of visual and non-verbal cues
    • Often cultural and language differences
    • Lack of emotional and social tags that create a sense of connection
    • Relying on email to get work done

These challenges need to be taken seriously because they can cost the organization, team and individuals in many ways including through lessened engagement, decreased productivity, higher turnover, and missed creative opportunities.  Fortunately, these challenges can be addressed.  By using a solid model through which the team members are given a voice about their functioning as a team their ESI can measurably grow.

The model we explore using is the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®), which is composed of seven scales that measure a team’s strengths or challenges.  The survey is an internal 360 on team performance as it results from team members responding confidentially to a survey about their team performance.  With the data in hand from the survey, the team can frankly discuss their strengths and opportunities as well as their different experiences of being on the team.  Best of all they can then create an action plan to support their development.  Later the team can retake the TESI and measure their progress, which will be depicted through a pre-post chart.

7 TESI Skills & Opportunities for Virtual Teams

Team Identity reflects how well the team connects with one another and demonstrates belongingness and pride in the team.  It also includes role and responsibility clarification. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Making agreements and keeping them- trust builds through keeping commitments in virtual teams
  • Establishing communication agreements, e.g.  response time
  • Clarifying roles & responsibilities
  • Creating a logo or motto
  • Naming themselves

Communication reflects how accurately the team members send and receive emotional and cognitive information.  It indicates how well they listen, encourage participation, share information and discuss sensitive matters.  Communication indicates the extent to which team members acknowledge contributions and give feedback to one another.  Trust must be built faster in virtual teams and if key components are not attended to early, the team is not likely to have the foundation it needs to get work done at a distance. Trust is initially built by making and keeping agreements.  Thus strong communication strategies will support the team in moving forward to experiencing trust beginning with trusting the communication process.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Establishing a communication process with understood time commitments
  • Practicing active listening virtually
  • Setting up conversations in pairs – virtually have coffee or lunch
  • Building reflective skills

Emotional awareness measures how sensitive and responsive team members are to each other’s feelings. Does the team value and respect negative as well as positive feelings? This scale measures the amount of attention the team pays to noticing, understanding, and respecting the feelings of its members.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Taking a personality assessment and use the information, such as the MBTI or Emergenetics. Understanding work preferences will facilitate smoother interactions with team members.
  • Working with the TESI to build understanding of preferences.
  • Matching technology to task
  • Telling stories about something that happened when working alone
  • Asking questions and listening, checking out the accuracy of what is understood

Motivation is the competency that shows the team’s level of internal resources for generating and sustaining the energy necessary to get the job done well and on time.  It gives feedback on whether creative thinking is promoted and whether competition is working for or against the team.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Setting stretch goals
  • Intentionally reinforce what works
  • Catch each other succeeding and talk about it- make sure team members know this is a part of what they need to do as well

Stress Tolerance is a measure of how well the team understands the types and intensity of the stress factors impacting its members and the team as a whole.  It addresses whether team members feel safe with one another, and if they will step in if someone on the team needs help. Stress tolerance reflects the level of work/life balance that the team is able to achieve including its ability to manage workload expectations.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Talking about a non-work joy
  • Agreeing to all go for a walk at the same time
  • Getting up and stretch during the virtual session

Conflict resolution scores show how willing the team is to engage in conflict openly and constructively without needing to get even.  It measures the ability to be flexible and to respond to challenging situations without blaming one another.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Expanding dispute resolution skills
  • Pacing one another
  • Practicing paying attention

Positive Mood reflects the positive attitude of the team in general as well as when the team is under pressure.  Positive mood scores indicate the members’ willingness to provide encouragement, their sense of humor, and how successful the team expects to be.  It is a major support for a team’s flexibility and resilience.  Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Going to the movies together (in different cities)
  • Supporting team members in setting up a time for two to use Skype or an equivalent and have a drink together, be it coffee or…
  • Making a big and consistent deal of celebrating successes!

There are many resources that will support your ability to use these resources.  Attend or watch our webinar on this topic, our books Developing Emotional Intelligence:  Exercises for Leaders and Teams, The Handbook for Developing Emotional Intelligence, A Facilitator’s Guide to Team Emotional and Social Intelligence, A Coach’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence, The Emotionally Intelligent Team, and Emotional Intelligence in Action, Second Edition.

We welcome your contacting us for more information.


Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

October 7, 2011

Collaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity.  As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened.  We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values.  With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

Collaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills.  Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey.  When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively.  Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process.  Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders.  Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal.  More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator.  Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch.  Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations.  These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

 10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

1.     Be aware.  Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved.  Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.

2.     Apply Intention and Attention.  Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how.  Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track.  Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together.  Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.

3.     Commit to the process.  Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process.  One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success.  You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.

4.     Attend to others.  Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection.  It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another.  You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process.  Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.

5.     Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!

6.     Express your opinions and share your knowledge.  If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved.  Remember your actions speak louder than your words.

7.     List commonalities and differences.  It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.

8.     Apply divergent thinking.  Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours.  At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.

9.     Be appreciative.  Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work.  Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.

10.  Make decision(s).  At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer.  Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing.  Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works.  Is anything askew?  Did you take on too much at once?  Does anything else need adjusting?  If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success.  What’s not to like about that scenario!