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How to Build Extraordinary Teams (At Work and At Home)


by Catherine Gray, Partner

The success of any business strategy to a large degree depends on the ability and quality of the team tasked with bringing it forward.  Over and over again we see compelling strategies, clear tactical plans and agreed upon accountabilities fall short because of the inability of a team to come together in an effective way.  So as we enter this holiday season with year-end deadlines fast approaching , workloads coming to a feverish crescendo and family landing at your doorstep,  we wanted to share with you a few of the lessons we’ve learned over the years about how to build extraordinary teams and relationships.

Teams are built brick by brick, over time, like a house
The mortar that holds teams together is a combination of a shared identity, clear focus and
strong relationships. These things do not miraculously come together overnight. Instead, they must be built over time and require practice. The first place to start is in understanding what a relationship entails and creating the right conditions for it to thrive. At Trium, we define relationship as the interplay between three things: you, the other(s) and the conditions you face together. While these three things create a relationship, they do not ensure that the relationship will work or be effective. Healthy relationships are ones where high-levels of trust, authenticity and empathy are present AND where individuals have an accurate view of the conditions they face together. Absent any one of these things, the relationship immediately begins to break down. So the next time you are having an issue with a team or family member, check to see where you may be out of alignment. Has trust been broken? Is someone not being authentic? Is there a distinct lack of empathy and listening happening? Or do you have a very different picture of your current situation and what needs to happen? Teams and relationships begin to fall apart when one or all of these foundational pieces are weak.

You are partnered with your life lessons
Whether you like it or not, the faults we see in our partners – business and domestic – often point us to precisely what we need to work on in ourselves. The strongest teams we’ve seen are made up of individuals who are willing to stay in curiosity rather than reactivity when they are triggered by a partner or team member. This is not an easy task, but if you find yourself in this situation, use your reactivity as a signal to turn inward rather than outward. Recognize that ultimately the only things you can change are yourself and your relation to the issue at hand. This kind of self mastery is at the heart of all successful leaders, teams and relationships. If you are willing to see your part in a situation and adopt a truly Responsible Mindset for all that is occurring in front of you, it will open doors to deeper relationships, raise the bar for all members of a team and inevitably lead to more innovative and effective solutions in the boardroom and dining room alike.

Bring business rigor to your relationships
Many times we do not give our teams and relationships the same attention we give to the “business.” With publicly stated goals, priorities and initiatives, we are structured in our approach, quick to respond and unflinchingly focused. However, when it comes to our teams and, sometimes our families, we oftentimes become loose with the same discipline and rigor that made us successful elsewhere. While development meetings, culture chats and addressing team dynamics might be dismissed quickly as the “softer side of the business,” we urge you to hold team effectiveness and relationship-building as a “hard science.” Study it, value it and tend to it on a regular basis; otherwise team issues will surface in disruptive ways, taking away valuable time from the “business.” After all, there is no such thing as a business. It is simply the result of a group of individuals working together on a daily basis to achieve a stated goal in the world. How individuals work together and the quality of their relationships will determine how fast and how much success is ultimately achieved.

Don’t forget to slow down and roll down the windows
As workdays grow longer and we become increasingly connected by technology, more and more leaders and their teams are on a 24/7 schedule. While this has enabled us to accomplish much more in the course of a day, it has also increased the overall pace and pressure in the workplace and at home. Every client we work with struggles with this issue. Are you moving at such a fast pace that your relationships are transactional and your team is nearing burnout? Do you feel you don’t have time to connect with those around you in a present and centered way? If so, it is now more important than ever to make centering yourself and connecting with your internal world a priority. Work is endless, your life is not. Truly effective teams, and yes, even tight-knit families, place a high degree of importance on slowing down and creating space for presence, reflection and connection. This practice is all too quickly becoming a scarce commodity in our personal and professional lives and is vital to effective decision-making and satisfaction in our daily experiences. So, as you move down the road at the speed of light, don’t forget to slow down from time to time to look around, take in your surroundings, reflect on where you have been and where you are headed, appreciate the journey and connect with your fellow passengers on the ride.


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