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  • Positive Polarity Podcast

Understanding The 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team


Paula Potter has over 30 years of experience helping business people and leaders improve their relationships with customers, employees and others with whom they interact. She’s done this by training and coaching the skills necessary for relational leadership.

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So tell us, what's the relational leader about?

Several years ago, as we all do with our small businesses, I was working on how I want to brand myself and, you know, what am I about and all of that. And I've actually been in business for a long time, but I remember that working with someone on branding many years ago, she kind of went through a process where we looked at what kind of my strengths were and what I've done. And we just kept coming back to, for me, it was all about leadership and about relations and relationships. And so that's when we kind of landed on the relational leader. And so that's how I branded myself and my company as well.

So what do you focus on on a day-to-day basis?

So I focus on a couple of things. I've got two sides to my business, Dave. So the first side is helping corporations, people within corporate America who have teams, or organizations. It doesn't necessarily have to be a corporate America kind of situation, but helping teams work together more effectively. I focus on team building and leadership. So not only providing training and consulting in those areas but also working with their internal trainers to help them get up to speed on some of the resources that we have available. You're familiar with DISC and five behaviors and various other tools such as that I've worked with Myers-Briggs over the years. And so really helping them focus on getting their employees, working together more effectively. That's the side of my business. That's helping employees and teams work together. The other side of my business is working with a follow-up tool called send-out cards that helps them then really celebrate their team members and individuals, their customers, and provide good follow-up through cards and gifts.

I remember Patrick's book on five dysfunctions of a team, and that's where I think that turned into the five behaviors of a cohesive team. So let's kind of walk through that because the first time I was exposed to it, I was like, this is way too simple. This is way too easy. I know Patrick was at a global conference that I saw him at, and I just thought this is way too easy. So then, when I found out that you were working in conjunction with them, I was like, we got to get this on this show because I love what he has to say. And so, walk us through the five behaviors of a cohesive team if you wouldn't mind.

As you think about teams, you can almost visualize kind of a triangle, a pyramid. And so, there are five behaviors. At the base of the triangle is trust. And that is the most important element. It's also the most important element for any relationship. If you think about it, there has to be trust. And so when team members can trust each other and, and Patrick breaks it down, not in terms of predictability trust, but it's vulnerability-based trust.

And that's a word that sometimes, you know, sends people into a little bit of a panic there. But it's the idea that I can let you know when I need help. I can admit when I make a mistake, and I can say I don't know everything. So, I need some guidance here. So, it's being vulnerable and allowing each other to trust each other on a team. So that's the first layer.

The second one is conflict. And what Patrick describes is that you've got to have healthy conflict on a team. So once we trust each other, then if we disagree, if we choose to argue or to kind of mull things over that, we're deciding as a team, we can do that because we trust each other.

And I know that you have my best interest at heart and vice versa. So conflict is one of those things a lot of times people think, well, Oh gosh, we don't have any conflict in our team. They're not addressing it. They're trying to gloss it over, or they're just waiting until they can leave the meeting and then kind of sabotaging each other and things. So, you've got to have that healthy conflict.

I was curious about that conflict piece because, as you mentioned, we don't have conflict around here. I hear that a lot. But then I realized that as you start talking to individuals on the team, they kind of internalize it, but it stays within now. When I do my conflict resolution training and ask people in the room, it's interesting. I say, so let's talk about conflict. Give me some words that describe conflict. And out of 20 words, if there are 20 people in that, on that team, in that room, I'm going to say 18 or 19 of those words are negative. Right? Very few people actually come up with a positive word for conflict. How do we kind of readjust our thinking on this conflict because we need to engage in it? As you said, we've kind of been taught to stay out of it or not bring it up. So how do you kind of work through that with your groups?

Well, that is where again, you've got to develop that level of trust first, and I think conflict, it's such a loaded word at times. And like you say, Dave, so many people have a negative perception of conflict. But we've got to be able to move through that. So part of it depends upon how we grew up. Some people grew up in households where they were engaging in discussions about debates, and they were arguing with each other, and it was okay because they knew that their relationships were solid. In other family households growing up, people just didn't say anything because they knew it could turn into a major fight if they did. So, they internalized it.

