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Leveraging a Crisis to Strengthen Your Team

Over the next week I will be making some major changes to the website so don’t be alarmed if it is a little disjointed when you visit.

Happy Holidays!

Shawn StrattonOvercoming Insurmountable Odds

When you look back in time at the biggest events you experienced on a team, I am sure you are thinking about the time when the team faced overwhelming odds and overcame those odds to accomplish their goals. When going on an expedition, it was the long days and nights in the horrible weather, the injury to a fellow teammate and the perils of the adventure that brought the team together to act as one. These moments made the team stronger, leading to the accomplishment of whatever goals you had set out to achieve.

However, if you have given your team a target that is way too difficult and would take a lot of time to accomplish, chances are they will be facing a few hiccups along the way. It can come in the form of a crisis that can set the trend of all future events, hopefully for the better.

We often look at a crisis as a major financial collapse or an accident but it does not necessarily have to be that. It can be something which changes the course of events of a project or a particular person. For example, on an expedition, a crisis can be the team ending up in a bad weather situation that forces them to go off course. Now they have to spend hours tracing their way back so they can reach their destination.

Crisis – A Problem with an Opportunity

In Chinese, crisis can be split into two words. The meanings of these two words are ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’.

I know several team leaders who have created a crisis just for the sake of testing their team members and the backup systems. When in a crisis, people show their true strengths, their priorities and their resolve and their strength to overcome the situation. You can say they show their true colors. If you ever find yourself in a crisis, you need to work with your team to find the ways of how to get out of it. You will see people performing like never before. They will display skills, strengths and commitment like you have never seen.

166_1005557979557_7773_nWhat Brings a Team Together?

What truly brings a team together is their commitment and dedication towards overcoming a tremendous obstacle, not the everyday interaction around the water cooler. This is why most team building activities are done outside the office environment. However, it is important these activities be of a competitive nature. It should put the team under pressure of the stakes allowing them to perform just as they would in case of a crisis.

But if these activities are not properly thought-out and explained, you will be only wasting valuable office time. If done right, every member of the team will discover new abilities, strengthening their bonds and enabling them to reach a higher level of performance. As a leadership instructor, I let a mini crisis develop on its own within the team on short courses. If the crisis is manufactured properly, it speeds up the team development process exponentially.

On the other hand, for long courses, I don’t have to orchestrate any crisis as the unpredictable nature of the environment alone creates small obstacles. Even though I have faced some major crisis on some courses, they were the ones that significantly shaped the team. To share these with you, I have documented them in my book TEAMS ON THE EDGE.TeamsontheEdge_thumb

In the comments below, tell us about a time when a crisis brought your team together.