Introduction

In the realm of organizational dynamics, the success of a team often hinges on its culture, particularly the way individuals relate to one another, the norms they follow, and the values they uphold. Yet, many teams find themselves navigating these waters without a clear compass, leading to confusion, inconsistency, and even some level of conflict and discord within a group. This is the challenge facing numerous organizations, including many clients that On The Edge has worked with in the past.

Overview

The concept of a Team Covenant emerged as a beacon of hope for teams seeking to chart a new course towards more positive and productive team cultures. At its core, a Team Covenant serves as a guiding document that codifies the key values and practices essential to fostering an uplifting and cohesive team environment. 

The Team Covenant outlines the expectations for how leaders and team members will interact and work together in a positive manner on a daily basis, providing a source of truth and accountability within the organization.

The main objective of a Team Covenant is to articulate a shared vision of how a team will operate and the actions individual team members will take. Moreover, grounded in insights gleaned from experiences such as On The Edge’s Social Styles Workshop and Team Challenge Course, the Team Covenant establishes a set of expectations that clarify how team members will collaborate, relate to one another, and contribute to a powerful, positive, productive team culture.

Challenges

In our extensive work with various organizations, we've observed a common pattern: team culture is often left to chance or occurs by default. Without intentional design and clarity around values and practices, teams can drift aimlessly, with individuals receiving mixed messages about expected behaviors. 

This lack of clarity can enable actions and team dynamics that are inconsistent with or don’t model the values and spirit of the team. Overall, lack of alignment and clarity can create team or group dysfunction, hindering an organization's overall success.

The absence of a Team Covenant exacerbates these challenges, leaving employees to navigate the murky waters of team dynamics on their own. Without a shared framework for behavior and accountability, negative patterns can take root, leading to toxic, unproductive work environments and diminished team effectiveness.

Challenges

The issue of unclear expectations can be particularly pronounced during employee onboarding, especially when new hires encounter discrepancies between an organization’s stated values and actual workplace behaviors. This disconnect can leave employees feeling adrift, unsure of how to navigate the complexities of team dynamics without clear guidance.

The consequences of this ambiguity are far-reaching, as conflicting behaviors and norms can sow discord and erode trust within a team. In the absence of a Team Covenant, individuals are left to fend for themselves, resulting in a fragmented team culture and diminished performance.

If the symptoms above are left unchecked for too long, a team can become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional teams often exhibit a strong lack of alignment on shared values and practices, rewarding unproductive behaviors and diminishing opportunities for growth. Dysfunctional dynamics enable toxic behaviors to thrive, undermining a team's cohesion and effectiveness.

Imagine a sports team brimming with talent expected to clinch the championship, yet falling short of their potential due to selfish attitudes and dysfunctional team dynamics. Despite their individual capabilities, these toxic group behaviors, left unchecked, infected the team’s culture, undermining team cohesion and thwarting each team member’s potential contribution. Consequently, this jeopardizes the team’s overall success, resulting in disengagement and underperformance, posing a significant threat to collective success. Even though each member is individually talented, their lack of team cohesion and camaraderie prevents them from winning the championship.

Opportunities

Amidst the challenges of dysfunctional team dynamics lies an opportunity for transformation. Rather than resigning themselves to the status quo, teams can seize the opportunity to enact intentional change through volitional actions and behaviors that are articulated in the Team Covenant.

Creating a Team Covenant offers teams the chance to align around a shared purpose and vision, laying the foundation for a more cohesive and collaborative culture. By identifying key values and practices that embody their ideal team culture, teams can bridge the gap between aspiration and reality, fostering greater alignment and synergy.

To begin with, team members must reflect on their past experiences of being on good and not-so-good teams to identify the dynamics that enabled the dysfunctional, poor performing teams and what dynamics supported the great, high performing teams. Drawing on these insights, they identify the core practices and behaviors that will guide their team culture, setting the stage for meaningful transformation.

Team Covenant

Once core values and practices are identified, teams engage in open dialogue to further refine their Team Covenant. Drawing upon their collective experiences, they pinpoint the fundamental behaviors that will shape their culture, ensuring buy-in and alignment across the team.

With core shared values and practices established, teams embark on the process of drafting their Team Covenant. Focused on distilling these principles into actionable guidelines, the team outlines specific behaviors and norms that will govern their interactions and give clarity to expected behaviors which team members would hold each other accountable for.

Upon finalizing the Team Covenant, teams celebrate this milestone and the collective effort invested in shaping their culture. Each team member commits to upholding the covenant, fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. Additionally, many teams choose to sign their Team Covenant as a further demonstration of their commitment to creating a positive team culture. 

Monthly team check-ins provide valuable feedback and insights, guiding the team's journey towards a more positive and productive future. Further, many teams conduct regular assessments that rate how they and their fellow team members are doing in upholding the Team Covenant through their behavior and interactions, then identify areas that they are all committed to improving.

Conclusion

In the journey to building a high-performing team, the creation of a Team Covenant serves as a catalyst for meaningful change. By articulating shared values and practices, teams can overcome challenges, foster alignment, and unlock their full potential. The power of a Team Covenant lies in its ability to unite individuals around a common purpose and propel teams towards success.

Overview


On The Edge worked with a newly assembled team of regional brokers from Goldman Sachs experiencing common challenges and difficulties in relating to and working with different individuals within the group. 

 

Our staff facilitated a Social Styles workshop to help the team better understand and address the challenges and difficulties they were facing in working cohesively together towards a common mission, goal, and purpose. Further, On The Edge guided this group in integrating the Social Styles methodology into their overall team dynamic and culture, enabling more effective and cohesive collaboration long-term.

 

Context

 

Goldman Sachs executives pulled together a high-level regional broker team to launch and sell a new product in a previously untapped area of investing. This pilot program was highly scrutinized at the company. As a result, the group documented each and every thing they did to help the launch be more successful than any other product launch in the past.

 

Even though the people on this team were some of the highest performers in the entire company, within a week the productivity of this newly assembled group of regional brokers came to a functional standstill. This was largely due to conflicting egos and competing factions within the team.

 

At best the members of this group weren’t working well together. At worst they were self-destructing the very product launch they had been tasked with carrying out. The root of this problem was a clash of personalities and agendas going head to head, causing division over differences in behaviors and leadership styles.

