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Whirling Chief


Friederike Sommer

After a 20-year career in the healthcare industry, Friederike Sommer is now a consultant, focusing on coaching and mentoring, leadership training and development, and strategic project management and communications. She also provides moderation and facilitation for business events around the world. She began her career in India, as a faculty manager and coach for the world’s largest growth center dedicated to human relations and individual transformation. This led her to build up a training center in Italy, before acting as a consultant on inter-cultural communication between Germany and India. Ms. Sommer has a passion for customer satisfaction, and a knack for anticipating clients’ needs to fulfil their expectations. She lives in Zürich, and in her free time she likes to travel back to India, motorbike in the Himalayas, and practice meditation.

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 144

Supporting Each Other in Career Development

Women leaders show an impressively high level of dedication and goal orientation that not only matches men’s, but in some instances surpasses theirs. Additionally, the women’s mixture of toughness and softness interwoven in their leadership styles made a big difference that proved crucial to the outstanding results of their teams.

Taking that understanding into account means that we, as female leaders, can do a lot more to support other women in their career development.

However, let’s not restrict ourselves with just women-to-women dynamics, as I have personally encountered many wonderful very senior male leaders that were outstanding mentors in areas where I felt I lacked strategic knowledge or analytical understanding.

Indeed, realizing all available options is a good head start in determining what, exactly, one needs to develop in their career. It’s been my experience that by getting a clearer understanding and clarifying my needs, I can better assess the “right” channel to pursue assistance.

Listening recently to a female senior executive at a leadership summit, I took away some insights she stated as a key in everyone’s development:

  • The best way to predict the future is to create it
  • Bring your best self to work
  • Diversity of culture is important
  • Everything is about being authentic and coming from the heart

I can’t tell you how much that resonated with everything I have done in my personal and professional development. Let me tell you a little story about my own development, and the passion that I had to make a difference:

It all started mid 2006 in a meeting with some of the brightest female executive minds in the industry.

We’d met to consider how to create a network of successful female leaders and, ultimately, identify the incredible impact this could have on the wider landscape by giving us the opportunity to share our experiences, mentor, and support each other, and shape inspiring stories from our community.

We rose to the challenge to lead this idea from conception to reality. With no specific knowledge in the area, we set about building our community, spurred on by a belief in ourselves that we would make it happen, as well as the empowerment and trust of our sponsor.

We continued to be hugely motivated and, as a result, rapidly grew with no intention of slowing down. We met and partnered with many wonderful leaders, and welcomed anyone who came to us with new ideas and a passion for what they do.

By doing so, we enhanced our own personal growth, breaking barriers and creating deep and long-lasting business relationships and friendships. Even though we operated in what was still a very conservative business environment, we knew we were setting the foundation for a long-lasting platform.

I strongly believe that we, as female leaders, need to “walk the talk.”

Why do we need to walk the talk?

Because we must continue shaping the industry with the strongest impact, the most forward-thinking innovation, and biggest inclusion possible. This, we can only achieve by speaking up, and by engaging and daring to have a different perspective. It is our responsibility to ensure that our daughters and sons don’t need to talk about gender parity anymore.

There are so many ways to get personally involved, starting with:

  1. D&I initiatives within corporations – a fantastic platform to engage, initiate, and participate in already existing networks. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn and network across industry
  2. Mentor young professionals and/or sign up as a mentee
  3. Trust your intuition and provide insights
  4. Share your story – what made you successful
  5. Take center stage in the coming revolution!

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  • 8 November 2017
Whirling Chief

Organizational Development

Nº 115

How Does Culture Evolve During Times of Change?


I love this question. To answer it, I performed my usual research:

I started with Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist born in 1928 and best known for his pioneering research on cross-cultural groups and organizations. Hofstede’s most notable work has been in developing cultural dimensions theory, which he explored in his books Culture’s Consequences and Cultures and Organizations.

I then turned to Frederic Laloux and his book Reinventing Organizations. I  love what he has to say on this topic: “Corporate cultures and context and purpose drive a culture that is called for in an organization. But beyond the unique culture of each company, there are several common traits linked to the developmental stage of an organization.”

