A-Players don’t make an A-Team

 In Chamber Music, Teams

A sole focus on creating a team comprised of A-Players can result in “silo-mentality.” Team-building exercises won’t bring your team to a state of collective virtuosity – additional practices are required.

Jim Collins, in Good to Great advises us to “get the right people on the bus” and they will do the right thing at the right time so that an organization succeeds and thrives. Imagine an executive team comprised of “A” players who all know how to run their area, are great communicators, are creative, and are achievement oriented. When these leaders only focus on leading their respective areas without collaborating with their peers, they may achieve success within their areas, but the organization as a whole may miss opportunities or even make huge errors in strategy and execution. This situation is commonly known as “silo mentality” – I experienced silo-mentality on multiple occasions within the corporate environment. When we brought consultants in to facilitate team-building exercises, we felt better about working together, but we often fell back into old patterns within our silos.

If you have a team of all “A” players, it’s unlikely they be able to instantly form a high performing team without taking the time to “gel” as a team. A few special ingredients are required to move a team to collective virtuosity! Team building exercises alone will not create what I call a generative team.

A Generative Team originates and evolves ideas, relationships, and processes. A Generative Team has the capacity to express Collective Virtuosity, a magical reflexive process in which, according to Marotto & colleagues, “group members are transformed by their own peak performance.”

High-performing groups such as surgical room staff, aircraft carrier teams, and fire-fighters have found a way to create a collective energy in which every motion across the team is fluid. Communications may occur with or without words, and yet there is instant understanding. Csikszentmihalyi calls this experience flow: effortless action, plus an optimal experience which results in feelings of bliss for those involved. During flow states, people experience time differently; time feels suspended or may pass by quickly. A person who is in the flow focuses on her or his activity and is immune to distracting thoughts or feelings.

This is the magic that accomplished musicians routinely invoke.

Music ensembles enter into a group flow state – in the jazz genre it’s called being “in the groove.” Classical chamber musicians use certain techniques during their rehearsals to help them move into a flow state. We can adapt these techniques for organizational teams.

I will explore these techniques in future blog posts as I reveal the six enablers of a Generative Team: positivity, commitment, empowerment, the ability to shift perspective, forming a We Presence, and the expression of energy and love..

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