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Tycho-Coastal Brake

Tycho-Coastal Brake Album Cover

Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. But this leadership insight came to me by way of Ken Blanchard.


Understand the life-cycle of a team

 Teams have a clear and predictable life cycle. This life cycle corresponds with a life cycle which happens to those individuals within the team – which we’ll look at next week. These cycles have been noted by various observers and everyone gives them their own titles. Here is how I explain them. The titles don’t mean much, it’s what is actually happening and what the titles refer to that is most important. A team has 4 distinct stages. Every team will go through these four stages. None will be short-cut or overcome, but some teams will pass through certain stages faster than others.

Stage 1: Formation. Teams come together as a collection of individuals who have some specific task they are trying to achieve. There’s a fair degree of excitement and enthusiasm. Roles are either assigned or simply taken on unofficially. Rules are set up regarding how the team will work and what is expected. These aren’t so much verbal and stated but rather how things are actually done.

Stage 2: Fighting. The team begins to lose motivation and enthusiasm and can become disillusioned and jaded. Don’t panic or get angry, this is normal and simply needs to be managed and the individuals need to be appropriately cared for. More conflict than normal is to be expected along with team members being confused or unsure of roles and purpose.

Stage 3: Figuring. The team begins to gel and get into a groove where roles are beginning to be owned and understood. Teamwork becomes more natural and trust begins to be created.

Stage 4: Flourishing. The team really catches and owns the vision, individuals understand their place and role within the team, deep trust has formed between team members, more is achieved with less effort, confidence is high as people perform roles “naturally”, motivation and enthusiasm is high.

Each stage of a team’s life has a leadership style that fits best. What makes it complicated is that individuals go through a similar cycle which, though corresponding, doesn’t exactly overlap with this team process. This means that sometimes teams as a whole need a different leadership style than do individuals within that team. But we’ll look at the corresponding leadership styles next week.