 

Everyone on this team believed they were the smartest person in the room, or the most productive, or the highest performing. To make matters worse, certain personalities formed “factions”, making it much more difficult to collaborate or understand different points of view. In the case of this team, a common refrain was “my way or the highway.”

 

What was this team of regional brokers' biggest challenge? What about their main opportunity?

 

Challenge

 

The key challenge facing this team of corporate sales all-stars was a conflict between different ego-based factions. These factions formed because they shared similar work and leadership styles or ways of working. Consequently, the clash between egos and factions within this team dynamic presented an obstacle to high-performance teamwork and effective collaboration.

 

This internal conflict also distracted people from focusing on the real task at hand, which was successfully launching and selling the new product. Because everyone was fully preoccupied with proving that they were the superior salesperson, they lost sight of the bigger picture as it related to pulling off a successful product launch which was their clearly stated mission and goal.

 

Put another way, they were so busy trying to prove themselves that they got in their own way. As a result, the first two weeks of sales for this new product launch were the worst in the history of the company. Because this team wasn’t working together, it torpedoed the desired objectives and undermined the optimal ways of performing.

 

Opportunity

 

The members of this team had a blind spot around how to best work with and support others who were different from them, which presented an opportunity for growth and breakthrough. Most of them found it quite effortless to collaborate with people who were “just like them”, but were at a complete loss when it came to putting ego aside and attempting to understand someone else’s point of view.

 

It’s not that the team members didn’t want to work together. They were just so caught up in their own ego-centric worlds that they had no idea how to work together.

 

Because the group didn’t know each other well, they didn’t understand the ways other people worked. What the regional broker team from Goldman Sachs needed was a forum to come together and address these differences in a constructive and transformative way. They needed a space to get to know each other better, which would help take down the barriers of working together effectively.

 

In this space they could drop the strong focus they had on being better, being “right”, or being the smartest person on the team. When coming together in this way, they could simply focus on being themselves and seeking to better understand others.

 

What was the process for introducing and facilitating a Social Styles workshop for this team from Goldman Sachs?

 

Outreach

 

On The Edge became aware of the challenges and opportunities that this regional broker team was facing when an Executive VP of Sales at Goldman Sachs reached out to us amidst these struggles. This executive was not only a superstar sales VP, but he was also the one who put this group together in the first place. As the executive of sales to the whole organization, this VP had a lot riding on this pilot project that the whole organization was closely watching and scrutinizing.

 

When the EVP checked in on the team’s progress, he couldn’t believe how poorly this group was performing. People were either fighting each other or in complete silence. In his words, it was a “mad house.” Despite these being some of the highest performers in the company, they were extremely dysfunctional as a team. This EVP would need the help of someone who could come in and shift that dynamic. This is where On The Edge came in.

 

Discovery

 

On The Edge began the work of facilitating a Social Styles workshop for this regional broker team by engaging in a discovery conversation with leaders and key members of the team to gain an understanding of current challenges. Almost immediately, our staff confirmed the negative and dysfunctional group dynamics occurring on the team as explained by the EVP.

 

This helped us understand what specific process, agenda, and facilitation would be most impactful in shifting the dynamic on the team and inspiring cohesiveness and synergy by building more trusting, deeper relationships through the Social Styles framework.

 

Design

 

Following discovery, On The Edge designed a program to accomplish the objectives laid out in collaboration with leaders and key members to address the relational challenges and opportunities present.

 

This program design took into account any information gathered from qualitative interviews as well as any quantitative data from anonymous surveys to ensure a clear understanding before the workshop was underway.

 

Upon completion of the discovery and design phases, the next step was to bring the team together off-site and in person to participate in the Social Styles workshop led by On The Edge.

 

Delivery: Introducing the Social Styles

 

This regional broker team from Goldman Sachs was brought together in a remote, off-site conference center for a one-day, high-intensity Social Styles workshop. Meeting at this location was strategic because it would allow the group to get away from all of the distractions of day-to-day business so they could really focus on creating the breakthroughs and transformations that would be needed to refocus and align the team.

 

To initiate the Social Styles workshop, our facilitators introduced the Social Styles methodology and the descriptions of the four core styles, as well as some key team and leadership models. Upon introduction to this methodology and these models, team members immediately began to see how the challenges they were experiencing were driven by differences in Social Styles rather than by conflicting personality traits or simply “not wanting to work together”.

 

Creating this distinction also made clear that there were “factions'' of certain styles within the team. Through this new framework, team members could now see how during the initial formation of the team many people had unconsciously ordered up with others who were similar styles to them.

 

For example, when the group gathered in the conference room, the first thing we noticed was a group of 10 “Type-A” personalities who were really aggressive and wanted to “get on with it” (Drivers). Alternatively, we noticed another group that focused on everything being perfect before they did anything (Analytical).


Delivery: Workshop Facilitation

 

Even though this was a tense situation, our playful but impactful facilitation of the Social Styles methodology was disarming and allowed people to see in a new light how blatant some of the differences can be between styles. This dissolved a lot of the defensiveness and blame that was prevalent in the group.

 

In response, many people laughed and lightened when given real-life examples of how certain styles can show up. This created a more open condition and environment to approach the challenges that they were facing. As a result, this workshop put people in a much better place to deal with these challenges productively.

 

In this newfound condition and willingness to learn and grow as a team, as well as being familiar with the Social Styles methodology and how it influenced their group dynamics, each member of the team was given an assessment to identify their own unique style combination.

 

Social Styles Assessment

 

The 15-minute Social Styles assessment guided individual team members through a series of behavioral questions that resulted in discovery of their primary social style and a secondary social style combination.

 

With their primary and secondary social style combinations now in hand, members of the team were able to confirm at last that the factions within the team were indeed aligned by primary social style. These factions not only influenced how they people showed up in day-to-day work, but were a key challenge preventing effective and collaborative teamwork across styles.

 

Because the team lacked awareness of these gaps or “blind spots” between different styles and the inherent types of conflicting behaviors they presented, everyone on the team started to realize they had been fighting an uphill battle all along. Much of the early dysfunction on this team could be explained by a lack of awareness regarding the negative dynamics that were created as a result of the unconscious division between the different Social Styles.

 

Consequently, this division between factions and styles had been the key obstacle to effectively launching and selling the new product, which was this team’s primary goal.

