148: Leadership Lessons from Mars: A New Approach to Teamwork and Collaboration with Carlos Valdes-Dapena

Ep148 Leadership Lessons from Mars New Approach Teamwork Collaboration carlos valdes-dapena TalentGrow Show with Halelly Azulay

An effective approach to team building and collaboration is a key component of any successful organization. Yet, many leaders may find today’s prevailing models on the subject not very helpful. On this episode of The TalentGrow Show, author and organizational development professional Carlos Valdes-Dapena challenges the prevailing orthodoxy of corporate team building and shares the unique model he developed from years of research and experience working with Mars, Inc. Listen to discover the motivation and key ideas behind Carlos’ new book Lessons From Mars, learn the three imperatives and six practices that make up his team building model, and get actionable tips and exercises for implementing it successfully in your team. Plus, find out when and why collaboration isn’t always necessary! Tune in and don’t forget to share with others in your network.

ABOUT CARLOS VALDES-DAPENA:

Carlos Valdes-Dapena is the founder of Corporate Collaboration Resources, LLC, an organization and group effectiveness consulting firm, and the author of Lessons from Mars: How One Global Company Cracked the Code on High Performance Collaboration and Teamwork

Carlos developed his expertise in collaboration at the highest organization levels. For 17 years he was a senior internal consultant at Mars, Inc. and was involved with brands like M&Ms, Snickers, Uncle Bens Rice and Wrigley’s gum. Before that he spent three years at IBM as an executive coach and consultant to the top 35 global leaders including a number of CEO Lou Gerstner’s direct reports and also led the team that designed and ran IBM’s global executive development programs. 

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Carlos introduces the motivation behind his book, Lessons from Mars, with a story (7:16)

  • Carlos offers an insightful critique of Tuckman’s Team Development model (11:16)

  • An overview of the three imperatives and six practices that make up Carlos’ model, and how they connect (14:33)

  • Halelly and Carlos address the seeming conflict between our focus on teamwork and collaboration and the need to focus on individuals (20:20)

  • Why it’s important to realize that collaboration isn’t always necessary (23:54)

  • Carlos shares a favorite actionable tip from his book (24:52)

  • Halelly connects the exercise Carlos suggests with his point about clarifying context 

  • What’s new and exciting on Carlos’ horizon? (29:30)

  • One specific action you can take to upgrade your team leadership skills (31:06)

RESOURCES:

Transcript:

Episode 148 Carlos Valdes Dapena

TEASER CLIP: Carlos: Why should it make sense in a business setting, especially in this day and age when stuff changes so fast? One of the pre steps in Tuckman is, as soon as there’s a big change in the team – a new member, a new leader, a new strategy – the team goes back to stage one performing. For crying out loud, at Mars and other companies I’ve worked with, teams go through significant changes like that every three months. So how frustrating is that? We’re always in stage one or two. How is that helping them grow? What I realized is we needed something else, and I’d done the research and what became clear to me was, we need to give managers and their teams something they can actually do about this.

[MUSIC] Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: TalentGrowers, there’s a lot of tension out there whether teams do good work, whether team building activities are of any value, and how the heck do you build your teams to make them actually more productive, more effective, more engaged? This has been a topic that I certainly have encountered in my work with teams as a facilitator of team building retreats and team development activities and it is also a topic that has been of interest here on the TalentGrow Show previously. So this week I’m really glad to introduce you to an interesting author who has written a book based on his research and many years of on the scene experience developing a team-building framework that you can use. Carlos Valdes Dapena is going to be on the show today and we describe some interesting and actionable stuff for you to help you build better teams. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow and this is the TalentGrow Show. I look forward to hearing what you thought about this episode, but without further ado, let’s take a listen.

