Archive for CRR Global

Develop Intelligent Teams for Optimal Performance in an Ever-Changing Landscape

An intelligent team—sounds good, huh? But what is it and how do you get it? These are the questions I am preparing to answer on Wednesday when I lead a workshop at Southern Oregon University for members of a high-tech company, timber products company and municipality. And while these seem like disparate organizations, the concepts and steps needed to create intelligent teams are the same for all.

Let’s start with a description. Anchored in constructive collaboration, intelligent teams optimize functioning for enhanced performance, greater productivity and intense creativity. They are critical to successfully navigate the changes we face daily in today’s organizations.

An intelligent team is deeply fluent in the competencies from emotional and social intelligence—the ability to interpret and manage your own emotions to the benefit of the situation and to read and respond with empathy to the feelings of others. Add to this an understanding of social situations and a big-picture perspective. In other words, it’s moving from a frame of “I” to “you” and then “we.”

An intelligent team takes this a step further and employs Relationship Systems Intelligence—the capacity to move beyond personal concerns to a powerful, generative group identity with resilience and resources to address challenges as our world transforms. Sound amazing? Well, it is!

My knowledge of this topic comes directly from hands-on training I received over the last four years at CRR Global’s Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching workshops and from reading CRR founder Marita Fridjhon’s 2016 book, Creating Intelligent Teams. Marita coauthored the book with Anne Rød. My thanks to Marita for permission to quote/paraphrase liberally.

In this blog, I will share the five principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) and give you a few things to consider while contemplating your organization’s intelligence. Future blog posts will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

Five Principles of Intelligent Teams

  1. Each relationship system (team) has its own unique entity.
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System.
  3. The team has the answers.
  4. Roles belong to the team, not the individuals.
  5. Change is constant.

What Does This Mean?

  1. Each relationship system has its own unique entity. Any time there are two or more people, they create a “system” or “team entity.” This thing is bigger than the sum of its parts. Intelligent teams are aware of the system and together act as a system—as a “we” vs. a “you” or “me.”
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System. (Everyone is right—partially!) A strong system is one where all members’ voices are heard, which only happens with trust and willingness to share without repercussions. Together, they can add enough information to the system to create an intelligent entity.
  3. The team has the answers. This is one of my favorites! We hold true that relationship systems are naturally intelligent, generative and creative. Kind of like the old 1+1=3 equation and underscored by mutual accountability and responsibility to speak up. Disagreement is good—it’s simply what can happen as more information (voices) is added to the system as it works toward intelligent outcomes.
  4. Roles belong to the team. Relationship systems rely on roles for their organization and execution of functions. For example, there are functional roles (boss, customer service, IT) and emotional roles (peacekeeper, visionary, truth-teller). These roles belong to the system, not the individuals who inhabit the system. If a person leaves the system, the system regenerates and fills the roles as necessary.
  5. Change is constant. Relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence, always in the process of expressing their potential. By noticing signals, team members can explore hidden opportunities and help the entity remain open to new ideas and inspirations that would not be accessible to an individual.

In my next post, I’ll explore the key competencies of an intelligent team along with pointers on how to develop those key competencies. In the meantime, take a look at your own team/organization and get a sense as to where you are now.

Here are a few things to consider (straight from the book):

  1. How would you describe the leadership in your team and organization?
  2. Who are your colleagues? How many are Millennials? Other? How are you bridging the generation gap and working together optimally?
GENERATIONS KEY
  • Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: Born 1996 and later. (<21)
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995. (22–40)
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976. (41–52)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. (53–71)
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before. (>72)
  1. How well do you know your colleagues’ background, talents, special skills? How often do you use their specialized knowledge?
  2. How often and in what situations do you and your colleagues work as a team system rather than independent individuals?
  3. How high do you think the level of RSI in your team is?

Questions?

Please call or email me. Let’s see what’s possible in developing the intelligence of your team.

That’s Not How Thanksgiving Is Supposed to Be! Or How You Can Make the Most of Team Differences.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And that means spicy Bloody Marys, roasted turkey with orange cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing, roasted potatoes, gravy, green beans, scalloped oysters and too many desserts. Two hours later, out come the rye bread, mayo, lettuce and dill pickles to make turkey sandwiches. Perfect.

What?! That doesn’t sound like Thanksgiving at your house? Why not? What’s wrong with you?

