by Burl W. Randolph Jr.

Teams are a way of life in every business, industry, and government in the world, especially the military portion of the defense industry. My experiences with teams involved formation, operation, observation, evaluation, and more often than not, resuscitation. Faltering teams had three characteristics in common:

  • Cliques had formed within the team
  • The cliques had an agenda
  • The agenda fractured the team

Although teams were not candidates for the traditional intensive care units or ICU, they were in need of a different type of ICU. I called this ICU: Inclusion, Commitment, and Unification. A leader who employs the ICU of inclusion, commitment, and unification can generally demolish any clique within a team. Below is an explanation of how ICU works.

  1. Teams are about inclusion, whereas cliques are about exclusion. Inclusion means that everyone participates, and everyone has a voice. Leaders must create the atmosphere within teams that every voice will be heard. People generally know that all input does not produce output but, the ability to participate, contribute, and be heard is all most people want. Leaders create inclusion, and inclusion eliminates exclusion. Inclusion diminishes the power of the clique by at least a third.
  2. Create commitment to the cause versus giving attention to the agenda. Some leaders believe that teams work best alone, or when you leave them to their own devices. What does that produce? Cliques that create agendas! I once heard a General explain: “You usually don’t receive a dollar return on a 10 cent investment. Spend dollar time on dollar tasks”. Leaders need to commit the appropriate amount of time to the team to display a commitment to the cause. Team leaders influence members, guide discussions, and cultivate ideas. This best occurs when leaders are present, prepared, and participating with the team. The leader’s commitment provides an example for team members to follow. Creating commitment crushes agendas, and drowns the clique by another third.
  3. Full participation allows for unification. With all members of the team included, committed, and participating, unification can truly begin. By now, clique members have been eliminated either through attrition, conversion, or replacement. Without the friction, fraction, and distraction of a clique, team members can all row the boat in one direction. When a team is unified professionally, respect, admiration, and friendships increase the commitment to the cause and finally demolish the cliques.

Resuscitating faltering teams through an ICU is no easy task and takes time, effort, and commitment by the leader. Replacing entire teams and beginning from scratch are usually not feasible options either, practically or economically. Creating inclusion, commitment, and unity will not only resuscitate a falter team, but may jump start a leader’s career.

Could your team benefit from a jump start?

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