In an organisation with a robust and healthy culture, teams are characterized by collaborative behaviour. On the other hand, when an organization’s culture is toxic, the behaviour of members of the team toward each other will be fundamentally competitive. This will be expressed in issues like a dysfunctional emphasis on silos, meetings run in the spirit of win/lose by the participants and excessive cc’ing in email interactions. Once again, it is the intent of the individual that accounts for the culture of teams either being competitive or collaborative.
Team members of collaborative teams deliberately set each other up to succeed.
In our previous discussion we concluded that a person establishes harmony with those around them when they act based on what they can give. One of the expressions of this harmony is that the team that such an individual participates in becomes more harmonious. If one considered any successful sports team, like a soccer team, it becomes apparent that most of the work that happens on the field is not about somebody scoring, it is about somebody trying to set somebody else up to score.
This suggests that this spirit of being there to give is expressed in how team members deal with each other. The degree to which each member of the team is willing to set their colleague up to succeed and make them the star, is the degree to which you have a team. When each member plays to be the star, one no longer has a team but a herd of cats.
Giving is about Generosity and Courage.
It is important to bear in mind that the intent to give is not about being nice, it is about being appropriate. If, for example, a hungry child asked you for food then giving would mean to give the child food. If, on the other hand, you were a strapping young man and saw an old lady being mugged for her handbag then giving would mean beating up the thug.
While in both of these cases your intent was to give, the behaviour that you evidenced in the two interactions is actually contradictory. In the case of the hungry child your behaviour was kind and gentle. In the case of the thug your behaviour was violent and confrontative. This suggests that being here to give requires to sometimes be kind, and we can refer to that kindness as generosity, and sometimes it requires you to be confrontative, and we can refer to that as courage.
This suggests that being here to give does not always mean being nice, it means being appropriate or acting consistently with either the generosity or the courage that is appropriate in the situation that you are in.
Taking is about Selfishness and Cowardice.
Where giving is about acting consistently with the generosity or courage that is appropriate in the situation you are in, taking is about getting one’s logic wrong. If the hungry child asked you for food and you slapped the child we would not accept your explanation that you were being courageous. If you grabbed the bag from the old lady and gave it to the thug we would not be convinced if you said you were being generous. We would think you were cowardly.
This suggests that if the situation that you are in requires you be generous and you act in a so-called courageous way you are not giving, you are being selfish. On the other hand, if the situation requires you to be courageous and you act in a so-called generous way we would find you cowardly.
Generosity and Courage as a Member of a Team.
It is important to bear in mind that of the two elements of giving, generosity and courage, generosity is the primary element. If a person is here to give, it is likely that their primary engagement with others would be kind and generous and only where necessary confrontative and courageous.
Being Generous with team members
A team member who is there to make their colleague the star would, in the first instance, affirm their colleague. They would establish the strengths of their colleague and they would, where appropriate, point those strengths out to others.
Further to this and as we indicated before, a key behaviour that demonstrates the intent to give is listening. To listen one must be able to suspend one’s agenda for the agenda of the other. A team member who is there to make their colleague the star would not compete for airtime with that colleague and would intervene to allow the colleague to be heard, if necessary.
Being Courageous with Colleagues.
What is further true about a team member who is there to make their colleague the star is that they would have the courage to give the colleague feedback where it would be helpful to them, even in situations where the colleague would not want to hear what was being said.
While the conversation that ensues from this may be robust and heated, the courage that may be required is never an excuse to abrogate the primary requirement of giving, namely generosity. One gives the feedback with the intent to be helpful, not with the intent to hurt. Too often one finds people excuse blatant rude behaviour on the basis that they were ‘just being honest’. Honesty is never an excuse for discourtesy.
Giving and Seeing things as they Are
Giving or acting consistently with the generosity and the courage that is appropriate in the situation you are in, can be described as giving each situation its due. It is about how one acts in the world, in the outward. This capacity to give each situation its due is based on another skill, which is seeing things as they are. It is not possible to act appropriately if you have not appraised the situation properly.
|Seeing Things as They Are
|Giving Each Situation It’s Due
Just as the outward action of giving each situation it’s due has an inner equivalent, namely seeing things as they are, so too both generosity and courage have inner equivalents.
The Inner Equivalent of Generosity is Gratitude.
To be generous means to give to give away. If I give something to someone in the spirit of making an investment my action can’t be seen to be generous. When I am grateful I recognize that I have received in excess of my due, which makes it easy for me to give to give away. Thus my gratitude enables my generosity
The truth of this is evident when one considers the effect on one’s action when you are resentful, which is the opposite of being grateful. When I am resentful I do not want to give anyone anything because I am convinced that I am owed. They should be giving to me.
