Disconnecting Team Disconnects

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Anyone who has ever led a team, dreams of building, motivating, and growing the ultimate dream team, that just continues year over year to become dreamier!

The reality, no matter where you lead, and no matter how many people you lead, is that more often than not, things don’t start, continue, and sustain the same way in the real world as they do in the brainstorming stage. 

No leader is exempt, and even the highest performing leader, team, organization, big business, or small business is going to one day face the challenge to LEAD TEAMS FROM DISHARMONY TO HARMONY. 

The best and brightest of leaders, the leaders that are difference makes, are the leaders that can recognize when DISHARMONY has infiltrated the team, and act quickly to orchestrate the culture to one of HARMONY. 

So, let’s dig in a bit.

disharmony monster


1. Trust

There is no exception to the rule of trust and the importance it plays within a team.  If trust does not exist, then a team will not function cohesively.  The trust must be fluid, flowing back and forth, up and down, side to side amongst the team.  Without trust flowing through a team like the breathable air of success the atmosphere becomes toxic, and the toxicity is then the culture that has naturally evolved.  Collaboration and communication become mere concepts, rather than the norm, and will likely lead to total team chaos. 

Trust is delicate.  Trust takes time.  Trust needs to be nurtured.  Trust happens on purpose, and by design. 

Trust, once broken, is hard to put back together again, and have it look, feel, sound, smell, and taste like trust. 

So how do you create the correct climate to nurture trust?

  • Where the leader goes, so goes the team.  Model Trust.  Simply put, that requires macromangement rather than micromanagement. Assign meaningful problems to solve, and TRUST the team to creatively find solutions.
  • Be clear with the role each member plays.
  • Be clear with the expectations.
  • Listen to understand others.
  • Communicate objectively the good and the bad on a regular basis, so everyone is up to date on all aspects.
  • Talk about milestones, deadlines, demands and pressures, and talk about “what” those are, “why” they are in place, and “what” they mean to each person when achieved, and when not achieved.
  • 2. Communication

Poor communication (spoken, non-verbal, listening, written, emoji, etc.) is the most dangerous, and prolific cause of team failure! 

But communication breakdowns don’t always show up as actively poor communication such as someone speaks abrasively to someone else.  A common form of communication collapse appears when the individual either knowingly or unknowingly, either motivated by the desire for individual accolades or fear of others taking credit, simply keeps information to themselves.  This is a learned behavior, part of a culture either present or past, and will jeopardize an entire team.  This problem is magnified when it comes directly from the leader, but it is extremely toxic amongst the ranks.  In today’s world of distributed workforces, this area needs a tremendous amount of attention as compared to teams of the past. 

Communication culture starts with the leader.  

How can a leader cultivate the correct culture of communication?

  • Clarity of how the varying channels of communication will be used, and then Clarity in how the leader uses the channels is important.  In other words, “Communicate to your team in the channels you expect them to use to communicate”. 
  • Model the expectations of professionalism and collaboration.
  • Listen more than you speak, clarify what you do not understand, and confirm you understand what is being said to you before proceeding. 
  • Be clear and timely with written follow up of action plans, expectations, responsibilities, and next steps. 
  • Ask for input and encourage questions from everyone.
  • Involve team members in the problem solving and praise the efforts in the solution process. 
  • 3. Unclear Roles

Be clear on responsibilities and roles.  Nothing stops a team more than a lack of clarity on whose responsibility something is, and that just leads to blame, mistrust, and a chaotic workplace. 

All of this underlying, negative, toxic energy result in the team having no cohesion, and will end with a group of individuals who say team but demonstrate an inability to function as a group

Every leader believes that everyone they lead is clear on their role.

So how can clarity of roles be ensured?

  • Take the time with each member of the team and clearly define their roles and responsibilities.
  • Have the team member recite back to you their roles and responsibilities and listen to their understanding of the role and the responsibility in their words.
  • Clarify anything they might have missed in their summary.
  • Once the team members have all done this and are all clear on their individual role and responsibility, have each present to the group “who” they are, and “what” they do on the team, and in the role.
  • Effective leaders then have to “inspect what they expect”.  This practice will make sure everyone stays on task and maximizes everyone’s strengths, as well as optimize each role at the highest levels. 

4. Keep it Professional

Any time you get two or more people gathered, you are bound to encounter differing opinions, as well as simple personality clashes. 

As the leader, you need to work on keeping things professional.  To choose to ignore the dynamic of the team when they don’t get along on a personal level is a professional “no-no”. 

The personal clash becomes a professional problem and will not just magically go away by itself if ignored. 

The effective leader is not concerned with “what” happened, or “who” started it.  The effective leader communicates clearly (clear is kind), that the behavior is unprofessional, unacceptable, and uninvited from this point forward.  In other words, “you don’t have to like each other, but you do have to work together, and not damage the team.” 

What the leader can do is outline an expectation of an improved working relationship and involve those in the problem to help come up with solutions.  If the manager just “enacts” a fix, the problem, which is the team members problem, really just gets a fresh coat of paint, and doesn’t go away. 

How might a leader create the environment of involved problem solving with a team, when it comes to personality clashes? 

  • Treat this as a teaching moment, to reinforce what is acceptable and unacceptable team behaviors. 
  • Encourage team members to be responsible for the solution, and aware of the impact this has on the team. 
  • Catch them doing things “approximately right” and praise them for it.  They will repeat that over and over again, as human nature is to repeat what gets praised in a specific and timely manner. 
  • Be regular with the “inspect what you expect” for behavioral issues and their resolution, as these issues often resurface when unchecked. 
disharmony man

5. Allowing Poor Performance to Exist

Leaders need to master the skills of CONFRTONTING WITHOUT BEING CONFRONTATIONAL, as it applies to meeting or not meeting performance expectations. 

