Building a team: and breathe now! Building a team: Be here now! In my work across organisations, I notice that many people, when building a team – a brand spanking new team or simply continuing to drive an existing team through to extraordinary – tend to get lost inside their own heads (sometimes their backsides!) thinking about why it isn’t working and why aren’t others doing this or that and believing that ‘Fred has always been a pain in the butt anyway!’ We can all be guilty of getting lost in our own thoughts. The problem arises if we take up residence there and fail to leave the safety of our thoughts and enter the world! Only when we do this do we have some chance of changing the story and influencing new action. Being truly present though, takes energy, confidence and a desire to understand others. One of Steven Covey’s 7 habits is ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ – to do this, we must be present. Building a team: Silence! Imagine paying a small fortune to see the greatest choir ever assembled. A bit like the chaps in the photo! Your expectations would be, and rightly so, fairly high I would guess? Now imagine that part way through they stop singing. They simply run out of breath singing such a complex piece that the auditorium is brought to silence whilst they get their breathe back! I doubt you would be impressed. Me neither. As a singer, I quickly learnt about staggered breathing. A simple idea – in order that the sound is always consistent and there are no silences in choral singing, the moments when you take a breathe are staggered with your colleagues. I might breathe at one point and the singer next to me may breathe a bar later. Only this way can the choir create a wall of sound. Believe me, it doesn’t sound good when 200 singers take a breathe at the same time! For staggered breathing to work seamlessly it takes each singer to be present and ‘in the moment’ – responding to what is happening around them, noticing that the singer next to you is pregnant and therefore unable to breathe in the way she would normally. How do you then adapt your own breathing to accommodate her? It requires immense flexibility and awareness. Building a team: Powerful learning In our team events, there is often great hilarity when we share the notion of staggered breathing. The assembled leaders have a deep and focussed chat with the person next to them to agree where they might breathe, they then disappear back into their own heads paying zero attention to the people around them!! Uncomfortable learning when it is then played back to them. They quickly discover, that being truly present and paying real attention can be challenging. Ask yourself, with your own Leadership style, how much are you truly present and connected to what is happening around you? In your own organisation, how much time is spent being present and adaptable to the here and now? In building a team that ultimately becomes extraordinary, it is the key.
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