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Are You Surrounded by Idiots? (A Case Study)

#cohesiveteams #highperformance Apr 11, 2024

Let’s be clear: I don’t recommend labeling people in this way, but let’s face it, we’ve all had our moments…

Some prefer the word morons.  I don’t recommend that either, but occasionally, the shoe seems to fit. Maybe, especially when I’m driving?

And I admit, I use these labels about myself just as often as I use them about others.  Engaging in positive self-talk has been a lifelong pursuit and challenge for me.  What about you?  I’m hoping I’m not alone.

In his book Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson describes the four types of human behavior that define how we interact with others, and how we perceive the behavior of others.  In short, those who behave differently than we do, we tend to label as idiots (at least in our minds).

The book was a gift from a client when I was facilitating an offsite session for her team on the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, based on Patrick Lencioni’s bestselling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. She gave a copy to everyone, which was playful and fun, along with a stress ball.  As with many effective leaders, she recognized that her team, while high performing for the most part, had some areas where communication and interaction could be improved.  She asked for my help.

This is one of my favorite sessions to facilitate with a team, whether the team is high functioning or dysfunctional, or anywhere in between.  The diagnostic tool I use helps to pinpoint the biggest challenges the team is facing as a team, and during the course of just one day, we are able to identify specific actions that each individual could take – and did commit to take – to improve the overall functioning of the team. 

The Five Behaviors assessment not only measures how the team performs in each of the building blocks of a cohesive team, but also measures how each individual contributes to the team dynamic. When people can make the connection between their own behavior and how the team functions, it’s a beautiful thing.

Individual behavior in this assessment is based on the DiSC Model of behavioral style.  DiSC is one of my favorites because of its simplicity with underlying layers of understanding that acknowledge and appreciate the true complexities of human behavior. Like the model in Erikson’s book, where he uses colors to describe the different styles, DiSC is based on research that dates back nearly one hundred years yet stands the test of time.

The book is amusing and informative, and I’m glad I read it, as it deepened my own understanding of the model and its application. And, because I do find human behavior endlessly fascinating.

The bottom line here is that understanding how we are the same and how we are different from others is valuable insight.  Overcoming the tendency to characterize and label people goes a long way to improving our everyday interactions, whether at home or at work. When we learn to accept others as they are and not how we want them to be, life just gets better.  And so does the workplace.

If you are curious to know about your own style of behavior more deeply, or you recognize that your team could use some help becoming more aware and more effective, let’s talk.  I’d love to help.

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