Some time ago, I facilitated a group learning session where a team were set a task which made them confront their own personal prejudices and beliefs, some of which they may not have even been aware of…..
However, what the task also did was to prod at the very nerve centre of their moral compass. You see, in this scenario, possible life and death decisions were being made.
Some of the team decided that they were not prepared to make those decisions and abstained from the process. This resulted in a split in the group and when it came to making those hard decisions, they could not reach a consensus. The result? Failure for the whole group, conflict amongst team members, and some very heated exchange of views.
I wish I could have recorded what followed though, as it was a salutary lesson in compromise, understanding and conciliation.
The team decided that in order to be able to function together for the next task, they would talk through their differences, consider the polar opposite views, and reach an understanding and a new set of team rules which would enable them to move forwards.
So much so that they completed the following task within the timescale and to a very high standard. Smiles and high fives all round!
Some pertinent questions you may be asking:
- Was this easy? No
- Were personal views abandoned? No
- Did they agree ground rules for moving on? Yes
- Did they have a designated leader? No
How many teams faced with a similar set of circumstances would have crumbled, and ceased to be, or be forced to continue working together but with no trust or respect? Sound familiar? It probably does as most of us have been in these, or similar, situations. If you are in a high performing team, then this can be difficult to deal with; all teams at some stage in their lifetime are likely to be faced with storming a situation in order to move back to performing. The lesson here is that throughout the life of your team you may well be faced with curve balls or situations that test your togetherness, your teamwork, your integrity, your very reason for being.
As a Leader, then you should be observing, looking for the warning signs, being prepared to act and facilitate compromise, respect and trust before the cliff edge is crossed. It’s not every team that can achieve this rebalance without your leadership intervention.