Leadership Skills: How to Have a Breakthrough, Not a Breakdown

Teamwork is not necessarily about being polite, agreeing, or avoiding conflict. Nor does it ensure that everyone will march in lock-step. Quite the contrary!

Teamwork is about bringing people’s diverse views together and holding them together under time and performance pressure in order to create a breakthrough result that lifts everybody to a new level.

It’s about staying together through disagreement. In fact, I teach my clients that, “We bring people together on teams because we know they will disagree!”

An amazing thing happens when people manage to stay committed to each other through their differences, disagreement, conflict, and chaos: they always break through to a new level of understanding.

Breakthrough is a fundamental shift in understanding. It’s a wonderful and expansive release, and it’s felt by every team member when teammates discover a solution big enough to contain their differences.

Breakthrough solutions propel the entire team forward with great energy.

Most of us have experienced breakthrough a number of times. Sometimes it seems to happen by serendipity. Sometimes it’s “assisted” by a skilled leader.

Either way, it’s an uplifting, empowering experience. Most corporate teams can’t wait for serendipity to deliver breakthrough. They want to cause it, so they ask me how.

Here are three of my favorite tools for triggering breakthroughs on teams:

1. Use my 5-step Team Orientation Process™ to build a supportive context in which disagreement can arise. It’s a conversational framework you can use to build any team any time. Read my blog post about it.

2. When scary differences and/or conflict arise, know that breakthrough will occur if the members are willing to stay in the conflict together.

Demonstrating this confidence is a crucial Leadership Gift™ skill. In fact, my belief in breakthrough has gotten me through many team-building consultations when I knew nothing else to do but hold onto my belief in staying together.

3. Explore one or more of the following questions together:

  • How are we going to work together to get this task done?
  • How can we all be “right?”
  • What if we each gave up our usual way of solving this problem and invented a new way together?
  • How can we view our differences as “perfect” points of view instead of as personal “rights” or “wrongs?”

Get Started With This Week’s 5-Minute Stretch

Review a key relationship in which you’re aware (probably painfully!) that differences and/or outright conflict is impeding your forward progress, effectiveness, and happiness.

Take a deep breath and imagine a world in which all parties could be right. Just try it.

Now, take another breath and offer to explore with your teammates how you can all be right at the same time. Ask them to “stay with” each other through the discussion. Get ready to watch the magic of breakthrough!

I wish you a world of productive relationships.

Leaders and coaches: Hone your integrative skills in the Leadership Gift Program. CEO’s desiring a culture of diverse unity may want to investigate the proven Managed Leadership Gift Adoption program.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership, Teamwork on 12/12/2012 07:42 am
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