High performing teams need balance

I read an interesting article today that quoted a UCLA neuroscientist who says that social skills are a multiplier that enables the harnessing of analytical skills, intelligence and competence.  This person says that well-connected teams who have good social interactions will work together to compliment the strengths and weaknesses of the team, achieving far more than a bunch of very smart individuals working on their own – that becoming more social is the key to being smarter, more productive and happier.

The article also quoted the results from a recent large survey into what makes a great leader – the most shocking one was that the percentage of leaders that scored high on having both a results focus and social skills was 0.77%!!! 

That is incredibly low and indicates that there is a long way to go in equipping highly successful results producers with the equivalent capability in social/relationship skills.  Apparently the neuroscientists have ascertained that one suppresses the other, so the challenge is mastering a balance of the two.

When you consider the impact this phenomenon has on the performance of leadership teams its no wonder that we hear so often about how dysfunctional Boards, Executive, Management and project teams are!

The problem can be that by the time a team brings in someone to help them communicate and relate more effectively the damage has already been done. At worst hearts have been hardened, decisions have been made and patterns of avoidance, blame and denial have set in as a result of people’s behaviour and/or lack of accountability and delivery.  At the least people have formed seemingly benign opinions about one another’s capability that limit what is truly possible in terms of performance.

The creation of a high performing team requires repairing that damage – and it can’t be a Band-Aid job. 

The key to repairing any relationship is taking 100% responsibility for perceptions formed, actions taken, behaviours and the impact that all of those things has had on the relationship.  In a group of highly successful results producers, doing this work takes humility, commitment and enormous courage on the part of each individual team member.  Done well, it can completely replace the existing operating state of the team and transform it to a high performance state.  Done badly, nothing fundamentally changes and people’s cynicism about what is possible becomes more deeply entrenched.

The process begins with the team leader taking a stand for achieving high levels of performance and having the courage to take the journey themselves along with their fellow team members.

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