Emotional Intelligence Wisdom to Injured NBA Player

October 26, 2017

“Be sad. Be mad… Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day…. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than ever.”

NBA forward Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics experienced a devastating ankle injury. Many players offered caring messages. The one by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stands out. His advice distills the essence of applying emotional intelligence (EI) to life’s setbacks, challenges, and worries.. The Instagram message to Gordon Hayward:

Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of its success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

This healing process calls for applying all 16 skills found in the EQi personal assessment from self-regard and emotional self-awareness to assertiveness, empathy, stress tolerance, impulse control, optimism and happiness. Life is a journey and a continuous learning opportunity. Gordon is facing a dramatic and poignant life event. Many parts of our journey are less dramatic, yet they are always opportunities to grow into our best self.

As we write this we particularly honor our brother, Ken Hughes. During his long and challenging journey with multiple sclerosis he gallantly faced loss and pain. For the last years of his life he couldn’t stand, walk or run. Yet he smiled, laughed, teased and was an honor to be with. Salutes to Captain Ken!

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Helping Teams Where it Hurts

October 22, 2015

pie-7-3dWhile most of the work for organizations is accomplished by teams, just imagine team productivity if their pain was attended to! You can listen to our recent webinar to gain many specific strategies on how to help teams make this transition. In this article we will highlight several areas where we’ve seen considerable team pain and strategies for resolving the concerns.

Much of team pain revolves around emotions including as part of how they handle relationships, how they manage their impulses, and how team members communicate their emotions and manage their assertiveness. Each of these and so many other challenges are resolved by effective use of emotional and social intelligence, often labeled EI. Emotional Intelligence, or better yet, emotional and social effectiveness, 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. Teams benefit from team members who are skilled in effective EI and where they apply EI at the group level.

7 team competencies measured by the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey (TESI) provide a strategic format for understanding team pain.

Team Identity reflects the level of pride and connection members feel with the team. It indicates how well the team demonstrates belongingness, and how strong a sense of role clarity is established for each member.

Pain/ Challenge points show up as:

  • Disengaged / apathetic behavior
  • Self-focused not team just a group of individuals
  • Failure to know & agree on goals/mission

Solutions or strategic actions include:

  • Facilitated retreat with an expert guiding the team through challenges and to develop new ways
  • Build WIFFM (what’s in it for me and for my team) so everyone knows WHY they are on they are on the team and why everyone else is there as well.
  • Share responsibilities.

Motivation 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 if members are driven to achieve together.

Pain / Challenge points show up as:

  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of purpose
  • Lack of advocacy

Solution

  • Team collaborates to establish purpose through focused discussion and an emphasis on reaching agreement that then is broadly stated and made visible to the full organization
  • Establish reliable consistent communication
  • Leaders advocate for the team and team members know about the advocacy.

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?

Pain / Challenge points show up as:

  • Missing non-verbal communication, resulting in many feeling misunderstood
  • Feeling wounded, taken for granted or not being seen
  • Ignoring team members

Solution

  • Non-verbal skills building
  • Listen with the ears of your heart through active listening practice and then keeping attention on continuing to build this skill
  • Focus on each member at various times in team meetings, have them give brief presentations, lead a topical discussion or take on other responsibilities.

Communication reflects how accurately the team sends and receives emotional and cognitive information. It indicates how well team members listen, encourage participation, share information and discuss sensitive matters. It indicates the extent to which team members acknowledge contributions and give feedback to one another.

Pain / Challenge is reflected through:

  • Poor listeners
  • Introverts not finding ways to engage
  • Missing the message

Solution

  • Active listening practice
  • Develop new engagement strategies to bring team members together in new pairs or small groups that haven’t worked together as much
  • Match message & receiver by literally stopping during communications sometimes to see if what one is responding to reflects understanding of what the other intended to communicate.

Stress Tolerance measures 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.

Pain / Challenge

  • Increasingly being asked to do more with less
  • Team members feeling like they are in an emotionally unsafe work environment
  • Resistance

Solution

  • Listen & respond
  • Facilitated intervention
  • Establish positive approach by building speaking and acting strategies that create a positive environment – catch people doing things well and commend them!

Conflict Resolution capabilities 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. Conflict is natural, and will happen when any team is engaged in fulfilling its purpose. It can be an opportunity for growth or it can destroy a team.

Pain / Challenge

  • Increasingly being asked to do more with less
  • Abuse of power by leaders or de facto leaders
  • Poor impulse control

Solution

  • Build individual EI skills through individual and group coaching and training
  • Set boundaries and enforce accountability
  • Train and hold team members accountable to work together to resolve conflict.