Funny how we think the way we do things is the right way. Maybe even the only way. “Of course everyone does it like this. That’s how it’s done.”

Imagine my surprise years ago while celebrating Thanksgiving at my college boyfriend’s house. I remember it well. His mother brought out the cranberry sauce—still in the shape of the can she’d extracted it from. It wasn’t even mashed up to appear homemade! (Big judgment on my part.)

Consider this. If someone can be thrown off-kilter by something as simple as a different style of cranberry sauce, just imagine the chaos that different work and management styles can create.

We figure we are doing things the right way. The way it’s done. But no, all of a sudden, one of our colleagues does something contrary. What’s wrong with him? It’s like we’re from different planets.

How can we recognize that our differences are an asset? That they create stronger teams? How can we become open to new ideas without judgment?

When teams are struggling with their differences, it can be helpful to use the metaphor of traveling to other lands. We invite them to consider that each person lives in their own “land,” which is informed by their traditions, upbringing, education and other influences. We emphasize that we are asking them to share what it’s like in their lands and then to travel to others’ lands. Travel allows us to experience the world from another’s perspective.

What does it take to be a good traveler? Lack of judgment, open-mindedness, willingness to try new things and curiosity. Good travelers leave judgment at the border.

As you visit your colleagues’ lands, ask questions like:

  1. What is unique, interesting or edgy about your land?
  2. What are some of the personal biases and prejudices that show up in your land?
  3. Who/what is not welcome in your land?
  4. What is your favorite thing about your land?

Take time to visit each person’s land and learn more about it. Doing this, your team should have developed some empathy, curiosity and appreciation for each others’ lands. They will be able to chart a new geography, bringing the best from each land to most benefit the organization.

To create your new land together, ask questions like:

  1. What do you appreciate about your colleagues’ lands?
  2. What would be helpful to you?
  3. What would you like to import to the land you create together?
  4. How will your new land serve the organization’s goals?

We tend to think of our own values and beliefs as the “correct ones.” Yet every person on your team has a different narrative and perspective, all equally valid. There is no one truth. Organizations flourish when differences exist because it allows for even greater learning and innovating possibilities.

Perhaps it is time for your team to do some traveling. Let Chris Cook be your travel guide and take your organization to its peak. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris to start making travel plans today!

Note: Lands work is based on a tool from CRR Global.

What’s the Best Blend of Mentoring and Coaching?

Mentee Artwork (Orange Fields Green Mountains with Lamb)

All artwork by a girl Chris mentored for five years as part of the Soroptimist Strong Girls Strong Women program

Coaching and mentoring are close to my heart. Now a certified coach, I am fortunate to be in contact with a mentor I have had since my senior year in college over three decades ago. A retired journalist and professor, she is an author, a woman of great wisdom—and still my mentor.

Because of my experience in mentoring, coaching training and work with leaders related to emotional intelligence, I have been asked to lead a workshop at the University of New Mexico’s Mentoring Institute Annual Conference this year. The topic is “Developing Excellence in Leadership and Coaching—for Mentors.”

This blog post features an interview about that workshop.

Interview with Chris Cook

In this edition of Mentoring and Coaching Monthly, you will find an interview with 2016 Pre-Conference Workshop leader Chris Cook. Her workshop, “Developing Excellence in Leadership and Coaching—for Mentors,” is sure to have something for everyone.

Mentee Artwork (Girl in Mixed Media)Q: Can you describe your background? How did you get into mentoring?

A: My background includes 30+ years in marketing for professional services, higher education, nonprofits and other businesses. A few years ago, I earned a master in management degree, and in the process I found positive psychology. I loved it! I found a way to mesh marketing and positive psychology in work that focuses on helping organizations develop and live their brand. There’s a lot of coaching involved—and some mentoring.

For coaching, I trained at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and at CRR Global, and I am certified by the International Coaches Federation. I work with a variety of individuals and organizations.

I am both a mentor and a coach. Actually, coaching and mentoring are very close. There is a distinction though. Mentors work with mentees who want to learn the skills and knowledge their mentors have developed to further their life goals. Coaches work with clients to help them discover their greatest purpose, passion and values and to help them lead/live intentionally—in resonant choice.

