Can greatness emerge from teams riddled with disharmony? Where people disagree, don’t get on, even leave and then come back? And could these teams be even more effective than the harmonious ones? In my experience YES they can achieve greatness, by not by management – it takes great leadership!
Recent studies in genius show that the key to original and creative outcomes is an ability to make unusual connections between seemingly unrelated matters. Creatives are better at seeing relationships and associations than non-creatives. People with an ability to see ‘across’ things and synthesise information to ask better questions see problems differently. If we develop a team of people who are all similar (all on the same page and all working towards the same goal) then we will reach our goal but will we surpass it? Will we produce work of a truly outstanding nature?
It’s not only in jazz bands that we see this. Lennon and McCartney had years of conflict. So did Jagger and Richards. If you know anyone who plays in a band you will be well aware of the conflict and disharmony that goes on between musicians. Think about it, most entrepreneurs, writers and artists are soloists. Could it be that people who create and design are hard to live with?
At school I was a disruptive influence – even today, in a meeting that doesn’t harness my brain for good, I can still be disruptive – although sometimes that’s when I deliver some of my best work! Over time I’ve learned that having disruptive behaviours is slightly different from being a disruptive thinker or facilitating a deliberate disruption to group-think. Disruption today (for an adult) is more about the courage to be human. It’s less about being childish (or applying jargon speak) and more about personal relevance. It can be quite the leadership skill.
Simple but effective disruptive questions sound like these:
- What new points of view can we present?
- How to we frame/reframe old perspectives?
- How do we introduce new perspectives?
So, if disharmony and disruption aren’t bad for teams, I hear you ask: “should I deliberately irritate my team?” Certainly not! That’s not what I’m advocating… but there maybe times when it might be better to accept that conflict could just be left to sort itself out; that having someone on the team who doesn’t “fit in” might be a good thing; and that not everyone has to like everyone else in order to produce great work.
As leaders you want your team to be happy, but sometimes, just like parents, you need to let them battle it out and watch for the growth in maturity and results! Allowing disharmony to exist without any leadership intervention depends on how mature the team is (and you are). There’s simply no point in letting things get completely out of hand – design leaders use their intuition and appreciation of the team balance, rather than control.
I’ve found that coaching is a great way to develop character and emotional competence in individuals. If you have the courage to allow for (or even encourage) disharmony and use it to disrupt apathy then you’ll also need to deal with the consequences and manage the process so that dignity and respect are not compromised. If support is needed from team members to be able to: undertake reflective thinking; reframe ideas and assumptions; have authentic conversations; and engage in constructive responses, then it will be needed ‘just in time’ and you’ll need the leadership expertise to help design that support, appropriately.
Disruptive innovation is not a tactic. It’s a mindset. – Richard Branson
Disruptive leadership is not a tactic. It’s a mindset. – AsiaAus Leaders
The potential for new leadership is all around us, and it’s an exciting time to be thinking about how to design (or redesign) your influence in your business, your community, and your life in ways that create new value.
Want more information about AsiaAus Leaders’ Design Leadership Performance and Team Performance Coaching? Check out our website.