 

To cement these distinctions and imbed the benefits of integrating this methodology, our staff led this team through a series of real-life business simulations to put these ideas into practice.

 

Putting the Social Styles into Practice

 

Once everyone in the workshop better understood the needs, values, and ways of being that influenced their working together effectively, On The Edge guided them through a series of challenging problem solving activities.

 

These activities illuminated key aspects of the Social Styles as they related to this specific team's challenges and opportunities. In this case, the simulations drew from real-life obstacles presented by the new product launch the team had been tasked with carrying out.

 

These problem solving activities clearly demonstrated that when the team focused maximizing the talents and abilities (strengths) in everybody, they were much more successful. Conversely, these activities showed that when the team chose to focus on differences and weaknesses (liabilities), things quickly fell apart.

 

Key Takeaways from the Social Styles Workshop

 

Talents and abilities diminish when a team focuses all of their energy in the wrong direction. Because the team had been struggling with negative team dynamics, these simulated activities were all the more illuminating, impactful, and poignant.

 

Note: One of the key areas of expertise that On The Edge brings to any of our programs is how to take a team with great talents, abilities, and strengths, and help them create a culture where they focus on bringing out each other’s best. This is contrasted with a culture in which fighting each other and focusing on who is right and who is wrong is the norm. See: What’s the difference between a Team of Champions vs. a Championship Team?

 

In seeing the negative impacts that focusing on liabilities and weaknesses can have, the team realized that they would never be successful in working together if they went on like this. This lack of teamwork would not only reflect poorly on them, but would sabotage the new product launch.

 

What the team needed was to come together around a common goal. In other words, a shared vision of team and leadership success. This would be an endeavor the team would be successful in because they would be embarking on it together with a newfound appreciation, understanding, and utilization of the unique talents and abilities of each style.

 

What was the outcome of the Social Styles workshop?

 

The primary outcome of this Social Styles workshop was that members of the regional broker team discovered that they had more in common than previously thought. Because they had lacked the awareness and understanding to address differences in Social Styles, factions and ego-based dynamics had taken precedence. Now, they could see that each member of the group had their own ways of contributing to the success of the team. This enabled the team to maximize the unique strengths of every team member.

 

Another outcome was a shift away from stress-induced negative behaviors in favor of healthy group dynamics that were much more supportive and enabled everyone to be their best. In doing so they created a more positive and collaborative culture where uplifting energy inspired everyone to come together to accomplish the task at hand. In essence, they transformed from a culture in conflict to one where everybody was working cohesively and harmoniously together.

 

How did On The Edge ensure lasting success with this team of regional brokers from Goldman Sachs?

 

Given the impacts outlined above, Goldman Sachs wanted to continue the momentum created during this workshop. For this reason, they requested On The Edge to provide follow-up processes as well as ongoing coaching and support. This follow-up, coaching, and support would further develop the team in general and continue to build everyone’s efficacy with the specific team and leadership skills highlighted in the program. The intent of of doing this was to fully integrate the Social Styles methodology on a long-term, ongoing basis.

 

As a signal of the impact the Social Styles methodology had on this team and on the greater organization, Goldman Sachs adopted the Social Styles on a wider scale to improve team and leadership dynamics as well as their organizational culture.

 

On The Edge created and designed a rollout that would ensure that all teams in the division would learn and benefit from the positive impacts of the Social Styles methodology to support this organizational initiative.

 

Epilogue

 

Overview

On The Edge has worked with over 350,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and countries in the last 35 years. 

In our decades of experience, we’ve discovered that both leaders and employees alike often find it difficult to articulate exactly why certain traits and behaviors work well together. Conversely, they are at a loss as to why other traits and behaviors cause significant dysfunction on their team. 

To address this common issue, On The Edge introduces the Social Styles methodology to most of our team and leadership clients. This framework increases understanding between people and enables productive communication.

The Social Styles methodology establishes a baseline understanding of how different people on a team relate to each other and work together. This methodology informs a newfound awareness and appreciation for different work and leadership styles, strengthening relationships and unifying groups of all sizes and statuses. Consequently, teams that learn and integrate the Social Styles begin working much more effectively and cohesively in no time at all.

The Four Social Styles

On The Edge has identified four core work and leadership styles that outline common ways of showing up in the workplace and life in general. The Social Styles provide distinction and clarity with leaders and teams. However, they work just as well for anyone who is looking to become more connected to the people around them.

To help aid in understanding the basics of the four Social Styles, here are some overview descriptions of each:

Analytical

Often perceived as deliberate, constrained, and logical, the Analytical is a listener who follows procedures. They carefully weigh all alternatives and remain steadfast in purpose. The Analytical style comes off as disciplined, independent, and unaggressive.

Driver

Often perceived as business-like, results-oriented, and taking initiative, the Driver is straightforward, quick to act, and decisive. They like to challenge new ideas and respond quickly. The Driver seldom hesitates to correct, to amend, to modify, or to confront others.

Expressive

Often perceived as aggressive, inspiring, and emotional. The Expressive feels comfortable taking the social initiative and engaging in friendly conversation before moving on to the task at hand. The Expressive is easily excitable and ready to share insights and dreams.

Amiable

Often perceived as quiet, unassuming, and supportive, the Amiable is a warm, friendly listener who is easy to get along with. They appreciate taking time to build relationships and seek support and feedback from others before they make decisions. The Amiable enjoys personal contact and shared responsibility.

The vast majority of people are a combination of two of the above styles — one primary style and one secondary style. In our experience, most people think and act through the lens of their primary style. However, many people do find themselves toggling back and forth between these two styles fairly often in day-to-day life. Exactly how these primary and secondary styles show up in different situations is what makes us each unique, and therein lies the benefit of examining the Social Styles in more depth. 

Benefits of Learning the Social Styles

The key benefit of integrating the Social Styles methodology is that it equips teams and leaders with the knowledge, tools, and skills to work extraordinarily well with all Social Styles (read: all people), even ones that are significantly different. This methodology demonstrates that it is possible to collaborate effectively with anybody if there is an understanding and appreciation of the different styles. 

Studying and integrating the Social Styles methodology within one’s team or organization can also be transformational in understanding and improving social dynamics. Without some framework to understand relational dynamics, most people assume that others are inexplicably different, challenging to work with, and fundamentally hard to connect with or relate to. Oftentimes people want to work well with others, but they have no idea how to do so.

