Team Building


Last week a group that I belong to had the injection of 3 members taking the group to 10. WOW the energy in the room was amplified tenfold and I really had the sense that the new members had shifted the dynamic 100% in a brief hour.

Personality was one aspect of this impact. I could imagine that at least 2 of the 3 members had a preference for Extraversion and Thinking. Since we use Insights as our assessment tool of choice these new members brought a significant injection of Red energy.

Believe me when I say I was awake for the whole meeting. The pace increased and I had the sense that people were processing quickly and would not tolerate being bored. That certainly caught my attention and it was an exciting element to think of how the conversation was going to be interesting and challenging.

There would be absolutely no going back to a more bucolic pace. We were in for a different kind of meeting.

What’s comfortable and familiar is seductive for many. Even change junkies have places in their lives where they fall back into the familiar. How to you handle change in a group? Are you ready to rewrite “how things are done around here”. to accommodate the needs of the new additions?

Category : Communication | Other Assessments | Team Building | Blog

Rule of life #32 We like people who are like us.

Because this is so true and unconscious, we tend to attract people who are similar as friends, as people we hire to work in and on our business. Why? For one thing if we look through the lens of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, people of the same type speak the same language. There is little need to explain a lot as people of the same type filter information in a similar way and have similar processes and criteria for decision-making.

Often the people I work with have Intuition as their dominant or secondary function. While planning a facilitation, we agree on an approach quite readily. It makes total sense from our perspective. It is so seductively easy. The danger is that we may not have a full spectrum perspective and can miss the mark depending on the audience.

The same holds true for your business. While group think makes for surface looking smooth sailing, it can be a recipe for disaster. Those you have surrounded yourself with may all agree, but forget that your opinion may not be the one that matters the most. The end user needs to have their needs and expectations met. Is your team tuned in to what those requirements may be? Do you have people who understand and can speak for a point of view that may differ from yours?

We are in a race to make decisions: to get things done. Having a diversity of perspectives may require a longer process, but the end result  will be better informed.

Category : Team Building | Blog

Language is imprecise. We use words to describe an image that we have in our heads and assume that other people are applying definitions that are similar to ours. This is not just true for grand concepts such as truth, justice, beauty, integrity or freedom. Next time you have dinner guests take one of these words that people use all the time and ask two questions. The first question requires a simple yes or no – “Do you know what it means?” The second is to ask everyone “What does it mean to you?”

People will generally all agree that they know what the word means in response to question #1. Then in response to question #2 you will get the same number of definitions as there are people at the dinner table. Introducing a commonly held definition may help somewhat but people are still apt to apply their own perspective.

A coaching client (ENTP) saw themselves as supportive and a team player. This was true in respect to direct reports and those in an underdog position who were deemed to be trying their best. To these people this person was a champion and would go the extra mile in a kind and compassionate manner. What the client didn’t “see” was just how differently peers were treated. People at the same level in the organization were held to a completely different set of criteria, and they were expected to be capable, efficient and effective without any need for support. The approach was “show me you are competent and you will have my respect. Otherwise stay out of my way.”


Different people in the organization had opposing opinions about this person’s character, but the overall opinion was not serving this client well because people were confused. What added to the confusion was how blind this person was to their double standard. In this person’s model of the world, it was a waste of their time being “nice” to people at their level of seniority. After all they were being paid to do an equivalent job. The end result was a handful of people saw this person as a team player and others saw them as rude.

Patrick Lencioni author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team says that team ONE is the team that you are on not the team that you lead. With that in mind, defining oneself as a team player when the team that counts doesn’t agree is a problem. You may argue that this person was “right” that there ought to be an expectation of competence but that misses the point . Sometimes being “right” is a cold and lonely place.

Category : Coaching | Relationships | Team Building | Blog

I am often dismayed about how people discredit the validity of tools such as the MBTI in casual online chat. For me there are two main purposes for using the MBTI, one is for gaining self knowledge and the second is for understanding others. The tool is just that a tool, the real work is in seeing if what the assessment says is an accurate reflection of who you are and how you behave. The value is in the exploration and subsequent discovery that follows.

When you need to open a can you need a can opener. When you need to open a conversation on differences between people an assessment tool like the Myers Briggs is an excellent starting place and provides a common language for people to begin to have a new understanding.

Maybe an example will help: during an introduction to the MBTI with an intact team of ten people, a discussion of the differing needs for those with Sensing and those with Intuition opened a world of understanding for this team. Nine of the team members had a preference for Sensing and only one person preferred Intuition. Imagine this person’s relief when he saw how the majority of the team naturally spent time discussing the details of the day to day operations and how naturally challenging that this was to his preferred way of seeing patterns and implications.

It was an “Ugly Duckling” moment where this man recognized that his team members simply processed differently and that his “Swan” nature had a role around the pond. In turn his request for setting the context for all of the details with a reference to the big picture “why are we having this conversation” allowed him to stay in the conversation without tuning out.

While the mandate of the team was in alignment with a detail focus they also needed to keep their eye on future needs and possibilities. The MBTI proved to be a vehicle for reaffirming the valuable contribution that each member made – for the individual and for the team.

Tools are neutral. Some are better than others for certain applications. People have their favourites. I also believe that you need more than one or two to get as full a picture as possible and even then it all comes back to what you do with it. You can cook a wonderful meal without a can opener but when you need one – nothing else will do. When you need a vehicle to open people up and build understanding the MBTI provides a neutral framework and a practical place to begin.

Category : Team Building | Blog