So what are components of culture? There are the values, norms, and behaviors demonstrated by individuals inside an organization. Some are visible, however most are not, as the Iceberg Model demonstrates very well.

Looking closer at the invisible components, you can see that the statements below are important when facing change in an organization.

Trust: Freedom and accountability are two sides of the same coin. We relate to one another with positive intent.

Information and decision-making: All business information is open to all. Every one of us is able to handle difficult and sensitive news. We believe in the power of collective intelligence. Nobody is as smart as everybody.

Responsibility and accountability: We are each fully responsibility for the organization. If we sense that something needs to happen, we have a duty to address it. It’s not acceptable to limit our concern to the purview of our roles.

There are many more attributes, such as wholeness, a caring workplace, overcoming separation, learning, and purpose in our work places.

Now, Laloux states that it is impossible to change other people. We can only change ourselves. I agree!

It is essential that we take ownership of our thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions! That’s a biggie, as it’s certainly courageous to take ownership and reflect on things that trigger us.

If each individual fully embraces those aspects, then no matter what change is happening, we will collectively evolve within our corporate culture and, quite likely, without even noticing it.

Now, let me take a very different route. I had the good fortune to spend my Easter holiday with a close friend of mine, Anu Cain, whom I asked this very question (re: evolving culture) while we enjoyed a long lunch with fantastic Italian wine in southern Switzerland.

Anu’s mother was born in the UK, while his father is half Trinidadian, half Scottish. Anu, born in the UK, moved to Tobago with his family when he was 6 months old. There, he perceived life as unstructured, with people being of free spirit, sensuous and body oriented. Borders or territory were defined by natural elements and seasons, such as the jungle, the ocean, and animals.

After turning 8, they moved back to the UK, where he was suddenly confronted with the western world, which he experienced as cold, mind oriented, rule driven, and political, with territorial boundaries such as garden fences and property lines. These were two very different cultures, with plenty of room for confusion. As an adult, Anu has spent almost 30 years living around the world, in India, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, the US, and Europe, and enjoying the learning of quickly adapting to each. He has gained a profound understanding that culture is alive – it’s not a fixed thing, but fluid. What is acceptable in Japan can be quite opposite in the UK. As a traveler around the globe, one must be adaptable.

I did ask him for his insights about his agility in always respecting and adapting to the cultural environment. He said no matter where you are, there is no universal right or wrong. One simply needs to see the conditions of the environment, be sensitive to the social norms, and always focus on and respect the human values.

That’s also what we need to be mindful of during times of change. People react to change and there is an evolution of values, etc.

The older a culture, the more embedded cultural norms can be, which makes transcending those norms quite a challenge. They may be out of date, as the culture typically grew out of a need for security and safety.

The focus, however, should be on respecting values that are valid today. As we are more and more becoming global citizens, cultures are meeting, merging, and overlapping.

I did enjoy this conversation, as I could see the similarity with the evolvement of corporations today.

My last question to him: What one piece of advice would you give to a team while facing times of change? “Adaptability and being human is the key, and will be the underlying connection beyond culture. The team members’ understanding of their own humanness will always be the bridge. For leaders to remain in his/her humanness in their professional role will always be the bridge.In a dispute about differences one should not only focus on facts, but also truly seeing the other person.”

(FYI, Anu lives with his wife and 2 children outside of Munich, Germany, and teaches body awareness and re-balance. www.silence-of-touch.com)

To summarize, we have two very different perspectives which both come to the same conclusion: During times of change, leaders should:

  • Be self-aware of the emotional journey and evolving dynamics
  • Have compassion for themselves and others, and our evolutionary states
  • Re-ground people around purpose and core values
  • Listen and take time to understand through human connection

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  • 22 May 2017
Whirling Chief

HR Management

Nº 85

Which Non-Monetary Rewards Work Best?


According to a 2011 survey conducted by consulting firm Mercer, what do you suspect is the single most important motivation factor? “Being treated with respect” tops the list.

Recognition and praise can send employees the message that the company respects them and values their contribution. Financial incentives have less importance for most employees than respectful treatment and recognition.

