What To Do When Your Team Loses Its Magic

By Julie Boyer, MFA, CPCC | Tips & Tools

(I first wrote this post for Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling, a blog for women in business.  You can check it out here.)

Working like dogs, but not so well as a pack?

Connection builds synergy.  There’s an art to creating synergy with a group, and the way to create it is by working with the “how” just as much as the “what.”

In workshops I give with Michael Wallace of (fascinnovation.com), we bring emotion into a space and direct it.  It’s not touchy feely, and it’s not therapy.  We use emotion to guide change, and it ignites connection and creativity like pouring gasoline on a pile of lit fireworks.

Part of the reason for our results might be that using positive emotion to create group coherence isn’t something we are all are trained in, and so it comes as a delightful surprise.

Here are four questions and simple actions to consider when bringing back (or amping up) your team’s magic. 

(And even if you’re not the one in charge, everyone creates culture. You’ll be able to use these tools individually, too.)

Do you know one another’s why?

When we’re focused on the what, we track progress, we understand what needs to be done, we plan together, we communicate and collaborate.  That’s our work. 

But shifting to the why once in a while can boost our potential.  For example, do you know your coworkers as people?  Do you know what their greatest gifts are?  Do you firmly believe in the potential of each of them? 

Do you know why they come to work everyday?  What values or beliefs do they build their work around?

This may seem like strictly social territory, but the success of our work together- especially when taking big risks or facing the unknown- depends on how well our machine is socially lubricated. 

We know what happens when we hear a company’s story of why they do what they do.  We connect.  We feel trust.  We are drawn in.  Then, the company is able to direct all that positive momentum toward what they’re creating.

If I know a person’s why, I ‘get’ them.  I know where their biggest motivation is.  And, odds are I will be drawn in with feelings of compassion, connection, and empathy.  This connection naturally reveals our alignment:  I see where we both want the same things. 

And, if I’m really paying attention, I will look for the light in someone’s eyes, or where their unique gifts are, as I’m listening.  Then, I’ll put words to what I see.  Because I see him or her, not as a means to creating my success, but as a human being, valuable in his or her own right.

People connect with their own motivation and gifts when you see them, and that’s fuel for focus.  Acknowledgement is a powerful tool to boost energy, confidence and motivation. 

And for the acknowledger, appreciation floods the system with positive emotion, much like gratitude (and we’re familiar with the documented benefits of that).

It’s simply a very smart way to create a emotionally positive atmosphere.

Do you champion one another?

Once we ‘see’ who a person is, and we’ve appreciated what’s great about them, we’ve also gathered important confirmation of their potential.  Our knowledge about them comes not just from their resumes or performance (things that help us look backward), but also from our direct experience of who they are and can be (which helps us move forward). 

Our heart-based intuition (which is informed by our own personal experience) generously sees what this person is capable of.  Championing someone means communicating what you know in your gut they are capable of.  It requires trusting your inner authority and taking a stand.

Championing someone with true conviction can help that person see themselves in a way they hadn’t before.  This is important: when our understanding of what we’re capable of expands, so does our probability of realizing it. 

What we’ve found in our workshops is that when we champion people, we make some potential they’d doubted feel real and factual.  Once they see that this gift or potential is real, they can own it and use it with more confidence.

Do you challenge one another?

The ultimate form of championing a person is to challenge them.  I’m not talking about poking someone with a stick to see how they react, or testing him or her.  The kind of challenge I’m working with here is a form of calling forth.

When you truly believe in someone- because you want them to do well, because you have seen what they are capable of, and because you don’t want anything holding them back- you will challenge them.

You will challenge them when they commit themselves to a self-diminishing point of view.  You will challenge them when you see them coasting.  You will challenge them when you see them resign themselves.  You will challenge them when you see them shy away from worthy risk-taking.  You will challenge them when you see them behaving in ways you know they’re not proud of.

Once you really know someone, you ‘see’ them, and you champion them, then you can challenge them.

This kind of conflict is healthy, and vital for fostering mutual growth.  Work that holds us to our best is exciting.  People who hold us to our best can change our lives. 

Do you have one common, compelling, heart-based vision?

When a group of individuals know one another enough to identify their gifts and tell the stories of their whys, there’s great potential to see where everyone’s true motivations line up.  Everyone has a dream of some kind that lights up their energy and focus. 

When you bring this kind of energy on board, you’ve got powerful momentum.  If you use this momentum to form your group’s vision, finding and identifying themes that resonate, you will build a picture of the common dream.  This dream is the articulation of where you are going, what you are creating together. 

This process can be applied on all different scales.  Try using it to come up with a team vision for each quarter, or even each project.  Starting with a vivid, common dream of success helps everyone know where they’re going and keeps motivation high.

When we know one another personally and authentically, and our dream is truly a collective one, our vision statement isn’t just a concept that people follow.  Everyone has a personal stake in it.  That’s powerful. 

The magic of human potential is there, it just needs to be unleashed.

If this resonates with you, and you’d like to make use of the process, share this article with someone you can partner with to create change.  Discuss it, apply it, play with it, and start getting your magic back.

About the Author

I help people who are stuck in the wrong job find their true purpose and make a life from it, so they can finally enjoy satisfaction and success. I believe every outlier has a purpose, and it's not to fit in- it's to elevate the status quo. I discuss things like: the truth about how change really happens, common traps we create for ourselves (and how to eliminate them), how to own your emotions and leverage them as a leadership tools, and stories of regular people leading from their hearts and experiencing success.