As a mentor and a coach, I’ve found there are times in which you need to be one and not the other. Part of this workshop is to help mentors learn how and when to use skills that come from the coaching profession to augment their mentoring skills.

Mentee Artwork (Bird Collage)Q: What else can those attending your workshop expect?

A: They can expect 3+ hours of hands-on, experiential learning. I will share tools I have used over the years, and we will practice and talk about ways to use them in different situations. I expect the participants will learn as much from each other as they will from me!

Q: Without giving too much away, can you describe the co-active coaching model and the relationship systems model?

A: The co-active coaching model was developed by Karen Kimsey-House and Henry Kimsey-House—two pioneers in the coaching world and cofounders of the Coaches Training Institute. It emphasizes a partnership between the client and the coach, and it also promotes a combination of deepening understanding (co) and forwarding the action (active).

The relationship systems model I use is based on work by Marita Fridjhon and Faith Fuller, the cofounders of CRR Global. The premise is that we are all in relationship—with ourselves, our partners, teams, organizations, etc. Here we coach the system, not the individuals.

Both coaching methods have been used around the world and in nearly every type of organization with nearly every kind of person.

Mentee Artwork (Composition in Yellow)
Q: Do you believe that everyone has the potential for creativity?

A: One of the most basic premises of coaching using these methods is that we believe the people/systems are naturally intelligent and creative and resourceful.

Q: What constitutes an effective leader/coach?

A: There are several skills that are critical—mostly based on having highly developed emotional intelligence. The good part is EI can be learned. It can be developed. It’s not like IQ, which you are born with a level and that’s the level where it remains.

Q: Is an effective leader born, or can anyone learn to lead effectively?

A: I believe people can learn emotional intelligence, and, with that, they can learn leadership skills and tools. The competencies of EI—self-awareness, self-regulation/motivation, empathy and relationship awareness—are the foundation to all relationships. Leaders set the stage for how the relationship—or organization—will work together.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to those entering into a leadership position?

A: Find a mentor and get a coach. There’s nothing like having someone help you through a transition, help you grow in a new role and help you develop your own leadership style. Plus, it’s true when they say, “It’s lonely at the top.” A mentor and a coach will be your ally, and they will hold you accountable to take the steps to maximize your potential.

Project Teams: Your Nemesis or a Sure Way to Succeed? The Devil Is in the Details.

CRR Global Founder CEO and Course Leader Marita Fridjhon with Students Chris Cook and Adele James

CRR Global founder, CEO and course leader Marita Fridjhon with students Chris Cook and Adele James

How often do you work in distinct teams to achieve a goal? (Probably quite often if you work for an organization of any size.) And how often do these team projects go perfectly? (Hmm … if my own experience is any indication, my guess is there are usually challenges.) What happens when they don’t go perfectly? (Well? What happens?)

I’ve spent the last two days in a CRR Global workshop that recognizes and teaches that no person is an island. We are all part of complex systems—families, teams, communities, companies. And we can design ways to make sure each of these systems has a greater chance to succeed. If we begin any team assignment by “designing a team alliance,” we can set the team up to succeed. This is a positive foundation that builds on the research that shows increasing the positivity on project teams also increases productivity (Goleman 2005; Losada and Heaphy 2004).

Here are the three simple steps to follow:

1. Identify the team’s agenda

In other words, what is the team tasked to do? What will success look like? How will success be measured?

2. Create a team agreement

In creating a team agreement, ask questions such as:

  • What is the atmosphere or culture we wish our team to work within?
  • How do we embody that atmosphere or culture?
  • What will help our partnership flourish?
  • What kinds of behaviors will not be tolerated?
  • How will we act when things get difficult?
  • What do we each agree to be accountable for?

3. Revisit the team agreement on a regular basis—especially when things get difficult

Research proves teams that create agreements about protocol—especially during times of conflict and decision-making—do better than teams with no such agreements (Guttman 2008). By consciously exploring ways to increase cohesion and alignment, the team greatly enhances its probability of success.

Learn how to ensure more successful projects within your teams. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Give Chris a call at 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us. Let’s design a team alliance that can set the tone for many successes to come.

Resources

Losada, M. & Heaphy, E. (February 2004). “The role of positivity in teams.” American Behavioral Scientist, 47(6).

Goleman, D. (2005). Primal Leadership. Harvard Business Press.

Guttman, H. (2008). Great Business Teams. Wiley.