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. Positive Mood gives feedback on how well the team deals with pressure and if the team has a can-do attitude.

Pain / Challenge

  • Missing work/life balance
  • No support from leaders above
  • Dysfunctional organizational culture

Solution

  • Act to manage workload
  • Create support among the team members
  • Advocate for organizational change – show the way through your team’s functioning!

The benefits to noticing where your teams have pain and proactively responding are quite likely to exceed your expectations! Give it a go!


Why Teamwork Gets So Tricky

May 28, 2015

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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.


Manage Your Resilience Meter: Your Guide to Positivity, Productivity and Well-Being

January 5, 2015

resilience_meterppt_rev2Managing resilience in today’s fast paced world of high expectations is tough.  Change and challenge are often the norm whether it comes from a new program being unveiled, a complete reshuffle due to a merger or parents moving into a care facility.  Too often the challenges become just too much and frequently trigger inflexibility, feelings of overwhelm and loss of composure.

You can build your capabilities so challenging times don’t take you out.  Watch your resilience meter grow to full potential! Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills are fundamental to managing these stress points and maintaining health and well-being.  Six EI skills are pivotal to building your reservoir of emotional reserves: emotional self-awareness, self-regard, impulse control, stress tolerance, optimism, and flexibility.  A healthy use of these skills will build your positivity and create the leverage to promote success at the workplace and personally.

Resilience is of growing interest as researchers demonstrate its influence on physical and mental health, well-being, the aging process and overall quality of life.  Additionally there is growing recognition of the benefits to teams and workplace productivity with a resilient workforce.  There is also a connection with the willingness to take on risks and to explore creative options. If we feel more positive about ourselves and life, we have the energy to experiment.

You have many strategies available to help expand your resilience.  This article will provide tips and strategies as well as review some of the key recognitions about resilience and its connection with positivity.  The root for the word “resilience” is “resile,” which means “to bounce or spring back.” Thus a key part of the definition of resilience is to bounce back.  The definition has expanded to include the ability to contain challenges and to develop reserves that can be tapped into when one is faced with environmental pressures and demands.  When we speak of resilience, we are referring to the ability to keep things in perspective so that many potential challenges are simply taken in stride.  When a large challenge surfaces, there is likely to be stress, but the reserve strength built with resilience allows us to contain the issue rather than going down a negative and downward spiral that starts feeding itself.

Assets and resources within us, our lives and our environment facilitate the capacity for adapting and bouncing back when there is adversity.  Our resilience is likely to ebb and flow not only across our lifetime but even across the day or week if there is a lot going on.  Yet, the more habits we have developed to build and maintain our positivity, the less we will give in to negative emotions and the more we will intentionally seek positive emotions that will enhance our capacities.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, Crown Publishing, (2009) and Love 2.0, Hudson St. Press, (2013), has provided a great deal to help us understand the field of positivity, which is closely related to resilience.  Should you be working as a coach or team facilitator it’s likely you’ll use the two concepts interchangeably.  As a lead scientist in the field of positivity, Fredrickson demonstrates through her research and that of colleagues that living with a high level of positivity has measurably positive results.

Benefits of Positivity / Resilience

•    Psychological benefits include being more optimistic, more open minded and more willing to check out possibilities.  First, being positive feels good!  Being open minded is critical to noticing and considering multiple options to a challenge.  It means that money, resources, or possibilities aren’t left on the table because our vision is too narrow to see them.  Negativity constricts our thinking and our vision.  It’s costly!
•    Mental benefits include expanding awareness and mindfulness.  It opens our thinking capacity to new possibilities. With positivity we can be better at savoring what works instead of being focused on what doesn’t.  Right away you can see the difference in your stress levels and the toll taken when you are focusing on the positive compared to the negative.