Even the best incentive program can fail if the rewards are not attractive to employees. So, contrary to conventional wisdom, it may all come down to non-monetary rewards, really!

There was an interesting article posted in 2010 by Michael Gabriel on www.vitaver.com that provides you with six non-monetary benefits: flexibility, recognition, training, belongingness, chance to contribute, and fringe benefits.

When I think back to my time working as an employee in a large organization, what got me motivated was leaders that could “walk the talk” and created inspiration. You know, the special kind of person that embodied the Values & Mission Statement. And the key factors that most impacted my motivation?Having the opportunity to learn and explore, especially in non-expertise areas of mine; having time to get to know people; having the opportunity to increase my scope of responsibilities; and the relationship I had with my manager.

Let me provide you with a recent example…

There was a leader who, with his team, had the challenge to get a product out in a very short time. It was a highly valuable product for the company, so pressure came from the top as well. Along with his expertise, he used his emotional intelligence to get to know his team members, acknowledged their contributions, and set very clear goals. This ensured that everyone was up to date on the project. So constant communication was key. He went so far as to insist team members take days off – no checking emails, just spending quality time with family. He trusted his intuition to know who needed what, and when. This turned out to be critical. In the end, the project was a success, the team had bonded, there was respect and appreciation among team members, and they all LOVED their manager, who took such good care of them.

There’s a lot to be said about creating the right environment to foster appreciation, empowerment, happiness, and curiosity. Not to mention pride for accomplishment.

So what’s needed to get there? Jos de Blok makes a good point:

“People must feel safe to be honest about themselves and toward others. Only then can we use the strength of everyone and prevent people from doing things that they don’t really know how to do or don’t want to do.”

We need to ask ourselves: What are other stimuli which can drive a person to perform better besides job satisfaction, job security, and job promotion?

The need for incentives can be many: to increase productivity, to make work more stimulating, to enhance commitment, to drive psychological satisfaction, to instill zeal and enthusiasm towards work, etc.

Could you allocate 3% of your team budget on training without needing to consult, for example? Isn’t that a revolutionary idea, especially in a large organization wanting to streamline and “control” the performance and development of their employees? ☺

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if employees could decide on their own training needs and look for the best provider inside or outside the company. Some may want to do a meditation retreat for some days to find inner balance. This has nothing to do with job development, but it may provide inner balance and grounding upon returning to work.

Another idea might be to turn team members into trainers! This could both help save on costs and boost morale, as it gives employees an opportunity to shine and be recognized for their expertise.

If we want to become authentic and wholesome at work, we must learn to speak up about other important commitments in our lives and act accordingly. We must stop pretending that work will always be our number one priority.

A senior leader at a seminar I recently attended shared this to an audience of leadership trainees:

“If your family is happy, you are happy. If one makes commitments that are not aligned with the family, you will over time feel it and it will affect you and your job performance. No matter what you are doing and in which position you are, family always comes first.”

It is so true!!

Say you’re offered a two-year international assignment. Clearly, for many of us, it could be perceived as a career boost and we would feel very excited about the opportunity. Yet, we would need our family completely behind us. If they don’t fully support the move, it may be a tough decision. If we persuade them to move and they grow unhappy over time, we would feel it too and our motivation, as well as performance, would be impacted.

If you are unsure how to connect people to their own motivation, try allowing for regular meetings. Colleagues can discuss how much time and energy, at that moment in their lives, they want to commit to the organization’s and team’s purpose and why.

A former colleague of mine told me she now allows such meetings…with great success! Every morning, she allocates 30 minutes with her team to simply see and learn how everybody is doing, sharing about family and life, as well as discussing challenges and tasks for the week ahead. She values these meetings as a way to informally connect with her team members, to be seen as part of the team, and to understand the support each individual needs for that week. What a wonderful idea!

Coming back to Michael Gabriel’s article, let me highlight key aspects and what you, as a leader, need to consider for non-monetary rewarding within an organization:

  • Praise and recognize contribution, which leads to employee satisfaction.
  • Take time to listen and learn from your employees, which makes them feel important and heard.
  • Look for job enrichment and promotion opportunities, which provides continuous development opportunities.
  • Keep in mind positive incentives for fulfilling the psychological needs of your employees.
  • Consider fringe benefits when you feel they’re needed. Don’t hesitate to give an additional allowance for a spontaneous day off, for example.