Once everyone understands the four different styles and identifies them on their team, blending the strengths, talents, and abilities of the different styles becomes much easier and much more productive. As such, one of the added benefits of working with the Social Styles is that it creates space for more positive and empathetic communication between different people on a team.

Differences in Social Styles

The reality is that a unique distribution of the Social Styles makes up most teams. To begin understanding the importance of these styles to team dynamics is to accept this reality. What’s more, the four Social Styles appear to be significantly different on face value. Although the styles are notably different in a few key ways, the reality is that everyone embodies some characteristics of each style. However, the primary style and secondary style signal one’s dominant or default way of showing up in their personal and professional life.

Examples

In one instance, a team member with a dominant and overbearing style (Driver) can very quickly alienate a member of the team that is more introverted or less assertive (Amiable). Even though the Driver’s default style is only trying to move quickly to achieve immediate results, it is unconsciously stirring up the less confrontational styles on the team. As a result, the momentum of the team overall is actually slowed down

In another instance, one team member is pitching a new project idea but doesn’t have a concrete plan or the data to support it (Expressive). Consequently, this person frustrates another member of their team that likes to have things planned out and a clear picture of the issue before proceeding with a project (Analytical). This erodes trust on both sides and ultimately leads to division between these team members. 

As you see above, unconscious differences in everyday behavior can cause challenges and dysfunction within a team dynamic. Therefore, gaining awareness of the different Social Styles in a group and appreciating the unique ways people approach and solve problems serves to unify people with diverse styles. From the vantage point of mutual understanding, teams can combine their strengths to come up with the best solution and create a path forward, together.

The Importance of Awareness

It is important to raise awareness of the inherent conflicts that can occur between styles due to significant differences in how each style operates and sees the world. Unaddressed differences will become subtle fissures in team and leadership relationships. These fissures will cause short to long term damage in any organization if not addressed properly.

What’s more, clashes between styles can harm group cohesiveness and productivity without people ever realizing why or how these unconscious conflicts arose. In lack of an explanation, people often resort to behaviors like finger-pointing and summing it up to “differences in personality.” 

This can lead people to two lines of thinking: 1) “Am I the only sane person around here?”, or even more damaging, 2) “I’m right. They’re wrong.” These perspectives challenge many teams, leaders, and organizations. Luckily, they can best be addressed by learning and integrating the Social Styles.

When a team learns and integrates the Social Styles methodology, what challenges, opportunities, and impacts are addressed?

Challenges

The most common challenge we have observed when working with leaders and teams is an unconscious conflict between work and leadership styles in a team environment. This all-too-common conflict presents an obstacle to high-performing teamwork and effective collaboration because it distracts people from keeping focused on the real task at hand. 

Oftentimes team members have a blind spot around how to work and communicate with people who are different from them on the team because working with opposing styles is difficult. This makes sense. Most people find it quite effortless to work with people who are just like them. However, it is far more likely that someone will be part of a team that is made up of people who are fairly (or significantly) different from them. 

What’s more, many people find it difficult to work with others when they don’t understand another person's approach to a situation. When someone is really different from us (or simply sees things differently than we do), we rarely say to ourselves “that’s a very different and interesting perspective/POV”. Often we say “I’m right and they’re wrong” or “my way of seeing things is the only right way.” This perspective can be the beginning of adversarial behavior and challenging in a team dynamic.

In reality, everyone can think of someone they work with that is not only very different from them, but they sometimes wonder if the other person is from another planet altogether. The challenge is how to bridge the divide and help foster the unique talents and strengths possessed by everyone on a team, making everyone feel included and appreciated.

Opportunities

The Social Styles present an opportunity to tap into the best of everyone on a team. To do this, it is critical to first work towards understanding the different social styles and how to work most effectively with them. In finding the middle or common ground between the different styles and mutual interests, there can be a breakthrough in effective communication and a transformation in cohesive collaboration.

One of the key aspects of the Social Styles methodology is that every style has a set of distinct strengths and liabilities. In building awareness of the strengths and liabilities of each style, the opportunity becomes how to best maximize the positive impacts of each team member’s strengths while minimizing the potential negative impacts of each team member’s liabilities. 

In our experience, high-performing teams focus on how to bring out and combine the unique strengths, talents, and abilities on the team. When the focus is on maximizing strengths, the overall team dynamic encourages each team member to show up as their best self by fully utilizing their untapped talents. This enhances productivity and harmony and unlocks the potential in everyone on the team. 

By contrast, low-performing teams tend to focus on everyone’s liabilities and weaknesses, setting the stage for an overall sense of “what’s wrong with me?” or “what’s wrong with you?”. These lines of questioning quickly lead to people becoming defensive and disengaged. The Social Styles methodology can impact a team by upending this dysfunctional approach and creating a culture where liabilities are part of the conversation, rather than being hidden or covered up.

Impacts

One of the most amazing things that happens in just four to eight hours of exposure to the Social Styles methodology is that people go from a state of frustration or misunderstanding to a state of appreciation and awareness.

This is because learning to combine all the strengths and talents on a team is a much more successful (and sustainable) strategy than continuing to point fingers at all of the liabilities or weaknesses of other styles and personalities. 

Before engaging in this work, we’ve partnered with some teams who would race to the bottom when it came to punching the lowest, throwing the most people under the bus, or playing the blame game when it came to making clear who has the worst liabilities or weaknesses. After engaging in this work, these same teams transformed their cultures to be ones where all team members took accountability for their actions, leading to elevated performance, increased retention, and higher employee satisfaction.

We see it clearly now: if you focus on liabilities, you will get more and more liabilities. If you focus on strengths, you will get more and more strengths. This is the key takeaway and impact that the Social Styles can have on creating a more positive team dynamic and culture. In a culture where strengths are maximized, the team is able to accomplish much more than each team member would be able to alone.

A Note on Synergy

Imagine for a moment an experience where you are on a team of people with very different backgrounds, abilities, motivations, and agendas. Because your team spent time learning the Social Styles methodology and integrating it into their culture, the group performs incredibly well together even though you are all seemingly different on the surface. In this way, it would seem that a certain type of “synergy” has come over the team. That is, everybody on the team is operating and contributing at a much higher level of performance than they ever would as an individual. 

This vision of synergy is what we aim to recreate when introducing the Social Styles methodology to teams and leaders in a structured process for learning and integrating these styles.