Resentment is the Opposite of Gratitude
Just like one’s gratitude enables your generosity, so too your generosity enables your gratitude. If you only ‘give’ in the spirit of making and investment you will assume that when somebody is giving you something they are doing the same
You will be incapable of seeing that they were giving to give away which would not make you grateful. On the contrary, you are likely to be suspicious. You would think ‘What do they want from me?’
This suggests that people who are generous with their team colleagues are also appreciative of them. The fact that they affirm that their colleagues give to them enables them to be generous with their colleagues. In fact, it is precisely because they are grateful to their colleagues that creates the conditions where their colleagues will give to them. There is nothing more pleasurable that giving to somebody who is truly appreciative of what you are giving and there is nothing more distasteful than giving something to someone when their resentment makes them feel entitled to what you are giving.
The Inner Equivalent of Courage is Trust.
I can only learn that I can trust my colleague when I take a risk with that person. And then that person acts in such a way as to vindicate the trust I put in them. The risk I take therefore enables me to earn trust in that person. Conversely, once I have earned some trust in that person it is easier for me to take a risk with them, to act courageously
This suggests that my trust enables my courage and my courage enables my trust. If I cannot trust the person to do what they should do the only recourse I have is to control them. Controlling them means they will experience that I am trying to make sure that I get from them what I want. I am trying to take something from them. There is a difference between having something taken from you and giving something. People resist being manipulated.
When people feel taken from they stop giving
Gratitude is the Key:
The elements of gratitude and generosity are orientated to the past. When I am grateful, I am grateful for what has happened. When I am generous, I give away what I have accumulated. On the other hand, trust and courage are orientated forward, to the future. I trust things will not go wrong. I don’t run away as the enemy comes over the hill, I behave courageously. This suggests that of the four elements of gratitude, generosity, trust and courage, gratitude is the key that enables the rest.
If, as a member of a team, I am grateful, in other words recognize that I have been given in excess of my due, then it is easy for me to give to give away, to be generous. Furthermore, should I look at the past. And recognize that I received in excess of my due. In other words, that I cannot account for my current good fortune on the basis of my own ingenuity. Then it is easy for me to trust, to assume things will probably go well in the future. After all, If I recognize that things have gone well in the past possibly despite me, I can assume they will go well in the future. I can trust.
The cycle of gratitude, generosity, trust, and courage is the basis on which any relationship is developed – not the least so within teams.
Teams are Built Incrementally:
If, in their interaction with other members of the team, a team member starts to act consistently with the elements of gratitude, generosity, trust and courage they introduce an adhesive. Which, over a period of time, starts to produce the stickiness and cohesiveness of the team. This stickiness presents itself as a spirit of collaboration that manifests in the team’s effectiveness. As well as in their pleasure in working and their pleasure in working together. The most powerful of these elements is gratitude and appreciativeness.
If, on the other hand, a team member presents a sense of resentment toward their colleagues, they will manifest selfishness, distrust and cowardice. This will, in time, produce a failing team where the members compete with each other. The team will not hold together. It will fall apart. The intent of each individual in the team has this effect. It can either be an adhesive that binds the members. Or it can be a solvent that dissolves the bonds between members. These adhesive or solvent effects are at play continuously. Irrespective of the organisational context the team is operating in or how the team is lead. These effects are also manifested and iterated or countermanded in every interaction between members of the team.
The heart of Collaboration in a Team
A particularly authentic person, one who is truly unconditional with the contribution they make, will start to incrementally build a bias to health in the team. This is because, as we have observed previously, that to act on what you can give makes you powerful. And to act on what you want to get makes you weak. This holds true for any person in the team. Even the most junior. These sorts of individuals therefore tend to become very influential in the team and can have a profound effect on the team over time.
This suggests that the giving of the individual accounts for both personal excellence and team excellence. This is the heart of collaboration. This intent of the individual to give, produces the collaboration which is the hallmark of healthy cultures. It can be accounted for independently in how the team is lead or what the organisational context of the team is. It is possible to have a heathy team culture in a team operating in an otherwise dysfunctional organisation. Indeed, anyone who has worked in large organisations will recognize that this is true. Just as it possible to have a dysfunctional team in an otherwise healthy organisation.
It is, however, possible to lead a group of people in such a way that will develop the intent of the individual to contribute. Just as it is possible to create an organisational context which will encourage contribution.
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