The One Thing You Need to Cultivate a High Performing Team

When I first started working in the field of Learning & Development in the early 90’s, team-building and cross-functional teams was a hot topic. Everyone wanted to know how to increase performance by working better together. Flash forward nearly 30 years and there’s still a strong need to figure out how to collaborate, be more creative and increase agility to have higher productivity and performance.

Why is that?

For all the work we’ve done to understand the elements of a high performing team, the one thing we don’t discuss a lot and shy away from including it in the formula for team success, is the need for self-compassion.

When you don’t feel compassion for yourself, you are more likely to experience less:

  • Collaboration because it’s hard to develop relationships if you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself
  • Creativity because your critical self-judgment bogs you down from taking action which means you’re not performing at your best (and that’s stressful!)
  • Agility because stress creates a rigidity, making you less resilient to bouncing back from the contortion of stress.

While you may feel compassion for your team members, do you feel compassion for yourself?

According to Chris Germer, Ph.D, founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion,  “Seventy-eight percent of us feel more compassion for others than for ourselves.”

Astonishing, eh? But it makes sense when you think about why your team struggles to become a high performing team. The reason your team struggles isn’t for lack of caring about your team members, more than likely, it’s because you aren’t caring for yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, feeling compassion for others is incredibly important AND it begins with loving yourself.

When you love yourself, you are happier, you’re motivated to take care of yourself, your stress reduces (thereby making you feel safe) and you ruminate less often which means you’re less prone to feeling depressed and anxious. In other words, loving yourself makes you more resilient.

Why don’t you love yourself?

From an early age you learned to protect the core of who you are against threats and challenges of life – physical and emotional threats. Regardless of how happy your childhood was, from the eyes of the child, you developed survival strategies. These survival strategies developed your sense of identity…developed the way you view yourself – who you think you are.

These strategies helped you survive but created a façade. A façade that protected you, but over time, protected even YOU from remembering who you are.

When you remember who you are at your core, you begin to see yourself more clearly. That can be challenging to do because you tend to use your external environment for clues about who you are, but that external environment is often ladened with expectations and judgment about what is “right and wrong” and “good and bad.”

You’ve been trained to use this concept of right and wrong as a form of power. The person who proves rightness wins. As a child, you may have been told in some shape or form that you were “bad”. So you learned to associate being “wrong” or “bad” with losing love and being “right” or “good” with receiving love. Life became a game of proving that you were “right” and others were “wrong” in order to be loved. You learned that love had to be earned.

In the workplace, this shows up as yearning for acceptance – for you to be respected and recognized for the value you bring to the team and organization. Afterall, your success depends largely on the relationships you cultivate and your ability to achieve your goals. Without respect and recognition, you feel like an outsider and judge yourself as being “wrong” or “bad”.

However, when you are seen and heard without judgment, the inferiority you may feel, the stratification that occurs when you are judged as right or wrong, good or bad, dissolves. What is revealed is your divine essence – who you are at your core.

When you are able to see and hear yourself without judgment, you trust yourself fully because you accept that you are whole and that your life has purpose and meaning.  You own your power. In the workplace, owning your power happens when a team member disagrees with you. While you might be frustrated at not gaining immediate buy-in, you recognize an opportunity to learn more about your team member’s perspective – and realize you both have valid points. When your boss overlooks the time and energy you spent on an important project, you own your power when you acknowledge the disappointment you feel but stop yourself from going down a rabbit hole of despair.

As a Leadership Coach, I have a gift of seeing below the surface and hearing what is not said. I see and hear YOU – the essence of who you are. I have a gift for seeing your Sage self. When you work with me you begin to see and hear yourself more clearly as the façade of internal and external expectations begins to dissolve. You fall in love with yourself – connect first with yourself and then others more deeply so your team and organization can make a difference in the world.

Want to work with me? Schedule a Discovery Call to explore if we’re a fit for one another.