What is the process for learning and integrating the Social Styles?

Discovery

On The Edge begins the process of facilitating a Social Styles workshop by engaging in a discovery conversation with leaders and key members of a team to gain an understanding of current opportunities and challenges within the team. Particularly, our staff aims to identify if there are any negative or dysfunctional group dynamics occurring on the team. This helps us understand what specific facilitation will be beneficial in elevating the team to the next level of cohesiveness and synergy by building more trusting, deeper relationships through the Social Styles framework.

Design

Following discovery, On The Edge designs a program to accomplish the unique objectives laid out in collaboration with the leaders and key members of the team while addressing the relational challenges and opportunities present. This program design takes into account any information gathered from qualitative interviews as well as any quantitative data from anonymous surveys.

Upon completion of the discovery and design phases, the next step is to bring the team together in person to participate in the Social Styles workshop.

Delivery: Intro to Social Styles

To initiate the Social Styles workshop, our facilitators introduce the methodology and the descriptions of the four core styles. Upon introduction to these style descriptions, participants begin to quickly realize how many of the challenges they are experiencing are driven by differences in Social Styles rather than by personality issues or simply “not wanting to work together”. Alternatively, when things do go well, it is because there is some level of understanding or appreciating the differences in the Social Styles.

Social Styles Assessment

Once participants are familiar with the Social Styles methodology and how it influences team dynamics, they are then given an assessment to identify their own unique style combination. This succinct assessment guides the participant through a series of behavioral questions that are grounded in key themes from the Social Styles framework. Depending on the sum of the final tally of answers that participants choose per style, they are assigned a primary social style and a secondary social style.  

One of the unique aspects of the Social Styles program is how quick and simple it is for people to discover their unique social styles combination. This assessment takes only 15 minutes to complete and is completed during the course of the workshop, providing immediate results to be worked with throughout the rest of the course. 

Almost everyone who has taken this assessment commented on how straightforward, easy and fun it was to discover their style using On The Edge’s Social Style assessment. Even though the process for discovering one’s styles is simple, the impacts can be profound.

Learning About Our Social Styles

With an overview of the Social Styles and their assigned social style combination in hand, participants begin to deep-dive into learning more about their specific primary and secondary styles. 

The first step in relating better with other people is first recognizing one’s own needs, values, and ways of doing things (i.e. what works for them and what doesn’t). Without understanding themselves and how they like to be related to or treated, it’s hard for members of the team to understand other people that are different from them with different styles. 

Getting clear about this distinction is foundational to the Social Styles work. When each individual understands their own needs, they are more clear and comfortable in standing up for themselves and letting people know when their behaviors are conflicting with that person’s needs and values. The challenge then becomes how to best work with other diverse styles who have their own set of needs, values, and ways of doing things.

Learning About Others' Social Styles

Learning about the other styles is an equally important step in this process. As the team starts to learn in more detail about other styles, the lightbulb goes off. “Wow, this is why so many of my relationships in my personal and professional life are the way they are!” In doing this work, members of the team realize that there are big differences and that most people - without awareness of these styles - don’t have a way to understand each other. Once individuals learn about the needs, preferences, and boundaries of other styles, they come to realize that they will work much better together when they bring the strengths out in everybody as opposed to focusing on the differences and liabilities of each style. 

Because of how distinctly different each of the styles are, it becomes quickly understood that they will have to work hard to understand each other and bring out each others’ best. Put another way, the team will need to actively seek common ground and meet in the middle of the different style’s perspectives or points of view. From this point we look to put these ideas into practice, answering the question: “How do we relate with and work with all types of people on our team that brings out the best in each of them?”

Putting the Social Styles into Practice

Once everyone in the program better understands the needs, values, and ways of being that influence working together effectively, On The Edge then guides them through a series of challenging problem solving activities designed to specifically illuminate key aspects of the Social Styles. 

These problem solving activities demonstrate that when the team brings out the best (strengths) in everybody, they are much more successful. Conversely, they make clear that when the team focuses on differences and liabilities, things quickly fall apart. 

Because these simulated activities are designed to emulate the challenges of real-life scenarios, some team members end up falling into their usual stress or backup behaviors that are triggered by these situations. While harmful, these backup and stress behaviors are effective in driving home many lessons of the Social Styles methodology.

Back-up and Stress Behaviors

When everything is going well and the team is successful, it’s easy to be a happy, high-functioning team. In this successful state, many people find they are able to work quite effortlessly together no matter the styles. One of the biggest challenges, however, is how teams behave when things begin going poorly and they are put under intense stress from pressures that are often outside of their control.

Take, for example, a sports team that is losing a game by a wide margin. In this situation, it is not uncommon to see people on the sidelines snapping at each other or playing a different game altogether: the blame game. In general, they are showing up as their worst selves. When you see these back-up and stress behaviors present, you can all but guarantee that that team will lose because they are caught up in unproductive and unworkable behaviors.

In our experience, the distinction between a mediocre team and a really great team is how they deal with unexpected challenges, setbacks, and conflicts.  We all experience stress. When we’re stressed, we’re never anywhere near the best version of ourselves. Instead, when our backs are against the wall, that’s usually when we’ll exhibit the most damaging and dysfunctional behaviors. Understanding and overcoming these backup behaviors is a huge opportunity in working with the Social Styles.

The Social Styles methodology and putting it into practice helps to raise awareness of the stress and backup behaviors that can easily take a team down or make them a shell of what they could be. The reality is that each style has very specific ways they react to stress and conflict. Engaging in challenging hands-on activities is a way to actively identify and address the backup and stress behaviors of the styles as they occur.

Debrief

After experiencing these simulations of real-life business challenges, the team is led through a debrief by our facilitators. From here, the group is able to clearly see how they need to work together and what ways they need to enable each other to be more successful and productive. During this debrief of the workshop, the team also clearly identifies the areas that they aren’t working well together and are bringing out the worst in each other.

Together, both these positive and constructive reflections from the team serve as a foundation for creating a path forward. This path forward often takes shape in the form of a co-created team covenant, re-focusing the team on a shared mission and vision for future success.

What is the outcome of teams engaging in the work and social styles program?

Creating a Team Covenant

The experience that participants have of the power in working together during the Social Styles workshop - as well as the damage done by some of the dysfunctional stress or backup behaviors - informs the co-creation of team covenant. 

