Is Your Team Built to Last?


Our teams are under tremendous pressure. That pressure creates stress which diminishes performance. You can build a more resilient team through some simple leadership behaviors.

Today’s post is by Jon Wortmann, thoughtLEADERS instructor and author of Hijacked by Your Brain. He’s our primary instructor for our Building Leadership Resilience course.

Let’s imagine that you are in a unique position. Your team has the talent it needs. Your organization has a strategy that continues to work with a plan that will adapt to your competitor’s actions. You have enough cash to handle the changes in your markets. Your team is ready to work hard and the energy in your offices has never been better. There’s only one question left to answer: is your team built to last?

The problem with our global economy, political uncertainty, and reactive media is that too many of us are living at our edges. We work hard. Our kids’ schedules make us look like our schedules are calm. We play a lot. We travel constantly. We are on our phones frenetically. This means that our brains are always paying attention to something—until they can’t.

In the hot seats of Humvees looking for IEDs or the turrets of tanks, our service men and women rotate out every half hour to 90 minutes. Most of us can only concentrate for 40 minutes at a time, but we expect our teams to start early with staff meetings, handle conference calls on international schedules, and respond to emails at all hours. Our brains are not built for the constant stimulation.

So how do we stay focused and mentally healthy when our expectations of ourselves and our teams to produce keep us under constant pressure?

Give people freedom

Your ideal schedule may not match the people on your team. In a study where students were given control over their time, they reported higher happiness, more role clarity, and less overload. How much would happy teammates who knew their job and felt like they could handle it be worth to your organization?

Learn to measure stress

As individuals and as a team, we need to constantly check in on our brains. Our brains tell us when we are doing too much and paying attention to too many things. You can see the results of stress in your work and your team’s production.

Self-monitoring, a standard tool in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), begins the process of showing people what drives them crazy versus what keeps them focused. What does it cost to check in on people’s stress levels during one-to-one meetings?

Provide coaching

Many pro golfers these days have a swing coach, mental coach, physical therapist, and caddy. Why? It’s not because they are weak. It allows them to only focus on getting the ball in the hole. When they don’t have to worry about more than their job on the course, they suffer less cognitive fatigue, they free up their brains to imagine each shot, and they have instant help any time they need it.

Coaching can come in the form of mentoring, internal coaching, outside training, and regular learning and development. How much stronger would your people be if they had instant resources to turn to when they needed help?

So, is your team built to last?

A team that lasts intentionally schedules their work, measures brain health, and develops trusted relationships so the inevitable ups and downs of organizational life are valuable. Resilient teams know that change is inevitable and they plan the resources, personally and professionally, to consistently bounce back stronger from the experiences that make too many people miserable. The future of successful teams will depend not only on talent and strategy, but how we work together to handle the pace and stimulation that isn’t going to slow down.

So what can you do to build a resilient team?

Are you interested in learning how to build a resilient team and help them improve their skills in this arena? Check out our Building Leadership Resilience course where you can get Jon to come teach your team how to do exactly that. If you’re interested in working with him, just drop us a line!

Jon Wortmann– Jon Wortmann is an expert in the areas of communication, leadership, and stress reduction. He’s the author of multiple books including Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence, The Three Commitments of Leadership: How Clarity, Stability, and Rhythm Create Great Leaders, and Hijacked by Your Brain: Discovering the Path to Freedom From Stress.

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One Response to “Is Your Team Built to Last?”

  1. RJ Bradner says:

    Excellent article. Spot-on with regards to maintaining the Esprit de corp for one’s team.

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