On most Thursdays you will find the Grumpy Goats (i.e., the IBEX leadership team) having lunch together in our boardroom. This is where we make many of our decisions. It is also where we talk about leadership. We talk about things we have learned and how we have applied them at work and at home.
At a recent Thursday meeting, things got a little heated during a discussion over a pending decision. One member of the team was obviously not happy with the direction of the discussion. He started to make his point, but then gave up thinking the decision was going against him regardless.
Just a few weeks earlier, I would have let this go and allowed the discussion to continue. But thanks to our recent learning about conflict, I knew better. I encouraged him to speak up.
Our learning on team conflict was summarized in a recent IBEX blog – a post we had all read and embraced.
Because of author Patrick Lencioni’s wisdom, summarized in the blog, I knew we needed to encourage our colleague to express his reasons for discontent. Because we had all read the blog, I was also able to remind the team that this was the type of thing only the best teams did.
The result was a very productive discussion. The issue was a simple one; the decision was minor, but the process was amazing. In the end, the decision did go the way it was originally headed, but not only was there more buy-in from everyone, the actual plan was improved by considering the contrary opinion. It also turned out that there had been more unspoken concern in the room, and this, too, was brought into play. Just a few weeks ago, those concerns might not have been expressed.
What made this great moment possible was that we had all learned the same thing together at the same time and the leader was able to refer to that shared learning. We were able to put team learning into practice. We knew why, and we knew how. I have seen this before; the power of a team learning things together. This experience was a reminder to me of the power of group learning.