The team covenant articulates how the team will work together moving forward. Oftentimes these covenants envision more positive ways of working based on a newfound understanding of the Social Styles. Further, the covenant also addresses how the team will avoid or mitigate the dysfunctional and bad behaviors that hindered their success and hurt their culture in the first place.

Impact of the Team Covenant

The real impact of co-creating this powerful team covenant is that when the team returns to their everyday working environment, there is a significant change to norms of communication, collaboration, and overall cohesion. This results in a whole different sense in the office and the greater organizational culture. The team starts to bring out the best in everyone around them, even the people that weren’t there for the On The Edge workshop. In this way, the team covenant can have a ripple effect, positively impacting and uplifting all people at an organization.

One way of thinking about this is that teams and leaders who engage in the Social Styles workshop learn to maximize everyone's strengths, finding a way to use all of the talents on the team. Prior to this experience, most people will hold back their talents and abilities, doing the bare minimum just to get by and not create any more conflict. 

We have found that people hold back because they don’t feel encouraged or safe addressing or trying to change the previously negative team dynamics. Now, with everybody on the same page and having a path to positively contribute to the team, all team members are emboldened to show up as their full self.

Bottom-line Business Impacts of the Social Styles

As you can imagine, the bottom-line business impacts, as well as the retention of employees in the organization, dramatically increase upon completion of the Social Styles workshop. Even though the team's talent and abilities were the same before and after the workshop, the difference is that before many of those strengths were unnoticed, not being fully tapped or utilized. Consequently, people weren’t “going for it” because they didn’t want to get caught in the middle of the dysfunction. 

What’s consistently amazing to us is that people who complete this program realize that the underlying talents and abilities of their team members were always there but not expressed. In creating an environment where the team can come together and bring out the best in everyone, teams experience a whole different level of performance as individuals and as a collective. 

There is a new level of synergy that is created when teams engage in the Social Styles work. This synergy can unlock powerful transformations and breakthroughs for any team or leader by enabling individuals to discover and appreciate the magnificence and greatness of the people on their team.

How does On The Edge ensure lasting success with teams and leaders after the Social Styles workshop has concluded?

Because of the major difference felt after the Social Styles workshop, teams and leaders will often ask On The Edge if we can provide follow-up processes to engage in ongoing coaching and implementation around this methodology. This follow-up work allows teams and leaders to keep progressing down the new road they have set out on together.

On The Edge provides several follow-up processes and structures along with ongoing practical consulting and coaching. This supports the team in integrating and applying the key learnings from the Social Styles workshop.

Using the Team Covenant

Based on the expectations laid out in the team covenant, this document is utilized to review the overall team and individual team member performance of actions and behaviors on a regular basis to discover opportunities for further integration and alignment around the key Social Styles learnings. 

The team covenant creates accountability in moving towards a more positive and engaging culture. A culture in which all team members are treated well by identifying values and actions that would actively contribute to this new high-performing work environment. Further, the covenant is foundational to another follow-up process: the follow-up assessment.

Follow-up Assessment

The second process is a follow-up assessment. This assessment gathers written feedback about the impact of the Social Styles workshop. To capture this, the assessment acknowledges the growth and success that had come out of the course. Effective follow-up and coaching is essential to assure that the team and its leaders continue to grow and improve in the right direction long after the workshop has concluded.

Advanced Course

The teams that are the most successful at implementing the Social Styles long term are the ones who have repeated exposure to this methodology supported by ongoing practice and coaching. On The Edge offers an Advanced Social Styles Course to individuals and leaders looking to learn more in-depth applications of this methodology. Additionally, the Advanced Course provides a forum to continue practicing these styles in a supportive, challenging environment. Consequently, the Advanced Course fully integrates this methodology into participants' personal and professional relationships.

We’ve found that the organizations that see the greatest impact of this methodology long-term are the ones who actively work to integrate the Social Styles in the fabric of their team, leadership, and organizational culture. These principles, if applied and practiced, make a critical long-term difference in how teams relate and collaborate.

Overview


On The Edge worked with a leadership team from Boeing to activate the group’s leadership skills in the midst of significant business challenges. Particularly, our work focused on more effective communication and how to engage everybody on the team despite differing agendas and diverse leadership styles. 


Ineffective communication and competing motives were preventing this team from working towards a common mission and goal. As a result, overall productivity of the division suffered, which enabled ongoing dysfunction in how members of the team related.


This leadership team needed to think outside the box and identify new ways of effectively working together in a rapidly changing business context.
On The Edge provided a forum for authentic discussion relating to the obstacles faced by these leaders. This forum unlocked for the team how best to move forward given the current business challenges and realities. Put another way: setting aside differences to focus on one common mission and goal.


What was the team’s Leadership Development challenge?

 

Context


This group of leaders was faced with the challenge of elevating leadership skills in the midst of unexpected business challenges. While some members of the team were looking to think outside of the box to find solutions to these dramatic business changes, other leaders and team members preferred to maintain the status quo.


However, maintaining the status quo in this case wouldn’t be a sufficient response to the critical issues at hand. Despite the urgency of needing to come up with and implement solutions, disagreements about the best path forward led to internal friction and lack of alignment. This distracted the team from focusing on the most pressing challenges facing the organization.

 

Challenge


Ultimately, the lack of alignment within the leadership team was holding the whole division back from addressing key issues in a timely and effective manner. The team realized that they needed to up their overall leadership skills to rise up to the challenges they faced. Particularly, the leadership team needed development in the following areas: leading and supporting team members in new business contexts, building trust by leading vs. managing, and enabling problem solving and effective decision making.


In essence, the team was looking to build a better culture. One where all team members would be encouraged to step forward with their best ideas. Contrast this with the existing culture, which centered around a handful of “task masters” getting everything done but not including others on the team. This approach did make sales and get planes out the door (and in the skies). However, it left many team members feeling like their voice wasn’t being heard. This resulted in many within the team showing up as uninspired and disengaged, diminishing their overall productivity.

 

Our Involvement


At this time, the leadership team considered themselves to be a healthy and high-functioning unit when...but only when everything was stable and running as expected. Whenever issues or challenges would arise, this facade would quickly crumble, giving way to finger pointing and lack of accountability. 


