This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into the foundations of teams – which is the first of 2 episodes we are recording on teams. All work gets done in teams, so it is very important that we spend enough time ensuring we have a “team” before talking about performance.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “we need a team so that we can have all those different components working together towards that common goal or purpose.”
  • Sumit – “we need teams because we cannot do everything alone.”
  • Sumit – ” if everybody in a company in an organization is moving in one direction as a team, Then that company will leave everybody behind irrespective of the market, irrespective of the product, irrespective of the economic situation.”
  • Sumit – “what makes a team is a set of conversations, not just a hierarchical relationship, are not just something on paper”
  • Leslie – “Sometimes it’s qualified as like the fluffy extra stuff. Instead of seeing it as the essential foundation to lead to success.”
  • Sumit – “Almost everybody I talked to has this reflection that they know that what they do is not all productive, that there is wastage there, that they are working on things which don’t matter.”
  • Sumit – ” if you can get the conversations, right. what I have seen is that you can produce more value. You can get more done, like not done as in time spent or tasks completed, but more done for the actual stakeholders for the team in less amount of time.”
  • Leslie – “When you’re in any team, you need to know who you’re serving, what does that look like?”
  • Sumit – “a team exists, not in a vacuum. But to serve somebody either it could be an external customer of our company, but it could also be internal stakeholders”
  • Leslie – “conflict or any sort of bump in the road, is inevitable. We’re not all perfect. What keeps a team is that if something does happen where someone is not aligned, or they have done something to hurt the team or an individual that it’s addressed and held accountable so that you can return to that state of alignment “
  • Sumit – “when these foundational alignments are not in place, what happens is it results in gossip? It results in disengagement. People get disconnected.  People know what is wrong, but they don’t speak about it. And people know where the team is faltering, but they don’t bring it up.”
  • Leslie – “it reminded me of a quote and it’s from Julio Olalla. And any problem in an organization or relationship is directly related to a conversation not being held or one being held poorly.”
  • Sumit – “Everybody should be committed. And somebody, if somebody is not committed, then the team leader needs to have those conversations to get that commitment.”
  • Leslie – “if you’re resisting communication for fear or blame, or that you’re going to ruffle some feathers, it’s likely that not having that conversation is going to cause more harm than actually having the conversation.”
  • Sumit – “The commitment and the choice part is very important because you cannot force people to be a part of a team. “
  • Sumit – “what happens when you create a team with all superstars, it creates entitlement. It creates competition because now everybody wants to one-up the other person.”
  • Sumit – “this is a huge blind spot. that we see responsibility as a burden, taking responsibility as taking the blame for what goes wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. responsibility is it’s like a privilege. It’s like a choice,”
  • Leslie – “If you, as a team member are seeing something not going right with someone else in the team, it’s not blame it is responsibility, but it’s out of care of wanting the team. To succeed and do better. So sharing that is important and it is a caring act as opposed to one of blame”
  • Sumit – “this foundation level is where everything else becomes easier. without the foundation, everything else becomes harder. “

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.