More importantly, TAKE TIME to:

  • Get to know your people by listening and sharing yourself, as nobody is perfect. Remember, we are all humans!
  • Use the language of the heart – it works every time!
  • Be open & honest by developing a safe environment for people to speak up!
  • Never underestimate the commitment and the creativity of your people!
  • Respect and value their contributions!

Sounds easy, huh? It isn’t, however they are truly the biggest non-monetary incentives you can provide as a leader. And which one can receive!

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  • 6 February 2017
Whirling Chief

From Us

Nº 71

Prepare for the New Year…Mentally and Physically!


The Christmas slash holiday break is always a very good time for reflection.

Professionally, we’ve spent a year working towards our objectives, revamped strategy for the new year ahead, and often already communicated to the stakeholders appropriately.

Personally, many of us prepare for a gathering with the family, with some planning for a holiday either in the mountains or at the seaside…

What do I do?

Me, I switch off everything – fly to the beach, take care of my body, cut all routine activities, get together with friends, and talk a lot about nothing. ☺ I take time to meditate, try to regain a sense of myself – enjoying the here and now.

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning…” – Louis L’amour

The New Year begins with the question: What will be new, what can I expect, what is awaiting ahead for me?

Sometimes we engage in this exercise of ‘what about?’. We sit around with friends and ask ourselves what if <fill in the blank> is not important anymore. For example, what if it was not important to:

  • receive good feedback for my success?
  • impress anybody with my beauty and wisdom?
  • have a purpose or clear direction?
  • make others feel valued?
  • be in the driver seat and have a destination to reach?

You see how the activity goes?

After, we would ask ourselves, “Who would I be in those circumstances?” “Who would you be?” “What is my real purpose?” or “What is your real purpose if achieving success, being in the driver seat, or being appreciated is not appealing anymore?”

This helps us strip away all the thoughts, worries, perceptions and obligations we bring onto ourselves. It also helps us reflect on who we really are vs. who we often operate as.

From this space of recognition, we work to welcome truth, passion, and joy of life. We acknowledge our wish to welcome all that will provide energy and nourishment – what, in reality, makes us feel excited and happy.

We welcome all that we do well, and what brings goodness, truth and intimacy into this world.

We welcome being present and listening to our true inner needs; we welcome being kind and gentle to ourselves and others.

We welcome space, trust, faith, and patience. With that, I welcome you and the new year to come!  Happy New Year!

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  • 30 November 2016
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 59

3 Key Ingredients of Effective Teams


Let’s shift now to another important aspect of team development: having team members agree and commit to final decisions, and stick to the agreed-upon plans of action.

I’m sure we have all faced those moments – spending lots of time developing “ground rules,” then trying to commit to those and live by them. I’d like to share with you three aspects you can pay attention to when agreeing and committing to team decision making.

1) Involvement
Commitment to final decisions is vital, as each team member knows – all participants should be heard. The time spent to give everyone a voice in the team is important, as it creates ownership and a sense of “we’re all in this together.” It is harder to get buy-in if people haven’t been involved in the decision-making process from the beginning.

What if a harsh decision is needed – e.g. reducing the number of individuals on a team or selling parts of the business? Can we discuss this amongst team members before laying them off? What if the next level manager or even CEO makes a top down decision? Does an extreme situation call for extreme measures? What about the trust in the team? Will it be still there, especially if every now and then someone has the power to step in and make autocratic decisions? These are a small sample of very good questions Frederic Laloux raises in his book Reinventing Organizations. He illustrates how an automotive company, dealt with exactly that very challenge, offered a potential solution. Instead of a top down approach, he sat together with the team and asked for advise on how to best deal with their specific situation. He took a bold step this way, allowing transparency as well as vulnerability. And yet, it allowed people to engage. By getting ahead of the news, he allowed employees to devise really good ideas on how to handle the situation. As a result, there was a commitment for success not only in the team but within the organization.