•    Social benefits pay out at the individual, team and workplace levels.  With positivity we have more resilience. Emotions are contagious, thus sharing positive emotions and actions creates an upward spiral of expanding relationships, which then creates reserves for getting through hard times and conflict together.  Resilience is indispensable if collaboration is truly going to occur. There is also interesting research showing that when we approach people with an emphasis on positive engagement racial bias is reduced or disappears.  Positivity, p. 67-68. That has amazing potential!
•    Physical benefits include a higher quality of life and a longer one.  As Barbara Fredrickson writes “positivity is now linked to solid and objective biological markers of health.  For instance, people’s positivity predicts lower levels of stress-related hormones and higher levels of growth related and bond related hormones. Positivity also sends out more dopamine and opioids, enhances immune system functioning and diminishes inflammatory responses to stress.  With positivity you are literally steeped in a different biochemical stew.”  Positivity, pp. 93-94. Thus positivity results in lower blood pressure, less pain, fewer colds and better sleep.  Rest assured for this and the many other health benefits she cites, she backs her assertions up with research citations.  There is even research showing the power of hugs, wonderful, feel-good, authentically caring touch.  Now we knew that, didn’t we!
Three studies reported in a 2006 article on resilience and positivity later in life found that daily positive emotions serve to moderate stress reactivity and mediate stress recovery. They found that differences in psychological resilience accounted for meaningful variation in daily emotional responses to stress. Higher resilience predicted that negative emotions wouldn’t be as impactful, particularly on days characterized by heightened stress. Additionally they found that the experience of positive emotions functions to assist high-resilient individuals in their ability to recover effectively from daily stress. “Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life.” By Ong, Anthony D.; Bergeman, C. S.; Bisconti, Toni L.; Wallace, Kimberly A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 91(4), Oct 2006, 730-749.

Tips and Strategies
Use your emotional intelligence to grow your positivity and be more resilient.  This is an internal strength so the key skills to grow, which are found in the EQi 2.0 are: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control and optimism.  The key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance.

You can expand your individual resilience by:
•    Redefining productivity from working on emails to getting with someone
•    Prioritize meditation, fun and family
•    Recognize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself
•    Embrace your bigger YES!
•    Develop your 2% Solution as I describe in my book, Life’s 2% Solution.

Team resilience can be expanded by:
•    Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships.  Develop positivity deliberately.
•    Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team.  Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
•    Our sense of connection drives our willingness to be helpful.  This is the heart of collaboration.  Create connections, have team members work in small groups and then take time to reflect on the experience.  Build awareness of the interpersonal connections as well as of the objective details of the project.


What Stress Tolerance Gives the Teams of Today

September 12, 2014

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Stress is defined as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change.” by Hans Stele, one of the first researchers to investigate the subject. Well into the second decade of 21st century, the demand for change seems to be both constant and increasing. Indeed, we tell teams these days that stress is often a euphemism for pain. Today’s teams are increasingly willing to speak about their stress and, fortunately, there are many powerful ways to manage stress.

We can help teams respond resiliently to the often irrational demands to “do more with less” by utilizing the early warning system that their emotional self-awareness provides through reading the emotional signals of the situation accurately and responding to them effectively. Team members need to know how to respond to the complexity of observing and learning how each of their fellow team members automatically responds to stress. It is this automatic response that can be so problematic for teams and individuals because it is hardwired in the brain. It automatically cranks into gear when it encounters stimuli in the world that is threatening — the sound of your boss’s voice when she gets “that tone,” the look that means the boss isn’t happy because her expectations have not been met and you are responsible.

One of the most enduring ways to build stress tolerance is by building strong relationships among team members. That takes time, effort, flexibility, trust and every so often a dose of forgiveness. As you learn how to respond to each other when under stress, you will become more aware of your own behavior patterns. With that key data in hand, you can start rewiring those patterns.

The Seven Ingredients of Stress Tolerance for Teams

  1. Environmental Awareness. Awareness of one’s physical and social environments is essential. To some extent one’s ability to accurately read what is expected within the social environment actually determines how much stress is experienced. Being conscious of and regulating the emotional pressures in the social environment and the physical tensions in one’s body gives team members the ability to manage stress. This can be done through attentive listening to determine what you, and those around you are feeling, and why. These listening skills are often called emotional self-awareness and empathy respectively. To read them accurately team members need to silence the cognitive chatter in their mind and re-sensitize their awareness to the subtle messages they are constantly receiving. Focusing one’s attention on his/her breath is one of the easiest techniques for doing this.
  1. Assertiveness. When team members have accurately sensed what is going on and why, the next step in stress management is to tell the team. For instance, if your boss gave a plum project to a colleague, you might say, “I feel disrespected because you promised that work to me, and then you gave it to someone else.” This kind of a self-disclosure is “taking your emotional pulse in public,” and the more comfortable team members feel in doing this in appropriate circumstances, the better your team will function. Stating one’s own reality provides immediate, accurate information to the team that they can synthesize and respond to right away. It’s efficient. It’s accurate. It takes the guess work out of the equation. One doesn’t have to hope that the team will figure it out, and the team doesn’t have to hope they can read your mind. It’s your responsibility to tell people what you need and want.

