The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

A team’s ability to function smoothly

When a team functions smoothly it experiences a sense of order as well as predictability.

Order and predictability contribute to the clarity a team needs to have to know what to do and what to expect. But, just as important as clarity is that experiencing such a sense serves to reduce the presence of anxiety.

A sense of anxiety naturally appears when neither of the two are available. It will not always be very visible or tangible, but it nevertheless is present. It appears for example in a sense of being confused, not being sure about what to do, and a slightly reduced ability to think easily. But it can also be much more tangible when leading to people avoiding engaging or responsibility, preventing decisions from being executed, avoiding expressing themselves, or disagreeing in other non-constructive ways.

Experiencing a sense of order and predictability isn’t about having a team agree on everything or about making people feel good. It is about freeing their energy to attend to what it is they need to do. It also isn’t about having an answer to every question one might have in the volatile, uncertain, unpredictable, chaotic, complex, and ambiguous environment many organizations find themselves in.

It’s about knowing how the team will respond to their situation and what they are seeking to achieve together. Which is based on the team having developed shared or common meanings and understandings. It isn’t necessarily something they created together. It can also be something that emerged from their work and conversations or something that has been shared by the leader. What’s important is that they subscribe to it as individuals.

There is also more to it than having a vision, an organigram, and processes. It’s having all of them together with some kind of “glue”. One that frees them not to know when they don’t know and enables them to make their decisions when they know what to do. Decisions that contribute to the team’s objective, that is.

Not to forget that they don’t only need to know what they are doing together; they also need to choose to engage in it with the team.

They cannot be made to decide, they must have the space to find their way to that decision.

And as clarity comes and goes it is a decision that they constantly need to be able to renew when anxiety reappears.

Leadership using such an objective is to work on creating circumstances in which the team can experience a sense of order and predictability. A sense that has its roots in the shared meaning and understanding they were able to find.


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