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chapter 22 The Myth of Personality Type

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We can encapsulate this chapter by saying that everything we said about adventure learning and team-building also holds true for the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory.

Adventure learning used mountaineering and other outdoor experiences to provide team members with new understandings about themselves. The Myers-Briggs personality categories also provide every team member with exhilarating new insights into themselves, and a set of initials (e.g., ENTP, ISTJ) that explain what kind of person they are. The Myers-Briggs instrument is more than a piece of paper to enthusiasts—it becomes the organizing principle of their lives.

Typology is based on the insight that there are many archetypes of people, that those types can be tested and defined, and that knowing what type we are relates directly to such down-to-earth business problems as leadership development, career decisions, and just plain getting along with others.

Founded on the insights of pioneer psychoanalyst C.G. Jung, typology holds that people can be divided into two perceiving or input groups (sensors and intuitors) and two judging or processing/output groups (thinkers and feelers). It measures the state of your current nature/nurture stew. Knowing where one falls on the continuum between the extremes can help you in making career moves, in delegating tasks you think are beyond you, in hiring and assigning people, and in working to strengthen your lesser talents.204

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chapter 16 Communication Shortfalls

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Your company is insisting it wants great teamwork. Everywhere you look, its team this and team that. Employees get the message loud and clear. But thats the only message they get.

Once they team, they feel like they have climbed a tall tree, up to the highest branches, and as far as they can see theres nothing. No mail trucks, no telephone lines, no smoke signals. Theyre literally up in a tree, left to their own devices, blinking.

Even if you create a team with a magic wand, it must be sustained the old-fashioned way, with lots of TLC—Teaching, Learning, and Communication.

Team are about knowledge: how to get it, how to improve it, and how to pass it on. In the old days knowledge was a byproduct of doing business; today it is the primary driver. The distinctions between working and learning have never been fuzzier.

Examine again our list of team dysfunctions: mismatched needs, confused goals, cluttered objectives, unresolved roles, bad decision making, uncertain boundaries, bad policies, stupid procedures, personality conflicts, bad leadership, bleary vision, antiteam culture, insufficient feedback and information, ill-conceived reward systems, lack of team trust, and unwillingness to change. Every one of these dysfunctions represents a failure of learning.137

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chapter 7 Empowerment Uncertainties

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Between the subjects of the last two chapters, goal setting and decision making, is an enormous crevasse, into which teams fall, then fester and stink up the joint. This is the area of boundary management—or in the case of team failure, mismanagement.

Empowerment is a form of decision making not mentioned in the last chapter because it involves individual, not team decisions. Yet it is probably the most important kind of deciding that occurs on teams.

Heres the deal: Organizations create teams to achieve certain goals. They may tell the teams, usually quite vaguely, that they are empowered to some degree to do whatever is necessary to achieve the goal.

Or they may not.

Either way, the team has been set up to fail. Either the team feels it has no authority or leverage to carry out its mission, or it is confused about what its authority or leverage really amounts to.

It is deeply depressing to a team to go to all the trouble of learning how to solve a problem, only to be paralyzed, unable to implement that solution, because it doesnt know if its allowed to. Or worse, to implement the wrong (but defensible) solution because it doesnt think management will go for the right (but ambitious) one.

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chapter 24 The Myth that People Like Working Together

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Say you have just been to a galvanizing seminar on teams, or read one of the excellent happy team books that abound on business bookshelves. You are excited about the potential teams have. You decide to go team with your colleagues.

You think, if we are to be a team, we must live, eat, breathe, and perform daily ablutions as a team. You tear down the cubicle walls, throw everyone in a pit together, sit back, and wait for those inevitable high-performance team results.

And wait. And wait.

You can wait till the cows come home, and high performance does not. The reason is that—surprise—people do not like being thrown into pits en masse.

We began this book with the wistful observation that most people have a real need, deep down, to work together. This is true in the aggregate. But we dont generally like being shackled to one another at the ankle. Thats not a team, its a chain gang.

People—average Americans, anyway—need their space to feel calm and safe. Spending the whole day in a playpen with teammates sounds less like a prescription for performance than a French drama of existential ennui.

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chapter 23 Myths of Team Leadership

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Leadership is the vessel for many of the worst team myths, for a logical reason. As keepers of the team vision, leaders make up a lot of stuff. Here are some of the worst illusions foisted on us by leaders about leadership.

Finally, there is the seriously mistaken notion that senior teams function like other teams, just in a more senior way. That teams at the top—teams comprised of board members, CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and other senior level execs—roll up their sleeves and collaborate in the same way that grunt teams do. They dont.

Anyone who has been on a senior team knows how rare true camaraderie is. The senior team table more closely resembles a play from the Renaissance, with dukes and earls and grand viziers jockeying for advantage, than the kind of team we have been talking about. At the top levels, politics reigns supreme, and team members are there less to cooperate on joint action than to pursue constituent agendas.209

This is partly because of the personality type that tends to rise to the top of organizations—Drivers with a bullet. Hard-charging executives prefer disposing to proposing, and they are typically rewarded for superior top-down, command-and-control performance. Except perhaps for the Vatican, large organizations do not turn to pastoral types for leadership.

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