Of course, self-disclosure is risky business. No wonder it’s so important to spend time building relationships and deepening trust. The other critical factor is functional, adult communication. The stronger your team’s communication skills, the easier it is to be assertive. Coaches and consultants can do wonders in facilitating a shorter learning curve for these skills. Their expertise and objectivity can move a team to a higher level of performance faster than any other strategy.

  1. Self-Regard. Self-regard calls for team members to accept themselves, warts and all. The only way people can change their behaviors and work more successfully together as a team is if they feel confident that they are valued by the team. They have to be able to trust that even if they make a mistake, they won’t be punished. When a team member makes a mistake, accountability is appropriate. A mistake is an opportunity to teach and to learn. Both are invaluable. If embarrassment and social rejection are used, instead of teaching and learning, self-regard, creativity and risk-taking all plummet. On high-functioning teams, all members respect and care for the self- regard of each team member. That’s what gives the team a sense of identity and makes the members feel like they want to belong. You know your teammates are looking out for you, and although they may offer constructive feedback about your performance within the team, you know that they would never criticize you publicly.
  1. Wellness. Because stress endangers one’s physical health, high-performance teams value wellness and check in regularly with strategies for supporting each other’s physical and mental well-being. This has to be done very elegantly so it does not come across as judgmental. You can be a supportive teammate by your behavior. For instance, if a team member is trying to tackle a weight problem, don’t bring junk food to a meeting. .
  1. Humor. When the going gets tough, the tough can laugh at themselves. Laughter actually stimulates the production of endorphins, strengthens the immune function, and reduces the levels of highly corrosive stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine. In addition to the neurochemical benefits of laughter, humor helps us refocus our perspective. Having that kind of flexibility not only helps teams manage stress, it helps them be highly innovative in solving the problems that are their work and purpose. Teams will function more effectively when their members heed the popular adage, “Those who laugh… lasts!”
  1. Flexibility. To be able to bend without breaking in the daily winds of change at work is a critical ingredient of stress tolerance for teams. Strength in a team is well reflected in the old parable about being able to break a bundle of 10 sticks one of the time but finding it impossible to break all of them at once. By knowing each other’s strengths, complementing them and working together, the team achieves its power. However, endurance and flexibility are even more valuable than this kind of strength. Endurance in the workplace can actually best be enhanced by more periods of rest. Many people at work have been running so hard and so long that they are literally exhausted. Chronic exhaustion diminishes the power of the team, because team members lose resilience, creativity and especially stress tolerance!

Flexibility comes from stretching muscles just a little bit further each day. It does make the muscles stronger but more importantly, it gives the ability to bend and reach to the full extent of one’s capacity. This is what it takes to be able to adapt to change. This is what it takes to be able to envision new strategies and novel solutions to the problems in the workplace. This is what it takes to be able to adjust to a global marketplace which is fueled by an ongoing explosion of knowledge and unparalleled technological advantage. In such an environment it is essential to be able to bend and not break.

  1. Humility. This is probably one of the most powerful ingredients of stress tolerance, but it is also one of the most advanced. Jim Collins pointed out in Good to Great (2001) that humility shows up in great leaders as the ability to attribute successes to the people around them while personally taking responsibility for the failures themselves. The ability to add this ingredient to the recipe for stress tolerance means that a team member has worked diligently to develop a larger, more comprehensive vision of life. That person has learned how to weave together the experiences, relationships and priorities in his/her life to produce whatever is most meaningful and valuable to that individual. Humble team members realize that it is impossible to meet goals without the help of others and that sometimes circumstances will thwart even the best of efforts, but perseverance will produce the best results possible, and that will be enough.

We sincerely encourage you practitioners of team wellness to always include (if not start with) some practice in the TESI competency of Stress Tolerance when you are helping your teams relieve the pain of doing more with less in a culture that never considers how much is enough!


Building Team Resilience Through Positive Mood

February 24, 2014

PIE-color-pos-mood Positive attitudes on your team will build resilience and influence every dimension of teamwork. Positivity will impact how well people get along with one another, how pleased they are to be on the team, their motivation and their creative thinking. That is why this is one of the seven team competencies the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) measures. Research Dr. Barbara Fredrickson describes in her books Positivity and Love 2.0 provides the scientific grounding to prove the power of positive engagement. Because most work is accomplished through teams, we are finding a tremendous thirst to better understand what this means for teams and how to assist teams in growing their positive mood.

