The four stages of team building: Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing have become established as the acknowledged method for any leader charged with building a new team.
In order to explore some alternative leadership narratives here are 10 rhyming options for leaders who find themselves facing different kinds of challenges thrown up by the circumstances. At the conclusion of each narrative is a short note about when such strategies might be appropriately adopted.
As ever, the wise leader would not stick to a strategy encapsulated by four rhyming words but select from across the range of behaviours in order to identify those they need to adopt during the team building process.
At the very least by getting a leader to reflect upon the ten options they begin to see that there’s a range of alternatives open to them – each dependent upon the circumstances they encounter.
1. Knowing – Showing – Flowing – Growing
Knowing: getting to know each other as colleagues.
Showing: showing each other how you do things way with a view to selecting/creating the best;
Flowing: allowing the ideas to flow in a free and easy manner to generate new ways of doing things;
Growing: all getting behind these accepted behaviours in order to grow the business.
When to use it: when the individuals are recognised as already being highly effective.
2. Exciting – Inviting – Uniting – Rewriting
Exciting: stimulating and inspiring people with a vibrant vision for the future;
Inviting: inviting people to either join in on this journey or to leave:
Uniting: coming together as a united team behind the vision;
Rewriting: creating a new playbook for doing business.
When to use it: when there’s a need to bring people together behind a new vision.
3. Diving – Driving – Striving – Thriving
Diving: diving straight into the change process leaving no time for people to think;
Driving: driving people hard to make the changes happen;
Striving: maintaining the urgency to succeed:
Thriving: celebrating every sign that shows that the change us delivering results.
When to use it: when it’s likely that individuals will put up strong resistance to the change process.
4. Shaking – Waking – Making – Staking
Shaking: shaking the entire business to its very core with new challenges and expectations;
Waking: waking people up from their slumbers to overcome long/term inertia;
Making: constructing new way of doing things;
Staking: getting everyone to take a stake in the future by taking ownership of the new ways of doing things.
When to use it: when there is a strong aversion to change, and a reliance upon the status quo.
5. Caring – Tearing – Sharing – Daring
Caring: caring for the people who are most affected by the change by showing empathy and concern;
Tearing: helping people to tear themselves away from the previous way of doing things;
Sharing: creating a bond by getting people to share their ideas to generate new practice;
Daring: helping and encouraging people to take the leap into the unknown.
When to use it: when people have been damaged by the change process and who’s confidence has taken a dent.
6. Revealing – Appealing – Repealing – Unsealing
Revealing: revealing a detailed plan for the future and the reasons why it needs to happen this way;
Appealing: appealing to people to join you in this course of action;
Repealing: deciding which rules and way of doing things no longer pertain;
Unsealing: releasing the talent in the group.
When to use it: when the team has lost confidence in themselves and their organisation
7. Leaving – Grieving – Weaving – Believing
Leaving: leaving behind the old ways of doing things;
Grieving: giving people time to openly grieve for those lost times;
Weaving: helping others to help you weave a new narrative for the business;
Believing: people get behind you and the future and make the vision their own.
When to use it: when people are likely to have exceptional difficulty leaving the past behind – especially after the loss of a great leader.
8. Liberating – Integrating – Activating – Accelerating
Liberating: freeing people from the bonds and boundaries that limited their potential;
Integrating: pulling everyone together behind the vision;
Activating: creating a momentum by tapping into their newfound enthusiasm;
Accelerating: using this time as launchpad for breakthrough.
When to use it: When people have been trapped in an unhealthy and unproductive way of working
9. Visioning – Missioning – Positioning – Commissioning
Visioning: creating a joint and powerful vision for what the team is going to achieve in the future and by what means;
Missioning: creating a shared understanding of why the team exists and its core reason for being;
Positioning: getting each members of the team in the right place ready to move forwards;
Commissioning: establishing individual purpose, expectations and deliverables.
When to use it: when a group comes together who quite obviously share a common vision for the future.
10. Leadership – Stewardship – Membership – Partnership
Leadership: providing an unambiguous and clear lead to the rest of the team;
Stewardship: establishing the role of the team to maintain and sustain the organisation for an extended period of time;
Membership: every member of the team affiliating and assuring his or her loyalty to the team;
Partnership: working together to achieve the sustainability of the organisation.
When to use it: when the organisation is seeking to maintain a steady and existing direction of travel.