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courage

Team work isn’t optional.  Management theorists tend to over-complicate things by differentiating between groups and teams, but I like to keep it simple.

I frequently work with leaders and teams who ask me a version of this question:

“What if we’re not a great team and we don’t all really trust each other?”

Which is a necessarily honest and courageous start.

In my work I encourage my clients to consciously re-think what we mean by “teams”; to go beyond the idea that a team is only the group of people who report to one manager or one project lead.

We all belong to multiple teams

If you need other people to contribute to your output at work, then you’re part of their team.  Their contribution might be time, advice, encouragement or materials and the contribution may be big or small, consistent or intermittent.

Team work is about co-operation and contribution

Great teams work well when the individuals have the mind set:

“What can I contribute?”

Not:

“What can I get out of this?”  or “How can I get other people to do what I want them to do?”

Don’t obsess about trust

Of course, trust is a fundamental aspect of a high-performing team, but the reality is that we all have experience of belonging to teams where trust might not be optimal.

Virtual teams, matrix organisations and a tendency to promote managers without formal training; mean that politics, turf wars and competing agendas are bound to get in the way of team work.

Teams don’t have to be perfect

I think that we have a tendency to romanticise the ideal team, when “good enough” is sometimes a lot better than average.

Instead of waiting for some magical time when trust will emerge or crossing your fingers that you’ll get some budget to hire an outside coach to help you strengthen those bonds, you could just do five things.

The  real world guide to “good enough” teams

Five things any team can (and should) focus on to get great results 

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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That’s what vulnerability feels like according to Brené Brown.  She also says:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness….The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection.”

The problem is we all have our naked in public memories

This is mine:

When I was at junior school I loved to spend school break times on the climbing frames in the playground.  I grew up in Zimbabwe and my memories are that climbing trees and building forts were equal opportunities activities – we weren’t locked in a pink ghetto back then.

However, being a girl did present some challenges.  This was the seventies and school uniform was a very short blue and white checked dress.  The answer was that we all also wore school issue matching “knickers” to preserve our dignity, if not our sense of style.  This allowed me to indulge my eight year old passion for hanging upside down or swinging round and round on high parallel bars.

Except one day, as I flung my legs over the bar and let myself fall upside down, I realised something felt different. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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How do we get to trust?

How do we get to trust?

by Moyra Mackie on April 23, 2016

“I don’t trust you”, she said.

A colleague and I were working with a group to understand more about their responses to an employee engagement survey.  We’d been hired by the management team because we had coached them and they, well yes, trusted us.

So how would you respond?

When it comes to trust words don’t work

I could recite the code of ethics I sign up to as an Accredited Coach.  Or I could point out that we wouldn’t last very long in this business if we couldn’t keep what we were told confidential.

I begin with the truth.

“Thank you.  That must have taken  a bit of courage to say that to us and in front of the group”

Don’t get me wrong, as she had said those words, I feel a sharp pain in my stomach, as if she’s physically punched me.  I’m aware my chest is tight and my palms are sweaty.

This person, who I will call Verity, had struck at the heart of who I believed myself to be.  As a coach, building and maintaining trust are essential for my work.

Yet feedback is always a gift.

What gets left unsaid is more toxic than what is brought into the open. Raising tough issues, especially about negative feelings, takes courage.

As I say those words of thanks I can feel my stress reducing.  I now process the thought that something about how we are as coaches and how the group is, has allowed Verity to take a risk and speak out.

Trust requires personal risk

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Vulnerability AND strength: The walls we build

Vulnerability AND strength: The walls we build

by Moyra Mackie on March 21, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about defensiveness this week. About how and why we build the walls we do and what the impact of this is on ourselves and our relationships at home and at work.

We build walls because they protect us

The town I live in has a castle dating back to the 11th century and spending some time there yesterday it struck me that groups of people have been building metaphorical and actual walls for centuries.

Before I continue, you might be expecting a castle like this:

Vulnerability, the walls we build

When Berkhamsted Castle actually now looks like this:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berkhamsted_Castle_Jan_2007.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons. Attribution: Winstainforth at the English language Wikipedia

Its current state belies a muscular history that began when the victorious French king, William the Conqueror, accepted the English surrender after the Battle of Hastings.

We build walls out of a desire to both control and protect

Yesterday, as I stood against the rough flint exterior, I noticed the cold in the shadow of the high stone wall, eclipsing the view of the sky above. These walls, together with the moat and the other earthwork defences were designed to keep people safe at a time of great doubt and insecurity.  And it must have been formidably difficult to attempt to attack this place.

The trouble is your protection can become your prison

Which is what happened in Berkhamsted in 1216 when the castle came under siege for two weeks and eventually the occupants had to surrender.

As I sat on the hill overlooking what is now a rather benign scene I remembered a client – who I will call Daniel – who came to my office for coaching.

Change and insecurity trigger defensiveness 

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The hippo, the salesman and the significance of shoes

The hippo, the salesman and the significance of shoes

by Moyra Mackie on November 8, 2013

This week I’ve been asking myself how bad things have to get before we ask for help.

I’m thinking of all the people who struggle with a relationship without seeking counselling. Or those who wrestle with a problem at work and try and solve it on their own, rather than ask for help from managers or peers, or even a coach. Brené Brown, in her research into relationships, discovered we have a strong social imperative to appear strong and avoid feeling vulnerable.  Yet she believes:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Which reminds me of an extraordinary day I spent back in Zimbabwe

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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