One of my favorite elements of our global network is the opportunity to discuss ideas with EQ allies from around the globe. Through the lenses of culture and language and across borders and time zones, we’re forced, invited, to reconsider “simple” words. Yesterday I was in the sauna of summertime Tokyo, today in the fog-swathed cool of the San Francisco Bay, and amid jetlag I’ve been thinking about “teamwork.”
Tanabe-san, our Regional Network Director in Japan, said that when our breath is pacing together, we are working as a team. A few weeks ago, I saw teams rowing in Boston (and a few weeks before that, on the Thames) — a beautiful metaphor of this kind of teamwork.
At that dinner, Patty-san, the person who’s put up with being married to me for 21 years as of last week, brought up a different view of team: When we are “totally in sync,” are we able to spark new ideas? Or does that kind of generative thinking only happen when there’s a dynamic tension?
So is a team about Harmony or Synergy?
Are they mutually exclusive?
I suspect not. In our Vital Signs Assessment, we measure five factors:
- Trust – the underlying container of safety that permits sharing, risk-taking, openness.
- Execution – a shared focus on achieving together.
- Change – readiness to flex, adapt, innovate.
- Teamwork – exchanging perspective and information.
- Motivation – energy that comes from alignment around purpose.
My experience is that when these elements come together — especially when forged in a context of trust — a team can both row together, and make the messy splashes that open new potential.
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