The Secret Weapon of Team (and Family) Success

Last year I read an excellent article published in Harvard Business Review (HBR Magazine April 2012: The New Science of Building Great Teams by Prof. Alex Pentland). As the chief scientist of MIT Media Lab, he is the head of a team who have developed a device that measures team performance through a set of criteria they identified.

To summarize, Professor Pentland says that the PATTERNS of communication are the most critical element for team success. These patterns relate to:

1. The energy and nature of the exchanges between individuals in the team.
2. The engagement of each member which relates to the flow of energy between team members.
3. The exploration of team members – i.e. their communication outside the team and how much they learn and share what they have learned.

Face to face communication between all members can affect team performance by up to 35%! Emails and texting are the worst forms for connection.

For a super successful team, there need to be a lot of ‘charismatic connectors’! ‘Charismatic connectors’ are people that:

  • Actively circulate
  • Engage people in short, high energy conversations
  • Communicate equally in terms of time – they ‘share’ themselves around!
  • Make sure all team members contribute
  • Feel comfortable approaching others
  • Listen as much if not more than they talk
  • Are very engaged with whomever they are listening to (i.e. they are present)
  • Connect team mates with one another
  • Explore ideas from outside and share them without jeopardizing group engagement

Although this research was done and presented for the corporate market, it seemed to me that not only is it what I have been speaking about for years – under a different set of terms, but it’s also important for success in all areas of your life!

For a family to function well – they need to be a team!

How good is your family at teamwork? How often do they interact face to face? Have emails and texts taken over as your primary form of family communication? Do you listen AND contribute? Do you encourage your children to share their opinions and ideas and teach them to listen respectfully to others. Do you model being engaged and interested – genuinely – in the people to whom you are listening? Do you model learning and sharing?

I would like to suggest you consciously focus on building ‘charismatic connectors’ in your family and at work. Be wary of labeling any of your children or yourself as ‘shy’ or ‘not a good communicator’. These are stories we tell ourselves that dramatically affect our lives and others.

Find out what you and your partner, friends, children say to themselves about themselves – what story they are telling themselves about how they communicate or whether others would be interested in what they say. Or about how much influence they can have.

These stories will have come from early childhood and are not absolute truth! Your stories can be explored and challenged. You may just change your life or that of your partner/child/sibling/colleague with this exploration and the discovery that we have choices over how we behave, and what we believe about ourselves – and that we can learn new ways to be.

Although learning is not mentioned specifically in the article, it’s implicit. Lifelong learning helps us change, grow and develop. Reading this blog may be the information that triggers some of you to do the work to see the changes you desire. If so – TA DA to you!

So for your life success – not just business success – trigger a series of discussions with your family, friends and colleagues on being a CONSCIOUS ‘charismatic connector’. I added the conscious bit!

Initially as with any new thing we learn, we have to focus on being conscious of the changes. But after a while of focusing on changing and consciously making an effort we become consciously competent.

Continue with your efforts and soon you will become an unconsciously competent charismatic connector! VOILA! And I suspect you will find yourself a very popular and successful person in many areas! En-joy!

You can read more about connecting with yourself and others here: 3 Simple Ways to Connect with Yourself and Others

by Amanda Gore

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