Here’s an exercise. Google “Teams.”
The results stagger. Leaders know, to achieve significance, Team is required. We mine successful Teams to discover formulas to replicate success. We hope for the key to unlock Team potential. We study sports, military, politics, religion and business to learn tools to take Team to the next level. Judging by the volume of books and formulas available with inconsistent outcomes, the search continues. And it is exhausting.
There is no key. There is no formula. No specific tool. No secret sauce. Teams are unique in time, space and culture.
There are excellent reads, studies, and perspectives. Each one provides a catalyst to improve Team performance. I have nothing to add except practices accelerating these fundamentals. Accelerators lead to “Deep Teams.” They are raw and challenge conventional wisdom. That is why I call this unplugged.
Deep infers below the surface depth to the point of discomfort. Accelerators are risky, discounted and avoided.
I am still learning accelerators. I first experienced one on the Bade-Baden elementary schoolyard. Years of adolescent observation, accelerators immersed my subconscious. Championship and losing Teams alike, my neurons were connecting. In church, university, sports, Army and business, I articulated accelerators that bound the disparate Teams. Purposefully, I began to leverage these in my career and experienced Deep Teams leading to deep results.
It is about you first, not the Team. Heresy for sure! It starts with the leader. If the leader does not model deeply, there is no Team acceleration. The leader sets the height on Team performance proportional to the depth of their accelerator embrace.
Vulnerability. It takes strength to admit weakness. Humility to acknowledge pride. Confidence to reveal insecurity. Courage to show fear. Teams coalesce around an authentic leader. A leader who is real accelerates Team. Checkpoint. When did you last cry in front of your Team? When did you last apologize? When did you last ask for help? Do you share your struggles? Do you show your wounds? Do they touch your pain?
Meekness. Meek are powerful leaders under control. Their leadership is influence without title, intimidation, or coercion. Their words are few and profound. Meek treat others as real people with real lives. Meek react calmly when attacked harshly. Checkpoint. Do you subtly shame your Team? Do you rely on title for influence? Do you bully or intimidate others? Is your body language aggressive? Is your assertiveness really combative?
Social. The idea that familiarity breeds contempt is an acceleration blocker. The deeper the social, the deeper Team performance. Embracing families as an extension of the Team enables acceleration. Supporting hobbies and sharing burdens binds Teams. Checkpoint. When did you last include families? Do you get invited to family events? Do you know birthdays and anniversaries? Children’s names and birthdays? Will you give your life?
Accelerators don’t stand alone. They multiply the effectiveness of existing powerful Team performance tools. Superior teams with no accelerators are outperformed by average accelerated Teams. Every time. Rare exceptions. Money nor training nor education nor experience can accelerate the Team dynamic. Across my experiences my Teams were imperfect, especially me. But we consistently outperformed the more perfect. Accelerators.
The foundation of accelerators is love. Yes, love. When love permeates Team, there is no border on significance, no cap on potential. Love expels fear. Fear prohibits vulnerability, meekness and social. Where love reigns you see vulnerability, meekness and social. And some kick-ass Teams. Checkpoint. Do you love your Team? Have you told them? Do they love one another?