Have you ever seen or been part of the team, a team so strong, capable, united and seemingly positive to the point of it being dangerous? Strange words you might say but through my observation there are some very interesting positive and negative benefits of being in and around these type of group dynamics.
If you’re in the team, well, simply put, there is no other team. You guys are thick, real thick. By that I mean you know each other intimately, your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes, your aspirations. You work together, you play together and over time you get to the point where you’re almost inseparable and can virtually forecast each other’s thinking.
But is this team highly effective?
If you’re not in the team but close to it or part of another team, how do you feel? What is the impact that that team is having other teams or you? Are you in? Are you on the outer? Are you envious? Or can you see through it?
I recently witnessed two teams with these dynamics, one was a work team, the other a social team. In both cases one cannot dispute the comradery between team members, their commitment to each other and their collective pursuit of choice; indeed most commendable. But after a while both teams were challenged by the need for change and asked to commit to something bigger, something more broad reaching and encompassing than their team.
When the need for change came, both teams completely failed to come to terms with the fact that they were to be impacted and could not, would not comprehend why them. In fact, how dare they be challenged?!
Failure, big failure – the degree of groupthink; the myopia of their own interests and complete commitment to their fellow team members all got in the way of the bigger need. Team members were so into each other that they lost their individual identity to the team and simply refused to see the bigger picture.
To some pointers:
- If you are managing a series of teams and you see one team heading down this path, be very wary. For what seems like a great thing, may not be so great when change is in the wind.
- You can also not ignore potential (underlying) discontent within other teams and other team members – watch and listen for this, have one on ones to get to it.
- The real shame in my view though is the complete absence of leadership. If you fail to manage the context of the team’s identity as the leader, you may just find a big explosion around the corner!