Teams, Groups, Troupes - and Geese
Previously we talked about two opposing methods for achieving success—competition vs. collaboration (March 2011). Here’s another workplace challenge: Are you leading a team or a group?
Teams and groups are definitely not the same. There are a couple of indicators that will tell you which is which.
First, how do you achieve results? Groups are made up of individuals who work independently, like an executive management group or a bowling team. Each person puts forth their personal best effort, which rolls up to an aggregate result. Teams, whether for software development or basketball, depend on each other to create results through shared effort.
Second, ask yourself whether individual or collective performance matters more? A group’s strength usually comes from a willingness to carry out the commands of one leader. But a team’s strength depends on the interconnectivity between individual members.
Teams consistently prove to be the better way to achieve success. But if your team is looking more like a group, don’t despair. Kathy Kolbe has coined the term “troupe” to describe the hybrid of these two extremes. Troupes are formed by individuals who work both interactively (anywhere from 30 to 70% of the time) and independently (the remaining 30 to 70% of the time).
A good leader can foster troupe conditions by paying attention to a few core team attributes. These include fostering trust by creating common understanding and open communication with team members, providing a sense of ownership of results among all members, embracing difficult conversations (see sidebar on StraightTalk™), and resolving conflict quickly—in short, making it easier and more productive to work together.
Where do you go from here? Consider Pulling Together, a powerful training video that shows how geese help each other by flying in a V formation. The V adds 71% greater flying range than if any bird were to fly alone. By pulling together, geese reach their goal faster and more easily.
By sharing a common direction and a sense of community, your team can accomplish more and reach a higher level of performance, too. If geese can do it… well, need we say more?
The Power of We,
“Birds flock, fish school, people tribe,” say the authors of Tribal Leadership
, an invaluable guide to understanding the ways in which people in companies act and react individually and as “tribes.”
According to the book, social groups in companies of 20 to 150 people band together and create their own group dynamic. The characteristic (and therefore, stage) of the group determines performance. There are five stages, starting with the least effective and least productive employees. Sadly, these low performers hold the attitude that “life sucks.”
Fortunately, most workplace tribes—49% in fact—are in Stage 3, marked by individuals that achieve, although in a lone warrior fashion of “I’m great, you’re not.” The challenge is to move your tribal culture to Stage 4, where people are generally happy and productive, harnessing the power of We, not Me. Level 5 is more aspirational where team members are full of “innocent wonderment” and the desire to change the world.
It pays to understand the tribes in your organization and what you can do to encourage them to move up a stage because the higher the stage, the greater the success for your organization.
Buy the book
to learn more concrete ways to move from stage to stage by harnessing the power of pulling together.