Take your team from 'me' to 'we'

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Mar 16 2018 by Doug Upchurch Print This Article

A major sporting event has just come to a close: the Winter Olympics, which saw some of the best athletes from across the globe come together for the ultimate showdown in winter sport. Unlike most other sporting events, at the Olympic Games, even when you don’t play a team sport, you’re still on a team. This highlights the power of what can happen when individuals (who may be wildly different from one another) come together for a shared goal.

The world of sport has strong parallels to the world of work. As Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report observed, “Ninety percent of companies are redesigning their organisations to be more dynamic, team-centric, and connected.“

To succeed, both athletes and professionals have to be fully integrated team players who know themselves and who show good working relationships with their teammates, whether that’s on the field or in the office. Similarly, the key for teams to unlock their success is self-awareness. Here’s why:

You take responsibility for yourself

If you don’t hold yourself accountable it’s going to be hard to try to hold others accountable.

Before any team can be truly effective, individuals need to take responsibility for themselves. This means understanding your strengths and weakness, your interpersonal preferences and how you come across to others.

When you take responsibility for yourself, it makes it hard to dismiss the aspects of your behavior that aren’t serving you. Instead, you own the way you show up and embrace opportunities to make adjustments depending on the demands of your environment.

You get behind the ‘why’ of someone else’s behavior

You can’t work successfully with a team member if you don’t understand why they operate the way they do.

Team success includes knowing about both your own and others’ strengths and areas for improvement; understanding similarities and differences in the way you orientate yourselves to the world; and recognizing that team members may have different styles of communicating.

Without understanding who you work with, you are subject to a guessing game of how your team members will receive your contributions.

You use your understanding to develop better relationships and results

Self-awareness enables team success because when we understand ourselves as well as others, we are able to make better choices, which leads to better outcomes.

When you understand yourself and others, you can flex your style as the situation calls for it and develop strategies to adapt and connect your preferred style to your colleagues.

Essentially, adapting and connecting allows you to meet your teammates where they are, while still showing who you are in a way that is flexible but firm.

What colours make up your team?

At Insights we talk about self-awareness through the use of colour - this gives a non-judgemental language for teams to talk about interpersonal preferences. Our colour energy model, Insights Discovery, is underpinned by Jungian psychology principles and is a way to cut through the complexity of why we behave the way we do.

Using this, we are able to describe our personalities in accordance with our preferences, aligned with three main spectrums: introversion/extraversion, thinking/feeling, sensation/intuition. Insights Discovery takes this information and plots our interpersonal preferences on a wheel model with four colour energies - Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue.

An important aspect of using this (and how to talk about personality in any context), is to acknowledge that we all have aspects of all four colour energies in our personalities. Just as we all are dynamic and ever-changing individuals, our personalities are multi-faceted. What the model helps us do though, is to acknowledge that there are some aspects of our behavior that come more easily or naturally to us than others.

Once equipped with an understanding of the colour language, we can engage in conversations about how to adapt and connect our styles to one another. Through such a framework, you can confront problems in a positive, practical and engaging way that encourages greater morale and team spirit.

Colour energies in real life

Liz is managing a project that needs her colleague Melissa’s involvement. Liz, who leads with sunshine yellow energy (sociable, dynamic, demonstrative), sets up a meeting with Melissa, who leads with cool blue energy (cautious, precise, questioning).

Liz understands that she and Melissa have different styles and she knows that she’ll need to adapt her style if she wants the meeting to go well. So Liz collates data so that she is prepared to answer Melissa’s questions. In fact, she even sends some of the data ahead of the meeting so that Melissa has time to review it before they chat.

By the same token, Melissa knows Liz has a strong demonstrative preference. Melissa knows going into her meeting that this can translate into Liz’s tendency to ‘speak to think’. Because of this, Melissa knows she should allow time for this in the meeting and makes sure to take time out from her pursuit of data to discuss possibilities with Liz.

A long hard look in the mirror

This example shows both women engaging in a way that takes responsibility for their behaviour, gets behind the ‘why’ of someone else’s behavior and demonstrates strategies to adapt and connect.

Self-awareness engages individuals to be mutually responsible for the success of the team at all levels of the organisation, even when they’re not the leader.

Furthermore, if you understand your unique mix of colour energies, you have the benefit of being able to adapt your behaviour to meet the needs of others, which improves your relationships and results.

Ultimately, you don’t need everyone to agree, but you do need everyone to be able to think outside of themselves and come together to get the results your business relies on.


About The Author

Doug Upchurch
Doug Upchurch

Doug Upchurch is the chief learning architect for Insights Learning and Development. With over 22 years of experience in the learning and development industry and 17 years with Insights, Doug has worked with teams at all levels in industries including high-tech, pharmaceutical, biotech/life sciences, energy, health care, real estate and more.