In fact, I was once entrusted during a leadership program with coaching a pair of leaders who faced a very similar situation. They came from a small production site, and after some years of uncertainty HQ decided to close it. The onsite management team had the task to ensure productivity till the final day, while everybody knew they would soon be out of a job. Transparency, as well as ongoing communication, was essential. The leaders made a commitment to keeping the energy high, while at the same time taking very good care of and spending time with the individuals to hear their voices about any insecurities they were feeling, and then supporting them in depth throughout the new recruitment process.

In difficult scenarios, it is vital we remind ourselves that any situation can be approached from fear and separation, or from love and connection. In this particular experience, the client chose the path of love and connection. During this time, I witnessed all of them honoring all parts of the change, of the team, the individuals, the productivity, the uncertainty, and, and, and…They all left with a great sense of commitment – to carry the “ship” until the very last day.

2) Cultural Behaviors
Additionally, one wants to look at any cultural implication, especially since these days many of us are working on a global team. It’s always so much easier to discuss and agree in a f2f, and yet how many times are we really in a position to do so?I really like the model that Richard Lewis outlines (www.crossculture.com).


The Lewis Model was developed in the 1990s.

Lewis, after visiting 135 countries and working in more than 20 of them, came to the conclusion that humans can be divided into 3 clear categories, based NOT on nationality or religion but on BEHAVIOR. He named his typologies Linear-active, Multi-active and Reactive.

Cultural behavior, of course, could be in itself an entirely different article to write about. ☺

However, please do keep in mind that in your process of decision making and agreeing on a plan of action, you will need to consider the differences in cultural behavior in order to avoid misunderstandings. I am hoping the above chart can help you with this.

Next to cultural differences, one need also be aware of potentially different personalities.

3) Understanding Learning Styles
Finally, another important aspect concerns getting to know individuals in the team and understanding what kind of personalities they bring to the table. Learning Styles, for example, is a great way (and a real good icebreaker!) for your team to explore different styles within your team. (http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/)In this tool, you will find four categories of learning styles:

The reflectors would need and want a lot of information before agreeing to a decision.
The theorists need some high level information and outline of a project – with that high level understanding, they are good to go.
The activists need very little if at all information, they need to like the project.
The pragmatists want to try and decide while implementing on the project.

It’s an easy, insightful, and fun team assessment and exercise you can conduct. I have used it several times, with great success. Typically, each of us is a mix of all four, however we often find a stronger preference in one of them. Then, as a team, you need and want a strong variety of all preferences, recognizing it can be a challenge to come to consensus and a shared sense of commitment now – a fun challenge.

Resolving for different learning styles will also serve to build a stronger base to then continue with the team to discuss the aspect of decision making and commitment.

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  • 24 October 2016
Whirling Chief

Organizational Development

Nº 49

Conflict as Part of Team Development


Effective teams engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas and manage differences constructively.

Google research provides great insights into how conflict presents opportunities for improvement, (e.g. www.personalityexplorer.com), our preferences in dealing with conflict (www.kilmanndiagnostics.com), and how you can handle a conflict in your team. I find the TKI (Thomas Kilman Instrument) assessment beneficial – in fact, I use this model a lot in my trainings to provide individuals with an understanding about their preferences. See graph below:

Certainly, knowing which preference you exhibit in the face of a conflict will be a real asset. And yet, to manage conflict constructively one needs to start much earlier. Long before a conflict arises. It’s more about having consciousness and setting up an environment in which conflict is welcome.

Let’s talk about those two elements:

Growing into a new form of consciousness is always highly personal & unique. It cannot be forced onto somebody. No one can be made to evolve in consciousness, even with the best of intentions – a hard truth for us as coaches and consultants, who wish to help teams to adapt. When someone is surrounded by peers and leaders (who already see the world from a more complex perspective), in a context safe enough to explore conflicts, chances are higher that the person will express his or herself.

So the way to go is for leaders to, as early as possible, express, welcome, and embrace any disagreements, misunderstandings, or conflicts. Indeed, asking for feedback at an early stage is necessary. And that goes both ways – providing and receiving feedback.

