Pillars of foundation: Mutual respect, trust
The foundation on which good teams are built is mutual respect among members. Individually powerful versatile chemicals when collectively mixed together can explode lethally. Chemistry is the science of knowing which chemicals are safe to mix.
Similarly, team building is the science of studying the chemistry of individuals before safely combining them into a team. When people of reactive chemistries are combined together, there is an explosion of egos than of ideas. A good team is about diverse talents with matching chemistries.
The foundation on which good teams are built is mutual respect among team members. On that foundation of respect, is a layer of trust, on which the entire team building structure stands. Only in such a stable structure will people be comfortable to let go of their egos and focus on performing their expert roles without being insecure with others, superlative contributions.
In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas had great respect for each other’s talents as well as great mutual trust in each other’s intentions. The team chemistries matched unbelievably with occasional sprinkling of Krsna’s love formula. Yudhishthir never had to bully his team to follow his orders based on his position.
Krsna never boasted about his superiority of knowledge by pointing Arjuna’s mistakes in using weapons. Each one in the team had his strengths and his targets prefixed. Their personal agendas only complemented the team goal.
Dhristadyumna was born to kill Drona; Shikandi had waited two births to kill Bhishma; Bhima had vowed to kill all the 100 Kauravas; Sahadev’s target was Shakuni; Arjuna was eager to silence Karna and Nakula had chosen Karna’s sons.
Be flexible in changing structure
Team-building is a dynamic process. At no point can a team be considered frozen. There has to be flexibility for dynamic changes in team structure, according to the need of the hour. In the face of a new unforeseen challenge, where the existing team is underequipped to handle in terms of their skill sets, there has to be dynamic recruitment of new talent.
In the Mahabharata, on the 14th day of the war, the battle continued way beyond sunset. As the warriors fought in the dark holding torches, Krsna included a special entrant into the Pandava side. This was Gatotkach, the nocturnal rakshasa son of Bhima. Since a rakshasa’s strength multiplies at night, Gatotkach’s entry proved to be a disaster for the Kauravas. The timely induction of a new team member boosted the Pandavas’ morale and gave them an upper hand.
Clarity in communication and empathy
Just before the war, Duryodhana managed to trick Shalya to give his commitment to join the Kaurava forces. The Kaurava prince felt that having Shalya’s military force as well as his martial expertise on his side would prove to be a big boon. Unfortunately, although Duryodhana verified his talent, he did not care to ascertain his attitude. Though physically on the side of the Kauravas, mentally and loyalty wise, Shalya was on the Pandavas’ side. He didn’t miss a chance to criticise the Kauravas and weaken their morale. And, he proved especially nasty when he was forced to drive Karna’s chariot.
Two things help in shaping great teams into landmark communities – clarity in communication and empathy in dealings. Clarity in communication does not guarantee absence of conflicts but it minimises them. Along with clarity in communication, if there is empathy in dealings, it is possible to resolve conflicts and not dissolve teams. Building teams is about moulding hearts to thump together.
Stability in team work depends upon diverse talent, mutual respect and trust.
It is further strengthened by clarity in communication and empathy in dealings.
In such an environment, individual egos melt in the fire of cooperation resulting in superlative team performance.
(The writer is an author, Tedx speaker, story-teller, corporate trainer and visiting faculty in several premier management schools)