Lessons on "Teaming" from Tanzania

In our agile world of work, we are often required to form, dis-form and re-form teams of people for projects. This often requires a quick turn-around and a focussed, outcomes-based approach.

Professor Amy Edmundson (2012) is a leading voice in the concept of “Teaming”. She explains:

Teaming is a verb. it is a dynamic activity, not a bounded, static entity. It is largely determined by the mindset and practices of teamwork, not by the design and structures of effective teams. Teaming is teamwork on the fly”.

My recent trip to Kilimanjaro saw the need for Teaming. Our trekking group consisted of twelve people from across the world. For the next six days we were to travel together, eat together, live together and support each other through tough times and triumphs.

It was vital that we bonded quickly and a team culture was established early. We needed to move quickly through Tuckman’s model of forming, storming, norming and transforming.

Our trek leader was masterful in creating such a team. Below are five deliberate acts of leadership he employed that turned a group of mostly total strangers into a cohesive and collaborative team who were collectively and individually transformed by the experience.

  1. Sharing (and revisiting) the common goal/purpose.

  2. Stating (and re-stating) the mindset needed for the journey.

  3. Ensuring all people were equipped with what they needed to take the journey.

  4. 1:1 regular check-ins

  5. Modelling kindness and grit

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Reflective questions:

  • Which of these deliberate acts of leadership do you do well? How do you know?

  • Which do you need to brush-up-on? How might you do this?

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