I have had the opportunity to be part of an executive leadership training in a large organization. In preparation for the f2f training, all leaders were asked to initiate a session with their teams called: “upward feedback session.” The objective clearly was to raise a culture within the organization in which feedback is welcomed by knowing that potential conflict will appear, as it is part of the development of a team. (See Bruce Tuckman Model for more info).

The questions that they were asked to explore with their teams:

  • What is one piece of advice your team would like to give you as you continue on your development journey?
  • As a leader, am I investing my time in the right priorities? Am I prioritizing our time and resources effectively? What, if anything, should we stop doing? What, if anything, should we do more of?

As you notice, this is a very mild, constructive way to ask for feedback. Yet the outcomes of those discussions were amazing. Team members dared to speak up and provide insights.

Now, will this be a way to manage conflict in the long run? I would say yes, as team members will learn and acknowledge it’s okay to speak up even at very early stages.

Recent Harvard studies1 have shown that effective change requires specific goals to limit attention, and willpower to practice consistently over a period of time.

Setting Up the Environment
Setting up a psychologically safe environment for people to share their perspective and opinions is equally as important as expressing conflict.

One way of making this part of a team’s culture early on is to dedicate at every meeting at least 15 minutes to provide feedback. As a managing leader, it is important you take the lead by acting as a role model for others. Simply try sharing your own perception at the end of a meeting and ask for feedback. Ask everyone to contribute equally and fairly.

Statements could include the following:

  1. “This is my observation, this is what you do and/or how you behave, and I would like you to continue to do so.”
  2. This is my observation, this is what you do and/or how you behave, and I would like you to change.”

I also do the above as a team exercise – every team member gets a flipchart placed on the wall with those 2 statements. Each person walks around with the task of addressing them. This is very powerful, as everyone has an overview, recognizes similarities, and can identify actions for change from the content. If team members and the team leader do keep that awareness on hand, the climate will certainly change over time in a very constructive and positive way.

I once had a management speaker who very clearly stated: “I want to have at least on person on my team disagreeing with me – I embrace a potential conflict that arises within. This will allow me to rethink and maybe consider aspects that I didn’t think of, or how  best to defend my position.“ For him, it was one of the most important aspects of his leadership capability – to start as early as possible to create a climate of “engaging in unfiltered conflict.” And it worked.

Therefore, in essence, I recommend you be brave, voice it, state opinions and encourage others to contribute in meetings, allow for the conflict to emerge, and be an example to set the tone on how to express it.

Remember also to never blame a person when disagreeing; focus on the action or idea and share what it does to you or the greater team. Engaging in unfiltered conflict is one of the most important ingredients of establishing a healthy team.

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  • 30 September 2016
Whirling Chief

Organizational Development

Nº 33

Building a Successful Team


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
-Richard Buckminster Fuller

Bucky, as many called him, was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer and inventor. He studied at Harvard University, but was expelled for his “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit. At that time quite a bold step!

I am fond of misfits and, naturally, love his statements.

I once had a management speaker declare: “I always want to have at least 1 person in my team who disagrees with me – it allows me to rethink to either defend my view or to change”.

Sesil discussed in an earlier article the essential elements of a successful team:

  1. Effective teams have trust at their core.
  2. Effective teams engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas, and manage differences constructively.
  3. Effective teams commit to final decisions and agreed plans of action.
  4. Effective teams hold one another accountable for delivering on agreed action items.
  5. Effective teams focus on achievement in regards to collective results vs. individual results.

No.1 is key – if there is no trust you can forget about all the rest, as well as any further development as a team.

One rarely gets the opportunity to build a new team from scratch, carefully selecting different personality styles (ie. complementary skill sets, trust in one another). It has to grow and develop.

Normally, we enter a team setting already in place. That forces us to play with the cards we’re dealt, so to speak, and fit ourselves into the existing dynamics. Now my question to you: How many of you enter a team and have an immediate gut feeling of likes/dislikes, trust/mistrust, and who is easy to work with? And what happens if you soon realize there is a misfit among you?

It takes me some time, very carefully and consciously with an almost neutral approach, to step back from my first subjective measurement and look at it as an opportunity.