Developing teams is a complex challenge that never stops requiring positive and proactive attention. One of the challenges to team effectiveness is the tendency for people to think and act individually and objectively, that is to focus exclusively on the task rather than each other. Busy team members can become so externally focused on projects and customers that they don’t focus on themselves or on the team. This lack of internal team focus can feel safer for several reasons: 1) addressing interpersonal relationships can seem much less controllable or scientific and less predictable and thus too uncertain; 2) team members may not be trained to be good at team or human dynamics, they enjoy being an expert but they aren’t expert in this situation; 3) their external focus in getting all the jobs done may leave them drained with little energy left for the team, and this is often compounded by highly demanding organizational politics; and 4) the team leader may be a technical expert in his/her production world but likely is not trained to be a team leader and to manage complex interpersonal situations and to build motivation while maintaining accountability; and 5) the full organization may not be aware of the challenges their teams are experiencing nor understand how they could support the team in effective change. This is why your team needs to make conscious, intentional efforts to build its positivity and resilience if you want to maximize productivity.

Art Aron, a human relations scientist, conducted research that shows how people move from a sense of separation – me and you – to a sense of being together – us or we. His research was done with couples, but the same principles apply to teams, which are a group of people working together to solve problems. The more overlap the individual team members see between each other, the more likely they will have a sense of “us” and that leads to a series of positive results. The more positive we are with each other, the more overlap we see between ourselves and others and that leads to feeling more openness and connection with others. In turn, this increased connection leads to helpful responses among team members that build trust – team members learn they can rely on considerate and supportive responses from one another. Most people will say they agree with the maxim that “All of us are smarter than one of us.” Understanding the dynamics of positive mood helps show us how to act in order to achieve its powerful effects.

Fredrickson writes that positivity broadens one’s view from “me” to “us” and then to “all of us” not just the part of the group that looks or thinks like you. Thus building positive attitudes within your team will expand the effectiveness of your diversity efforts. We often talk about emotions being highly contagious and that’s so for positivity, as well as for negativity. This makes it important for team leaders as well as all team members to be intentionally positive. Fredrickson explains that “positivity spreads because people unconsciously mimic emotional gestures and facial expressions of those around you … positivity breeds helpful, compassionate acts.” Furthermore, she points out that when we act positively with others we are likely proud of our engagement and “pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.” (Positivity, pp. 69-70) We are certain that’s what you want for your teams.

Furthermore, positivity is central to the ability to collaborate which is based on the ability to work jointly with one another, to listen to different perspectives and to find common answers. Collaborative Growth’s team model demonstrates how we bring team emotional and social intelligence competencies together to create collaborative intelligence. Frankly one of the easiest team strengths to build is positive mood so practice this and you will also build your team’s resilience.

Building Resilience and Positive Mood

resilience_meterppt100Resilience and positive mood are tightly connected. Resilience includes the ability to bounce back and relies on teams having a reserve to tap into when big challenges hit. That reserve is built by how we treat each other and what we expect of one another. The more positive members of a team are, the deeper the reserve and the less often they are likely to need to tap into it. Positivity builds perspective so teams take challenges in stride rather than making a big deal of them and increasing their stress instead of their resilience.

 

Tips and Strategies

resilience_meterppt_rev2Use your emotional intelligence to grow your teams’ positivity and resilience. Key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance. Of course while you’re building this team competency you will find that some team members are more positive than others so you will need to work with the whole team while respecting the individual differences as the team builds composite resilient strength. Tips you might use are:

  • Build the habit of finding people doing something well and publicly thank them.
  • Start team meetings with a discussion of something that’s worked well recently. Then the team can move to strategic analysis and of how to cross map that skill to other requirements.
  • Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team. Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
  • Find purposefulness in the team work so the team feels the sense of being a part of something bigger than itself. A traditional way to do this is with Mission, Vision and Values statements. Make sure those statements are meaningful and that the team feels ownership and takes pride in them or they won’t help.
  • Support team members in taking time to be relaxed with each other so caring relationships are built resulting in the natural desire to shield each other’s back when needed.
  • Respond to comments made by one another. People want to be heard more than they want to be right. Applying skills such as active listening and empathetic responses will help people feel acknowledged and valued and that builds positivity and engagement.
  • Intentionally tap into the team wisdom. Your team knows what they need, however you may need to facilitate their recognizing and employing that wisdom. Take creative brainstorming time to explore topics such as: “What works that we can expand?” and “What do we want that we can influence?”

Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships. Develop positivity deliberately and expansively for the benefit of all individuals, teams and the organization.