Relationships at work. Leadership is hard work, and I believe that to really lead others it is necessary to know them, and care for them. Organisations are based on relationships, and where those relationships are strong and warm, friction is minimised and there is a feeling of support. Where relationships are less warm, people can feel isolated, politics thrives and output suffers.
So teams need to have warm and trusting relationships, but these don’t always form naturally. Good relationships have to be developed and nurtured; groups rarely come together as teams – that is just not human nature. Humans can be tribal; people form alliances, look for threats, isolate those they see as competition – and this behaviour often happens in the workplace unless it is actively deterred.
One of the key roles of the leader is to build the team, but team building is widely misunderstood. Spending time together does not usually lead to a sense of team; to turn a group into a team there needs to be clear shared purpose. And where I have encountered dysfunctional teams, the issue of common purpose is generally obvious. And teams need warm relationships; people need to know and understand each other.
I generally use psychometric assessments to look in detail at team dynamics; and will often spend up to 3 days with a group of people helping them to understand themselves and their teammates better.
This process can be daunting for some people, but when we go through it they always enjoy it. It is a wonderful thing for people to be able to spend time really reflecting on their own personality, and it is so good for teams to be able to work on understanding themselves – because the individual personalities combine to create the team personality.