Creating Successful Teams and Partnerships

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If you have participated in any of my coaching calls or read my book “Embrace the Ridiculousness: A Pocket Guide to Being A Better You” you will notice that I focus nearly all of my attention on getting you out of your own way.

That’s because to be a great leader you must start by having a great relationship with yourself.

That relationship begins with you identifying and letting go of the stories you tell yourself about yourself, and the stories you tell yourself about others.

Your stories limit you as a leader because they define how you see yourself, what you think is and isn't possible and ultimately the difference you think you can make.

If you want to be the kind of leader that people naturally want to follow, you must be able to recognize and own the stories you have made up about yourself and let them go

When we are free of our stories, we then have the power to say everything that matters. When you see someone going in the wrong direction, being able to assertively and respectfully approach them and say what everyone else is thinking is the hallmark of a great leader. Say what will make a difference AND leave their humanity intact.

Tim Spiker, the upcoming author of "The Only Leaders Worth Following," says that 77% of the great leaders are what he calls "inwardly sound" and "outwardly focused."

Which brings me to the third and final point of my "Three Lessons on Leadership." By being outwardly focused I mean focus on empowering those around you. Only when you let go of your stories and say everything that matters will you authentically be able to empower those around you. Empowerment will come easy when you dare to say the hard stuff because you are opening lines of communication.

There many critical factors that go into empowering others, which John Lyden of ExpressWorks Consulting has put into a white paper that is entirely worth reading if you get the time. While reading his article, I discovered a Google Research project he referred to where Google dug into five decades of research and surveyed their 51,000 employees.  

What they found is that successful teams were successful because of the way they treated each other:

1.     All team members speak in roughly the same proportions—they called this “equal distribution of conversational turn-taking.” In fact, as long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well. But if only one person or small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.

2.     All great teams had high “average social sensitivity,” meaning they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues (we call this emotional intelligence).

There number one factor for successful teams is what is known as psychological safety. This phrase was defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmundson as a “shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”

Thus, it is imperative to break down the imaginary walls you've built between you and the people who are looking for you to lead.

Letting go of our stories unites us.

Understanding through communication unites us.

Ask yourself.

Why would people want to confide in you or become a part of your organization?

How do you want to help them along in their journey?

When you are willing to look in another’s direction—that is where growth happens. 

So often we see others as adversaries, and like any good martial artist, we defend ourselves and look to outmaneuver our enemies and win.

Instead of this game of winning and losing, I identify with the martial art of Aikido.

“Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is a martial art that focuses on harmonizing with your opponent to bring peaceful resolutions to situations involving conflict.”

When you are looking in the same direction, you will see new opportunities to collaborate, to support one another, to build coalitions with those around you.

Now, IF you took the case that you didn’t come here in this lifetime for you.

You came here to empower the people around you, why did they send you?


Jen Coken