And I think another thing that it comes down to style differences as well. Right. You know, some people are going to be very out there, and they're going to speak their mind because they're more extroverted. And they're not concerned about rubbing somebody the wrong way. Others are very much more introverted. And so, it's much more difficult for them to bring up issues are difficult. Sometimes you might want to have a chance for people to jot things down and include input from everybody in the meeting and on the team. It's going to be much more difficult for some to come forward with things. So, it has to be a safe environment.

And so I want to backpedal because you taught me early on in DIS that different styles, trust different things, you know? And so I think that's really kind of a thing that I want to make sure that we explain a little bit.

I think what happens so often is that you know, just as you said, when our styles are different, it's not that maybe I don't really like you and care about you and all of that. It really has to do with our style differences. And so, understanding that and being aware of how I can respond differently to someone based on their needs, as you know, it makes all the difference in the world.

There are many driven entrepreneurs who listen to this, very results-oriented people. The bottom line is very important. So how do you take a personality profile like you were talking about and turn that into something that a bottom-line person could understand?

There are many ways you can evaluate training and all of that. I mean, it's not that a two hour or a four-hour training session is going to get you to where you need to be. But I think from a bottom-line perspective, and there are things that you can look at within your company, such as what is our turnover rate with employees? What is our rework rate? One of the things I'll give you an example of this. I remember talking with a D style a long time ago. One particular person, I was coaching and was all about the bottom line.

I said, well, it's all a matter of if you want things to be effective. If you want to be effective, you've got to learn how to do this. But if I'm working with someone who has a strong steadiness and S style, if I slow down a couple of minutes, when I come in, let's say on Monday morning if I just will take a couple of minutes and ask that person, how was their weekend? You know, how is their spouse? How are their kids? That person will go to bat and work much harder for me because they know that I value the relationship. Now you have to be sincere about it, right? But it's not like that D style has to change everything they're doing. They just have to flex a little bit to meet the needs of that other style, and the results speak for themselves and a bottom line because you'll see that in the commitment level, that that employee has what you talked about with the engagement their day.

We talked about conflict; what's the next chunk on the pyramid then for the five behaviors?

So the next step is a commitment. Let's say we have a team meeting we're kicking around how we're going to deal with a particular project or client or whatever it might be. So the idea between commitment is that at the end of that discussion, at the end of that process, everybody on the team commits that, yes, this is the decision we're making, even though it may not be my best solution. Maybe I think my idea is still the better ones, but because we trust each other because you've allowed me to voice my concerns through the conflict and the discussion and all of that, I will agree to commit to us moving forward with this action item or this plan of direction. Know I've had a chance to say what I need to say about it. As a team, we've come up with a decision we want to go forward with. And each individual on that team is committed to that decision to move forward.

Once we have to get to that point where we really trust that individual, and we're able to explain conflict, we're able to go through anything that we're struggling with. And then once we get to that commitment, what's the next step then in that process?

So the fourth behavior is accountability, right? And this is the one that is often one of the most difficult for teams to do because what that means is that's not me being accountable. When we've agreed to a decision, we trust each other, we've dealt with conflict. You know, we can be open with each other. That's me coming to you and saying, Hey, Dave, I think I thought we agreed that you were going to do this. And I do not see that happening. Help me understand what you need from me or what support you need for you to get done, what you committed to doing. Ooh, those are tough conversations.

So, as we think about then as we get to the top chunk after the accountability, what's the last piece of that I'm trying.

So the last piece is results. So if you've done all of these other pieces, right, then you are going to get the results you want for a team; that's where you can do some kind of evaluation and say, did we get the results we wanted if we didn't, what might've caused that to happen? What changed in our environment? You know, there are many companies, individuals right now that this has been a tough year with COVID, so they may not be getting quite the results they had intended. They need to regroup. They need to pivot and figure out what those new goals are and where they need to redirect.

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