Boeing brought in On The Edge to provide a forum and structured Leadership Program to resolve the unproductive group dynamics within this team.


What was the process to address this challenge?

 

Discovery


On The Edge began our work with this leadership team by conducting anonymous discovery interviews and surveys to better understand the unique leadership challenges the team was facing. These interviews and surveys helped us gain a more comprehensive view and appreciation of the different team members’ perspectives and mindsets. 


Because there was existing tension on this team, our staff took an empathetic approach to better understand the group dynamics that were causing some of the conflicts and dysfunctions within the current team structure and day-to-day operations.

 

Design


Our discovery interviews and surveys illuminated that what this team needed most was a forum to connect its leaders to the rest of the team. Therefore, On The Edge custom-designed a program that would have maximum impact in two key areas. 


The first focus would be resolving some of the existing differences and conflicts between different team members. The second focus would be introducing leadership and team models to demonstrate the personal and bottom-line benefits of a supportive team culture and appreciating the diverse leadership and work styles on the team.


This Leadership Development program, at its core, focused on building a more cohesive leadership team. Getting the team back on the same page and focusing on the team’s common mission and goal would be the biggest challenge, but would also serve as the biggest opportunity to co-develop a strategy that would successfully address the current challenges and the new business realities.

 

Delivery


First, On The Edge introduced common leadership models with a focus on how leaders deal with significant change and get themselves and their team to think outside of the box. In this case, we made a distinction between leading vs. managing. 


While managing can be rigid and hierarchical, leading elevates managing to another level with engaged problem solving that creates buy-in from employees up and down the org chart. Put another way, good leaders look to collaborate while managers can often assume an adversarial position.

 

Leadership Styles


Our staff supported the discussion of leadership models by facilitating an activity that helped all team members understand their unique leadership styles. Through this framework, the team began to see the value of functional collaboration and working to utilize all of the diverse members on the leadership team.


This discussion opened the door for the group to see all the different leadership styles on their team and how bringing out the best in each of these styles could help facilitate cohesive teamwork. It answered questions like “Which styles don’t do well in a crisis?” and “Which styles don’t perform well when the old ways of doing business are thrown out?”. 


Looking at these questions through the lens of leadership allowed the leadership team to step into a growth mindset and think holistically regarding their current business challenges and opportunities.

 

Concepts in Practice


Once the team had a better understanding of how different leadership styles show up in the workplace, On The Edge led the group through several relevant activities simulating real business challenges the team was facing to build trust and understanding. These group activities and simulations were designed to be intentionally adversarial and allowed team members to confront the polarizing behaviors and leadership styles that had hurt or hindered them in relationship to the overall team culture and dynamic. 


When guided by On The Edge through the debrief of this Leadership Development program, each team member fully understood the importance of working in a different manner than they had been before. This shared experience impacted the team and changed their behaviors to elevate to a whole new way of working together, bringing the team into a new paradigm of leadership success.


What was the outcome of this process?

 

Leadership Transformation


The team now possessed an improved awareness and understanding of how current business challenges were affecting everyone on the team based on their unique leadership styles. They rallied around this newfound team cohesion and put differences aside to focus on a common mission and the task at hand. In this case, that task was dealing effectively with changing business realities and finding a way to best lead in a new industry paradigm. 


Now that the team had resolved long-standing tensions and found common ground, they were able to ideate new solutions and think outside of the box by stepping into uncharted territory as a team. 


When the leadership culture became more positive, collaboration became more cohesive. Consequently, the team began working much more effectively and productively with each other, leading to a total transformation within this division.

 

Changing the Game


The team worked together powerfully to get the company out of the challenge that it was experiencing. After completing the Leadership Development program, all members of the team became increasingly aligned, resulting in a collaborative and adaptable team workflow. 


Together, the leadership team was now able to answer questions like: “What is our shared leadership vision?” and “What do we need to do to lead our company through a really challenging time?”. The answers to these questions coalesced into common solutions that everybody aligned behind.


The team that was once polarized came together with the help of On The Edge. Challenges were now addressed with consensus and quickly solved. Put one way, the leadership team had completely changed the game in their team efficacy and collaboration skills. 


How did On The Edge ensure lasting success with this leadership team?


Despite the great work done as a result of the Leadership Development program, this team knew that their current leadership skills would not be conducive to sustaining this change long term. The leadership team realized that they didn’t possess a lot of the skills necessary to develop
other people into this new way of thinking and working. 


Consequently, they would need a much stronger focus on practicing their newfound people development skills and ongoing coaching on how to best work with different leadership styles.

 

Implementation Plan


To support their ongoing growth and leadership development, On The Edge helped each leader establish an implementation plan that focused on developing and practicing newfound leadership skills. This implementation plan sought to build a more collaborative and trusting organizational culture while improving communication skills and employee engagement. 


The group was now equipped with the resources to continue building a collaborative and trusting team. With an awareness of how diverse leadership styles can affect team cohesion and performance, the leadership team then was led through a process of creating a communication to the rest of the organization.

 

Communicating New Ways of Leading


This communication articulated the new ways of relating and leading in a much more productive and positive manner. This communication created clear expectations of the behaviors and actions for the rest of the organization.


As a result of this co-created communication and the leaders being more cognizant of ensuring their leadership behaviors had a positive impact, the entire organization became much more engaged and motivated to carry out organizational strategies in response to any and all business challenges ahead.


Outro


It’s a tale as old as time: a company goes along, successful for years, then suddenly something drastically changes in their industry or in their business. This leadership team was suddenly faced with an urgent need to pivot their leadership to address business challenges the company was facing. What this team needed most was to get trust and collaboration back and to let go of the way things had “always been done”.


In the end, they came up with a strategy and a completely new way of working together, which had a significant positive impact on the team dynamic and the overall company.


On The Edge not only provided a forum for this team to resolve interpersonal issues to move past the present dysfunctional team dynamic, but also provided the guidance and ongoing coaching for the team to begin working collaboratively towards a shared team mission and goal — the REAL business challenge at hand.

Overview


On The Edge worked with a leadership team from University of New Mexico (UNM) Health to seamlessly integrate several new positions onto the team and accelerate the deepening of relationships between the existing team members. On The Edge’s Team Development program created a forum for the group to learn how to work more effectively with
all of the diverse personalities on the team.