Simply ignoring poor performance is always the wrong answer, It sends the wrong message to those that are performing poorly, and it absolutely sends the wrong message to those that are performing at a “meets” or “exceeds” level.

Sometimes a leader is not good at objectively confronting a situation rather than a person.  Sometimes the leader has an affinity for the poor performer on a personal level, and just doesn’t want to upset that affinity, No matter what causes the leader to allow the poor performance to continue to exits, the fact remains, that the minute it is clear performance is off, it needs to be addressed. 

What are some best practices top leaders use to address poor performance? 

  • Meet one-on-one, privately with the team member at the earliest opportunity.
  • Define the issue objectively and ask them to explain why that issue is happening.  (For example, “I noticed you have been getting into the office later and later each morning for the past 2 weeks, why?)
  • Be supportive and encouraging.  Keep the responsibility to meet expectations on the team member.  Be clear and specific on when they have met expectations, and also, on when they have not.
  • Be clear on what has to change.  Be clear on actions, goals, and objectives.  Have a specific timeline for improvement. 
  • Have the team member read back to you what they are fixing, and what the actions, goals, objectives, and timelines are so that you both are on the same page.
  • Meet to review progress regularly, and timely. 
  • If changes are not made by the first meeting, the “why” needs to be explored, and a more stringent performance improvement plan may need to be put in place.

6. Expansive Mindset does not Exist

Leaders have been known to be “the rainmaker”, and sometimes a leader just can’t let go of that persona.  It is very difficult, even with the smallest of details, to step out of the way, and allow a mistake to occur.  After all, isn’t a mistake just a lesson on the way to getting it right.  When a leader lacks the expansive mindset, it takes to allow others to grow, they rob them of the opportunity to learn, and create a culture that cannot grow unless one person does everything.  It is the unspoken limitation that a leader imposes on the team, and it speaks so loudly in the unspoken voice to the team, that nothing else can be heard.  The leader is embodying the voice that screams “I don’t believe in you” to every member of the team. 

An expansive mindset is the opposite of a micro-managing mindset, and the top leaders learn that true empowerment starts within them, and their mindset, and spreads like wildfire through the team.

How can a leader learn to develop an expansive mindset?

  • Delegating is not dumping!  Identify your strengths, and the strengths of others.  Hand your weakness to the team member whose strength it is.  Learn to lean on their strengths.
  • Focus on “getting it done” rather than “getting it done the way I have always done things”. 
  • This fosters the culture of TRUST.  The more you do this, the more TRUST is the culture.
  • Encourage members of the team to define problems and follow with 3 – 4 solutions to that challenge.  You will be amazed how the power of hearing and seeing it differently can create huge abundance within the group. 
  • 7. Poor Support

The definition of effective is simple….” get done what you set out to do”.

In order to be effective a team needs the right tools and needs to be proficient at the use of those tools. 

How can a leader help with effectiveness?

  • Invest in your own leadership skill set.  Where the leader goes, so goes the organization.
  • Invest in the development of the team skills.
  • Have the team teach the other members what they have learned.
  • Get the proper technology in place and magnify the skill set of the individual with the proper technology.
  • Involve teams in big picture problems, and solutions.
  • Avoid putting people in charge simply because of titles.  Look for experience with a situation, regardless of title, and let the committee steer itself to solutions based on front line experience.

Ultimately, the leader is responsible for the working environment and culture.  It starts by investing resources for development into themselves as the leader, and concurrently, in the team as future leaders. 

8. Process for the sake of Process

Unnecessary, time-wasting, process focused meetings are a common complaint of teams.  So often, meetings are booked, and calendars are full, and nothing gets done, and problems grow bigger.

This frustrates leaders, staff, and most importantly, clients. 

Meetings need to take place but take a moment and be sure that meetings don’t become unproductive toward actual output.

How might we ensure meetings remain productivity focused rather than process focused?

  • Plan meetings in advance and define the objective of the meeting in one sentence. 
  • Challenge if the meeting is really necessary. If yes, have a clear agenda, identify the expected outcomes, and frame out the time needed for the meeting.
  • Don’t run over the time and stick to the outlined agenda.
  • Come prepared – don’t come to get “caught up”.
  • Single task in the meeting.
  • Be efficient.  Use time management.   Allow the team advance opportunity to be familiar with any relevant information or material prior to the meeting.
  • Keep discussions on track.
  • Summarize next steps.
  • Set next steps and timelines.
  • Clarify understanding of expectations and roles to move forward.
  • Send all parties involved meeting summary and next agenda.
  • Challenge the value of the meeting by asking for input from team and encourage ideas that challenge the process.  Remember you want the process challenges; they are not challenging the person. 
  • Actively be in search of ways to make meetings better and more productive.
  • Know when to stop meeting.
  • Gather feedback on how things could be improved and implement
deflate vs inflate


Leadership can be lonely.  Delegating is not Dumping.  Progress includes what some call failure, I call feedback from the effort. 

The workplace has evolved.  Distributed workforces are common, and leading in today’s workplace can seem daunting.

You are not alone, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, it doesn’t mean you are a failure as a leader….it means you are engaged in your own development process.   You want to improve. 

Be aware that a DISHARMONIOUS WORKPLACE is not unique to only you.  Many leaders have to work on some or all of the factors undermining the HARMONY of the team.

True leadership rests in the ability of the leader to observe, listen, challenge, and adapt.

Take responsibility for where your team arrives because they will arrive. 

Make it EXACTLY where they need to arrive – on purpose.

For mor information on leadership, professional development, or to reserve one of our speakers at your next group event, send us a note, and tell us what’s on our mind. 

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