How healthy conflict brought us together
"What is the latent potential we’ve got in this room?"
So asked Karen Beattie, Managing Director of The Growth Faculty, framed against a backdrop of kite surfers battling a rough ocean outside the conference room of Sydney’s Long Reef Golf Club.
And, the waves became symbolic of the next two days, where 11 members of The Growth Faculty executive team rose up and plunged down, frothed and pushed forward, all in the name of leadership training and team building.
Conducted by XGap Director Martin West, the workshop centred on the teachings of The Table Group's Patrick Lencioni, organisational culture expert and author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Lencioni is the headliner at Building High Performance Teams, this year's National Growth Summit, and Karen was keen for us all to have first-hand experience of the Lencioni method.
Prior to the workshop, we’d each completed Right Path 4 and 6 personality profile testing, where I learned, for example, that I was a supporter who was an abstract thinker with compassion.
Others were natural networkers, introverts, methodical workers, cautious players. We watched in fascination as our names and scores were listed against various behavioural traits. Person A has a score of 41 for conscientiousness, Person B is 46 for extroversion, and 34 for compassion…on it went.
Then, Karen shared her score for adventurousness.
“80” she read out.
“80?” Martin’s head swung around, his eyes wide.
“80” she confirmed.
Palpably excited, the unflappable former RAAF FA-18 fighter pilot Martin, perhaps sensing her potential as a fellow fighter pilot, fairly flew across the room to snatch up her printed sheet to stare at the score.
“I’ve never seen this before! Wow, oh wow. You are in the top 0.1% for this. Oh, this is amazing, oh this is so helpful,” he gushed incredulously, flipping over the pages and reading the individual factor scores that led to the celebrity result, before whipping out his mobile to snap a pic of the page.
While Martin took photos, he shared with us the unique challenges of working with such a high scorer (good tolerance for risk, often thinks they are right, and often are right!), then we were asked to choose eight strengths and four weaknesses from our own (less exciting) unique profiles that we thought best described us.
Mine included the strengths: 'ability to overcome unexpected challenges' and 'comfortable in a broad range of social environments', and the struggles: 'may lack focus or structure' and 'may jump from one idea or subject to another.' Spot the journalist anyone?
We then worked on an exercise to build team trust.
Trust, Martin says, is built on a foundation of shared personal information, such simple things as where we were born, and a challenging or interesting story from our childhood.
Around the room we went, offering snapshots of multiple house moves, happy times, parental disharmony, bullying, and childhood anxiety.
Some showed vulnerability, others perhaps hovered slightly above it. Either way, a new understanding of why each of us behaved a certain way emerged.
Constructive conflict is only possible if trust exists, according to Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. And, conflict is what precedes commitment, accountability and results.
“There’s a saying ‘Meeting room silence = water cooler violence’”, said Martin. “We need to create an environment where we can debate ideas. It feels messy, conflict is messy.”
“Until you can say what you really think, it’s hard to build a truly healthy team. In a nutshell, you’re high scoring on results and commitment, but you’re too polite,” Martin concluded.
The workshop continued, with challenges and facilitation to increase idea sharing and debating. It was messy. It wasn’t comfortable. We broke into teams, we came back together. We argued over priorities, we were pushed to share opinions, we voiced doubts, we shared “hairbrained ideas”, and we finally pinned down our shared goal, and the main areas of focus needed to reach that goal.
A new meeting schedule was agreed upon, and a dashboard was created to keep us accountable, with leaders appointed to oversee each focus area.
The kite surfers lifted and turned on the waves.
And, we shook ourselves off, and left the room. Exhausted and a little soggier, but closer as a team, and alive to the possibilities, and adventures, of the year ahead.
Patrick Lencioni will be live on stage for his first ever Australian visit. Building High Performance Teams is the theme of the National Growth Summit being presented by The Growth Faculty in Sydney on March 13, 2019, and Melbourne on March 15, 2019. Tickets on sale now.
Members of The Growth Faculty receive the greatest ticket discount.
Not a member? Join The Growth Faculty today to access exclusive content, including an interview with Patrick Lencioni at The Growth Faculty On Demand Business Book Club.