The leadership team benefited from this program in large part because they had not previously built strong connections. In reality, the root of this disconnect stemmed from a lack of quality time spent together and divisions between isolated business unit functions and locations. All in all, the work that On The Edge did with this team helped them come together quickly so that they could more powerfully and collaboratively navigate the significant changes and challenges affecting their industry.


What was UNM Health Medical Group’s Team Development opportunity?


Context


In 2019, UNM Health placed several new leaders onto a leadership team. These new leaders were joining an existing team in need of foundational relationship building. This need arose from a general lack of awareness and understanding of the diverse personalities on the team, as well as a siloed organizational structure. Additionally, UNM Health had recently put in place a new strategy and focus that this team would need to adapt quickly to and operate effectively within.


Opportunity


UNM Health saw the opportunity to accelerate relationship building and continue developing a strong, supportive, and high-performing team and organizational culture in the midst of this leadership transition and significant changes to their business.


Our Involvement


UNM Health brought in On The Edge to facilitate a Team Development program focused on aligning this newly assembled leadership team as part of the organization's annual leadership retreat. The objectives of this Team Development program were to get the team to: 1) work more effectively together, 2) build leadership and team skills, and 3) utilize collaboration to increase team cohesiveness and camaraderie.


What was the process to address this opportunity?

 

Discovery


On The Edge began the process of working with the leadership team from UNM Health by conducting one-on-one discovery interviews with key stakeholders to identify potential opportunities and challenges within this leadership team and the overall organization. Additionally, our staff sent confidential surveys to all members of the team to create a clear snapshot of the current organizational culture and constraints. This discovery process provided both a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current team status and highlighted which group dynamics were working and which ones were not.


Design


Following discovery, On The Edge developed a custom-designed 1-day Team Development program that would accomplish the team's objectives and support the leadership team in strengthening relationships, deepening trust, and building a more productive team culture*. At this point, it was time to "get on the court" and bring the team together for a 1-day in-person Team Development program.

 

Delivery


On The Edge initiated the 1-day Team Development program by presenting models of high performing teams and leadership. To begin, our presentation illuminated what optimal teamwork looks like and allowed the leadership team to identify which models the team would most like to adopt and implement moving forward. From this point, facilitators focused on addressing some of the key issues and challenges that were preventing the team from achieving the ideal outcomes shared in the high performing team and leadership models.


With a newfound and broadened understanding of high performing team and leadership models, we introduced methodologies that helped the group understand how to work more effectively with different work and leadership styles. These methodologies illuminated the underlying strengths and liabilities contained within the leadership team, and when experienced in a group setting served to unify and enable a more supportive and high-performing team dynamic.

 

Concepts in Practice


To practice and gain efficacy in these models and methodologies, On The Edge guided the group through hands-on activities that familiarized team members at a deeper level to gain awareness of how different leadership styles, personalities, and ways of working together can positively impact overall team cohesiveness and effectiveness. Since these activities were designed to simulate relevant business challenges the leadership team was facing in their organization, participants learned and practiced new concepts and skills that they wouldn’t otherwise have time for in the constant stream of day-to-day responsibilities.


The added benefit of these engaging, experiential activities is that they illuminated team members in a different light and showcased their unseen strengths, which established relationships and trust based on shared experiences and understanding. Moreover, this program put hierarchy and position on the org chart aside, which allowed everyone to contribute equally so some members of the leadership team could step up while higher level leaders let go of control and stepped back. This, in turn, helped the group identify and utilize the talent and contributions on their team at all levels.


What was the outcome of this process?


Team Transformation


As a result of working with On The Edge, this leadership team from UNM Health underwent a significant transformation in leadership effectiveness, team skills, and workplace collaboration in high-stakes business situations. The group not only learned about team and leadership styles, but unlocked breakthroughs in how these styles could translate to greater transformation in their teamwork, collaboration, and productivity through guided and relevant action-oriented activities.


This leadership team now had the tools to tap into everybody’s full capabilities. This lead to increased focus and efficacy when working with the diverse talents, strengths, and abilities on the team. As a result, the team and the overall organization became more productive and performed at a higher level through the creation of a culture that brought out the best in everybody. After the program many team members reported they felt like the leadership team’s focus had shifted. In essence, they felt more compelled and encouraged to do and
be their best.


Leadership Breakthroughs


Consequently, not only did the leadership team experience breakthroughs in collaboration and morale, but they also saw an improvement in the overall business performance and results. In time the entire organizational culture and ways of working together experienced transformation at the direction of this newly focused team.


Particularly, it created a breakthrough in how leadership showed up and the positive net impact that they made on the organization by bringing out the best in everyone. In short, this team came to embody the high performing leadership models that they had aspired to.


How did On The Edge ensure lasting success with UNM Health Medical Group?


On The Edge provided several follow-up processes and structures along with ongoing practical consulting and coaching to support the leadership team in integrating and applying the key learnings from the Team Development program.


Team Covenant


The first successful follow-up process was the co-creation of a team covenant which outlined the key elements and values of team culture that would support the leadership team in continuing to create powerful team dynamics. This team covenant clarified the expectations of how leaders and team members would show up for each other on a daily basis.


The team covenant was utilized regularly to rate overall leadership and team member performance based on established expectations. This structured feedback highlighted opportunities for further team and leadership development.


The team covenant created accountability in moving towards a positive, engaging culture where all team members are treated well. This was accomplished by identifying values and actions that would actively contribute to this new high-performing work environment. To assess the leadership team's performance, leaders were regularly evaluated against these values and actions.


Follow-up Assessment


The second process was a follow-up assessment. This assessment surveyed the impact of the program by acknowledging team growth and success. Effective follow-up and coaching were essential to ensure that this leadership team continued to improve. These follow-up processes demonstrate our investment in the long-term success of our partners long after the program has concluded. Our work with UNM Health was no different.**

 

Footnote:


*
Because teams often have busy schedules, our Team Development program has been streamlined to be delivered as a standalone 1-day program. This 1-day program will achieve positive and lasting impacts as a standalone experience. However, we believe the more time a team and leaders have to engage with these concepts the better. We have found that a 2-day program delivery allows for more time to understand and practice the program concepts. This leads to a more full integration into the organizational structure.


**Ongoing follow-up processes best support effective adoption of high-performing team concepts and models. While we have covered two follow-up processes here, there are many more options available upon request. Get in touch today to see what would be best for you and your team.