Teams: Circle of Impact Conversation Guides

This is one in a continuing series of posts on my Circle of Impact Guides.

Impact teams characteristics and strategies

Teams are a primary tool for organizations to get work done. Teams function in a wide variety of ways and for many purposes.

This guide describes my understanding of how a team functions in a more open, collaborative manner.

The guide is divided between a list describing the characteristics of a team member, and how to strategically develop a team.

The guide purpose is to facilitate conversation, not to act as a formula that every team be like. The conversation should be open and responsible. Your discussion advance your team toward greater clarity, alignment and ownership of your teams. The guide is a starting point for understanding what your team should be like. In other words, this guide is not the last word on teams. It is just a tool for establishing a basis for discussion within a team about how their work should be conducted .Common Collaborative Networking Approaches

In some contexts, I refer to these teams as Collaborative Network Groups. These teams can take many forms as way to support members, and creater a higher level of collaboration across organizational boundaries. 

I am part of a few Collaborative Network Groups. One is the Lessons in Leadership corp group.  Another is the Collaborative Solutions Group, a collection of individuals from a wide diversity of companies and disciplines within the financial services industry. Our principal focus is family-held businesses, though not exclusively. (If this interests you, get in touch.)

How To Use This Guide:

Take your team through a discussion of the Member Characteristics.  Have each member evaluate the team based on these criteria. Do this anonymously. Talk about each characteristic and determine how to measure each. As you do so, use the Circle of Impact guide for your discussion. You can ask your questions this way.

Do team members practice personal initiative in sharing ideas, building stronger relationships and improving the functioning of the group?

Does the team have a giving-orientation? Do team members take initiative to help other team members in ways that build a more collaborative group?

Questions like these open up the awareness of members to see how their team is functioning. This takes time, and needs a willingness by members to be open and transparent. If you can overcome resistance to change, your team will become more effective.

When starting a group.

Hierarchy of Connection

A week hardly goes by that I don't get an invitation to join a networking or study group. Most of them have interesting topics and people involved, and most have not lasted beyond a couple meetings. 

Why is that?

Because they make two fatal errors.

First, the idea that brings people together is too big to gain traction.

Second, relationships are treated as secondary to the idea.

There are two groups in which I am a member that work, and work well. They work because the idea behind each, though different, is small enough to give everyone something to do.

In both of these groups, the relationships are more important than the cause that brings us together.

In the old industrial model, people were interchangable parts, and therefore expendable. 

In the new organizational model, relationships come before everything. Come before the idea, the purpose, the business model, even the impact.

If this sounds radical and alien, it should be. We've all been socialized to think we are not important. The group, the company or the team is more important. These are not relationships. These are social structures that are parallel to organizational structures.

Relationships are different. They transcend structure. Because they do, it means that when the relationships are healthy, anything is possible. Anything. No limits.

All structure is a boundary separating what is in and what is out. Most of us live in the box of some structure which dictates who we are, what we are permitted to do, and how we are to do it. That's fine as long as it fits who we genuinely are.

I am not an anarchist. Far from it. I am a believer in the power of people to collaboratively reach their potential by breaking down barriers.  Most organizational efforts are not about reaching potential, but creating efficiency toward some goal.

The organic nature of relationships counter the inorganic nature of most organizations.

People do need structure for healthy relationships. However, the structure is social, not organizational. The business of a group grows out of the relationships, not vice versa.

A way to approach putting relationships first is to create a Collaborative Network Group (CNG). If may look like any other networking / referral group. However, the difference is that the relationships that members have with one another, and by extension, with clients is different.

A Collaborative Network Group is characterized by being Collaborative, Values-centered, Relationship-driven, with a Giving orientation and an operating structure that is Adaptive to the needs and environment changes that are taking place.

For example, the most successful one of these groups that I've ever been in is called Lessons In Leadership. While not altering our purpose, we've realized that we need to offer opportunities for people who have attended our events to have more opportunities to socialize. So, tomorrow night we are holding our first Summer Social. No other agenda than to get together and build relationships with one another. What will come from it. Who knows? That's the magic of putting relationships first.

When you find a passion for something, realize that the key to making a difference with it lies in how you relate that passion to people. Building relationships first allows for the purpose of your group to grow and be sustainable.

Say Thanks Every Day for CNGs

About fifteen months ago, as an outgrowth of the Johnny Bunko contest , I began the Say Thanks Every Day social network.  In addition, I saw how gratitude could be more than just a feeling, and more a practice. From that perception came the Five Actions of Gratitude.

Five Actions Gratitude
These five practices have been stewing in my brain lately. I've begun to see them in a new light. Originally, I thought them a good organizational practice. Now, I'm beginning to see how they are an excellent networking model. Here's how.

Do the following actions with a group of people whom you invite to join you as a Collaborative Network Group.

Say Thanks to one another

Give Back to one another, your clients and community.

Make Welcome new clients, colleagues and potential members of your CNG.

Honor Others as making important contributions to who you are and your success in life and work.

Create Goodness by elevating the value of what you bring to your network and clients.

Imagine a collaborative team of people conducting their business this way.

I've written a lot about creating a Collaborative Network Group here.  Practicing the Five Actions of Gratitude is how to transform a simple business network group into a sustainable source of support and clients. It will certainly distinguish you and your network in the marketplace.


With changes in fee policies at Ning, I decide to move the Say Thanks Every Day social network from there to a Facebook group page. I invite you to join us.