Ruth Penfold-Brown


  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • The true power of uniting a team

Having worked within the startup, scaleup and corporate world, I have witnessed first hand the relationship challenges that can blight our existence. Well meaning humans show up with their own agenda and fail to find the common ground needed to figure out how to work together. 

A recent Forbes article gave the five most common reasons for leaving a role as:

  1. Toxic company culture (62%)
  2. Low salary (59%) 
  3. Poor management (56%)
  4. Lack of healthy work-life boundaries (49%)
  5. Not allowing remote work (43%)

Culture is number one, but poor communications and expectation management are pretty much the root cause of the others also. All of these things are formed by our ability to relate to others. 

Why is this not the most essential skill that we are trying to learn…? 

I attended a phenomenal course this past weekend on ORSC; Organisation and Relationship Systems Coaching. As a Coach, I have long since held the view that each human being is resourceful, wise and whole, and as Coach, my role is only ever to point them towards their own excellence. You literally are the best advisor you ever need my friends. 

I love the idea behind ORSC though – it basically holds the same view, but also for the relationship between partners or a team; that it is essentially an entity that is resourceful, wise and whole. The magic comes from aligning the team by uncovering the shared goals, and from that alignment, unlocking the wisdom of the relationship to figure out what they need to do next. 

And listen bruv, it’s entirely possible. Pre lockdown, I was lucky enough to hear some words of wisdom on leadership from Owase Jeelani, Paediatric Neurosurgeon at Great Ormond Street. He’s a remarkable human who has become famous for the work he has done on separating conjoined twins.

The magic of true team work

As you can imagine, this isn’t a one person job by any stretch. There is a whole surgical team that needs to come together to create a successful surgical outcome. That team may need to assemble quickly and though some may have experience of each other, many won’t. This team then has to find a way to work together in the right way on this incredible task. Fast.

He spoke of finding the right flows of working together quickly, and having the right people in the right roles. The interesting thing with those in the medical profession as opposed to the startup space I am working in, is that we get to cherry pick the people we invite into the business, and they often don’t. They have to find a way to make it work with the team they are presented with, united by a common purpose.

That’s the kind of team alignment we are talking about; where we can all align behind a common goal, so that we can focus on realising that goal, and not on the inevitable difference that may come up. 

Aligning teams around a common goal

The point is, there will always be difference, there will always be points of view, there will always be things that we find difficult about each other. Instead of assuming we need to fix something, instead, how can we be with ‘it’ and also get to where we need to go. How do we need to be together in order to get there? 

Culture is always changing, the people within it change, internally as well as the flow of joiners and leavers. If we can align our teams in their forever emergent form, we can harness our individual and collective creativity to get where we want to go. 

The power of alignment

I would completely back all of the above when it comes to building teams, but there is a little bit of new data I want to share with you that I learnt from Owase. You see friends, our bodies have physical responses to one another that we aren’t aware of consciously. Some of us find a way to tune into our own bodies and our reactions, and I am happy to say I am now one of those people. I can feel things like stress and anxiety when I am in a new situation but what I hadn’t thought about was the impact that even nuanced reactions may have on other people.

The fact is, we can all instinctively hear, see and feel those nuanced reactions in others; our bodies, without our brains being aware, are constantly listening and responding to the data they are being given from the body in front of them. Our bodies are always in tune with each other and can literally hear the beat of one another’s hearts.

We can feel the non verbal clues that someone is in stress response and their heart is beating faster, but we can also sense when someone feels super comfortable and their heart is in a happy rhythm. What happens when the people around us are super comfortable? We get more comfortable too. Without realising it, we enter into a chemical reaction with the people around us, where our own systems react to what we are presented with. In a difficult interaction, this often exhibits in stress responses and can cause us to reflect the same. By total reverse, when we are truly aligned with others and working in a state of flow, our heartbeats can also align.

YES. Our heartbeats can ACTUALLY align.

We can become so in sync with one another that our hearts can beat together in a perfect rhythm. Incredible right? If that isn’t a beautiful goal to have for when we are working together in teams, I don’t know what is. 

About the Author

I help Founders and People leaders to build and scale purposeful businesses, whilst scaling themselves at the same time.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
ARe you the best innovation leader you could be? Use Our free innovation leadership assessment.