We are so caught up in delivering on objectives that we don’t take, or find, the time to get to know each other. But that is the key – you need to slow down in order to move forward to become as bonded and effective as you need to as a team.

So how do I do that?

Developing team ground rules (see some samples of ground rules at the end of this article) :
– We always develop those at the start to get some clarification on why we are here and what needs to be achieved. We capture them on a flip chart and expect buy-in from all team members. If done so, great! Do we live by and apply those rules on a daily basis? Not necessarily! Why? Because at the core, I am not sure if I can trust every team member. There definitely is a willingness, however time will tell….

Perfomancepuzzle_smallThere’s a team development activity I use often. Personally, I think it’s fantastic, letting you recognize team dynamics in a very short time: different personality types, ambitions, and behaviors. It’s called “Performance Puzzle,” and I find it brilliant, fun and insightful. You can play it with a group of 4-5 people as a stand alone – larger teams can split into 2-3 working groups.

The game leads to robust discussions, incorporating insights into the business environment, and developing team ground rules. Make sure you regularly follow up on the ground rules – so that it is a living document.

Guiding Rules / Ground Rules samples:

  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Fully endorse the mission and awareness in interactions with different functions
  • Support each other with team spirit attitude
  • Positive and constructive thinking
  • Instill a “never give up” philosophy
  • Escalate if needed
  • Trust and communicate openly
  • Listen attentively and actively
  • Be humble and determined towards our objectives
  • Before asking ourselves, how others can change behavior, let’s see how we ourselves can change

If you want to further develop some of those rules, please be sure to discuss it in detail with your team so that there is a common understanding how to act on them.

Ensure that each team member contributes — if there is too little engagement, pair them up, ask them to use Post-it notes to summarize their understanding, and have them present that back.

Soon I will be talking about No. 2 of team development: Effective teams engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas and manage differences constructively.

Join the conversation


  • 24 August 2016
Whirling Chief

From Us

Nº 18

Whirling Chief: a great platform for exchanging ideas


I am honored to have been invited to share some of my key learnings from more than 20 years working in the areas of organizational, team and leadership development.

Let me introduce myself: Ever since I was a teenager and was drawn to the business world, my main questions have always been: Who am I, what is my potential, why am I here, and how can I best contribute?

With those questions I started my journey.


Completed my education, worked, and became a mother and housewife. Went to India, lived and worked in a traditional Indian ashram for 6 years with the focus on meditation and self inquiry, traveled throughout the country, learned how to ride a motorbike and came back to the West. India is fantastic in teaching one to stay in the moment. No past, no future — all that exists is the now. I clearly raised my consciousness and had a better understanding of who I am.

Now the challenge was, how to best incorporate that knowledge into the western business world. Working for 7 years in a global HC environment within HR was exciting. I met and worked with a number of colleagues all around the world – recognizing their spirit and their passion on all different levels has been fantastic.

However, one big question arose: Is that it? Do I want to stay safe, secure, recognized, adapted or is there more to explore?

As Eckhart Tolle stated: ”Sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

So I took another jump and left a secure job to continue my search. I started my own consulting business 7 years ago, focusing on the work I still love to this day — organizational, team and leadership development. All my years of personal development and getting to know me, beyond social and family conditioning, really helps me meet others in an open way. And yet the same question lingers: Is that it?

I realize the continuous search and widening of my perspective, staying “awake” or not falling asleep, is the journey and a potential answer to my question.

Indeed, staying focused, present and open is the journey, and there is no end to it.

Whenever I walk into a training, whenever I coach or work with teams, do I really, truly come from a space to openly receive whoever is sitting in front of me? That means without any judgment, like or dislike, but with an understanding that we both can learn from each other. We refer to it as ‘mindfulness’ these days.

So, I will use the Whirling Chief platform to share my understanding on topics: Leadership, Team, and what I have learned and observed.

I am truly looking forward to your feedback and comments as well as your experiences and insights.

The next topic I want to share is about TEAM. Sesil often touches upon the importance of trust in team building and Simon Marshall shared recently a wonderful summary on Leading From Heart – so what else is needed? Stay curious… And always ask “Is that it?” or “Can I be doing more?” in the spirit of being in the moment.

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  • 20 July 2016