Archives for posts with tag: small group

What does this picture tell you about the essence of TEAM?

A picture can say a thousand words. With that in mind, look at, study, and really think about the meaning of the picture above – and how it connects to the essence of TEAM.

As implications of what is occurring in this picture, consider the following:

  • How is this picture a metaphor for your team? (Whether you are thinking of a workplace project team, community group/team, athletic team, or any other type of group with more than 2 people working toward a common goal who influence one another.)
  • What does the pool of water represent?
  • What or who does the droplet(s) of water represent? How many “answers” can you come up with?
  • How many variations of what the ripples in the water represent can you come up with? As you consider your team/group, can you generate concrete examples of what the ripples may represent?
  • As you consider the list of concrete things that the ripples in the water may represent on your team, how did you feel about each one? How do you think members of your team felt? How do you think the leader(s) felt?
  • What does the calm water beyond the ripples represent?
  • How does the “pool of water” absorb the ripples as it seeks equilibrium and peace?

Team Impact…It Happens

Your answers to the questions above lead to these two – that get to the heart of improving your performance and effectiveness as a leader and as a team member.

  • What’s it like to be YOUR teammate?
  • What’s it like to be following YOUR leadership?
  • How can you change your interactions and communication on your team so that you produce a more positive impact?
  • What is YOUR ripple effect? And is it what you want it to be?

By Dr. Heidi Scott – The “Leader’s Coach”


Sometimes when I am a part of a small group, it is easy to slide along together enmeshed in a purpose or vague “goal” of being together. And if the small group experience is not rockin’ with synergy, results, and fun – or worse yet, begins to feel like I have my feet mired in muck and I feel stuck with the group – I want out. Yet if I’m honest, most of the time that sense of needing to cut myself loose has to do with the egocentric “Me vs. We” tug of war exercising muscles belonging to the human, selfish nature within me…that’s within all of us.

Yet a small group is a system. In fact, it is much like a galaxy!

Shaping the small group – as a leader or participant – by seeing it as a System

In a small group, whom do I focus upon most? Why, ME, of course! Yet just because I may think of myself most as I consider my small group, or just because I may see my world as just that…MY world, doesn’t change the fact that earth is just a piece of the galaxy. And the galaxy is a vast system of interconnected elements.

When the term “galaxy” dances across my mind, the scene becomes one of the backdrops for a Star Trek show. You know, where you see the stars out in a vast blue sea of “forever” on the screen, with an occasional meteor or falling star whisks by – threatening the safety of the Starship Enterprise and life upon it had it connected?

Using this metaphor of the Starship Enterprise zipping across the galaxy may illumine the SYSTEM characteristics of small groups.

And why do we care? This knowledge can help us effectively shape the course of life and work in a small group – as a leader or participant.

What do I need to remember?

  • 1 change = BIG change. If there was an oxygen leak on the Star Trek Enterprise, the entire starship was at risk. In a system (and small group), there really is no such thing as an inconsequential change. For example, enter or exit a new member to your small group – YIKES! This could place the small group at risk of disintegration. At the very least, it may change how the group optimally functions.
  • A system is like a living organism; it is continuously adapting to the environment and micro-changes in order to continue. A small group innately seeks stability. It tries to manage its stability by controlling the degree and rate of change.
  • A system (whether a galaxy or small group!), continually seeks Dynamic Equilibrium. Much like a system, a small group has an invisible control panel where it monitors the “desirability” of change. Dynamic Equilibrium in a group or system is the delicate balance between change and stability. A group’s Dynamic Equilibrium Control Panel manages change, promotes success and growth, and knows the limits of pushing for that success without placing the group or system in utter chaos…where the threat of disintegration is real.
  • Small groups and systems seek survival at all costs – usually through Adaptability. With changing conditions, small groups respond with modifications (when needed) to its rules, procedures, and boundaries.

When we consider how small groups ARE like systems, we begin to see how we are NOT separate individuals “attached” to a group. We are part of a web of interactions, and we and our movements are connected to one another. We influence one another. We individually impact the focus, strength, and effectiveness of the group. There is an extreme degree of interdependence among all members of a small group – because it is a system.

So as a leader or participant of a small group, knowing that even though I am but one member I DO highly impact my group’s welfare hopefully keeps me mindful of how I choose to interact with my small group.

Because in all truth, my actions, words, and attitudes as I connect with my small group contributes to the overall “ripple effect” of energy in the group. Either I generate life-giving growth to this system, or I drain it by tapping its resources to simply try to adapt and sustain itself.

So which are you when it comes to leading or participating in a small group?

As you reflect, are you a Life-Giver? Or are you a Resource Drainer?

I’ve heard how people who check money to see if it’s counterfeit study “real” money to be able to quickly discern which bills are real and which are not. They touch the real money, examine it, hold it, and peer intently at it.

Discerning if a team has synergy or not is something most of us intuitively sense. But since synergy isn’t something tangible like a $100 bill, how can we study to recognize the level of synergy that a group or team has? And more importantly, as a leader, how do we assess synergy in a team we are leading, and make improvements in the team by leading differently?

Assessing If Your Team Possesses Synergy

Synergy is often defined as what occurs when members of a group cooperate in connected ways to achieve a goal – and their work together exceeds expectations of what could have been accomplished as individuals.

Synergy has an intangible “it” factor. Because of this, by understanding what synergy is NOT can helps us to:

1) Assess our team’s level (or existence) of synergy, and

2) Increase the effectiveness and synergy in our team.

So what is synergy not? Synergy is not:

  • When a team’s work is halted or hindered from external obstacles and insurmountable challenges that they can’t seem to work through.
  • When a group prevents or stops its progress – from internal communication and collaboration issues.
  • When a team’s efforts are thwarted, encumbered, or blocked from an inability to collaboratively work together toward a single goal.

Questions for Leaders to Assess & Improve Synergy in Your Teams

So next time you notice that your team is clicking well, step back and examine WHY? How has your leadership (and/or contribution as a team member) increased the collaboration and synergistic work of the team? Tuck these effective behaviors away in your mind and use them again!

When your team seems to be at a stopped place, can you identify any external obstacles? Can you articulate what they are – because sometimes a team feels like they are blocked but don’t truly know the real cause(s). Can you share the specific obstacles you see, AND contribute 3 or so ideas for working through it to prompt the group to problem-solve?

As you consider your team, if you sense internal relational, or communication and collaboration issues, can you reflect on it as if you were viewing a video camera? What would a video reveal as some of the team’s root problems when it comes to its communication or collaboration problems? Can you objectively share what you believe these are with the team, AND provide a few ideas to move past them toward your group’s common goal?

If you think or feel that your team’s efforts to collaboratively work together toward its single goal are currently thwarted, ask yourself if each team member possesses extreme clarity around the purpose of the team’s work. Does every team member agree on the team’s goal in working together? How can you bring momentum to the team to help them move past a “stalled” point in work and increase focus on the goal of the group?

As you consider your team’s lack of synergy, what behaviors that contributed to that state do you need to own? How can you take responsibility with your team by honestly communicating how you may have contributed to its lack of synergy? How can you verbally commit to “fixing” these behaviors of yours?

What you discover to some of the questions above may help you effectively turn the tide as needed with your team and lead in a way that increases its synergy. This self-reflection process may also help you effectively lead a different team in the future.

Or, if you’re ever a part of a team that is not experiencing synergy, rather than lamenting about how dead, not-fun, or unproductive the group is, review the questions above.  Assess how you can alter your contributions to the group to help stir up synergy, helping the group reach its goal in working together.