TalentGrowers, I’m really happy to introduce you to Carlos Valdes Dapena. He is the founder of Corporate Collaboration Resources LLC, an organization and group effectiveness consulting firm, and he is the author of Lessons from Mars, how one global company cracked the code on high-performance collaboration and teamwork. This is why I asked Carlos to join us today because you know I’m very interested in helping you with building better teams. Carlos developed his expertise in collaboration at the highest organizational levels. For 17 years, he was a senior internal consultant at Mars Inc., and was involved with brands like M&Ms, Snickers, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Wrigley’s gum. Before that he spent three years at IBM as an executive coach and consultant to the top 35 global leaders, including a number of CEO Lou Gerstner’s direct reports and also led the team that designed and ran IBM’s global executive development programs. I’m excited to welcome Carlos to the show. Carlos, welcome!

Carlos: Terrific. I’m glad to be here. Thanks Halelly.

Halelly: I am so glad that you are here. I read an article that you wrote and was fascinated, reached out to you, and I’m glad you accepted my invitation. Since, I have also read your book – I have to admit that I haven’t read every word of it because it’s dense.

Carlos: It’s big!

Halelly: It’s got a lot of really juicy content, but I’m looking forward to talking about it with you today. Before we start, I would love for you to introduce yourself briefly and describe your professional journey. Where did you start and how did you get to where you are today?

Carlos: It’s been quite a journey. My first professional training was as an actor, as a matter of fact. I have a Master’s degree in acting, as well as my actor’s equity card, and have experience on the professional stage. Not great experience, because I wasn’t terribly good at it, but I always wanted to be a teacher. And I thought I would go into teaching theater at the university level, so I got a terminal degree there. Things didn’t quite go as well as I planned. I ended up in New York. I got into the photography business because I loved photography. Worked for a small photo agency in New York, and this goes back before the days of the internet, so we couldn’t send photographs back and forth from our phones or websites. We actually had to send real live photos to people by FedEx. I was in that business for about 10 years. As that industry matured and just as it was beginning to transition into a digital one, I realized during that time what I loved was how businesses worked. I was sort of the internal, informer fixer for stuff. I was very fortunate leaving there after nine or 10 years to get a job with a company called DDI. You know, DDI in the talent space, they’re really big.

Halelly: I was certified to be a trainer for them. Small world!

Carlos: That’s what I did. I certified people to be trainers. And then I got into performance management, consulting and some leadership development work. From there, after three years, I landed at IBM at the headquarters in Armonk, New York, where as you have already described I was a coach and an organizational consultant. After three years at IBM, during which time by the way I got my Master’s in OD, so I kind of got official in this space from 97 to 2000, and then I joined Mars in 2000. Had a terrific run there, an amazing company – we should talk more about it. It’s an interesting, quirky, very special place. Big and successful place at the same time. But it was during my time there, as you know from having read the article and the book, that I began to think about teams more deeply, conduct some research, work with teams extensively around the world and that eventually led to the dense book that you’re trying to work your way through.

Halelly: What a fascinating journey. My listeners, the TalentGrowers, know that I’m always interested in people’s professional journey because it rarely is a straight line. It’s a testament to the fact that you can always pivot and follow your interests and life always serves you interesting little curveballs and detours and you never know where you might end up.

Carlos: It’s interesting too, for me, it was a story of figuring out what it was that I really – I don’t want to sound mystical here – but what was I put on this planet to do? What did I feel I was meant for, if that makes sense? It took me a long time. It took me decades, even after being a parent and raising a couple of kids, it finally became clear. I urge leaders at any level to be patient. Sometimes it takes us time to get to our core and our essence and to bring the best of ourselves. Certainly in my case that was true and I’m grateful for all the help I had along the way, of course, and the patience that people showed as I figured myself out.

Halelly: Very interesting. And you an author and running a consultant company, and on the side you are a yoga instructor I believe, as well?

Carlos: That’s true.

Halelly: A very multifaceted renaissance man, but let’s talk about some of the ideas in your book. The book is called Lessons from Mars. It’s about your time, as you said you’ve been with Mars, Inc., for a long time, and as you worked there, you developed a framework for how to collaborate on teams. You say that there’s a new approach to teamwork and collaboration that’s needed because lots of organizational time and money is wasted on notions of team building and effectiveness that aren’t worth it. Tell us more.

Carlos: One quick note, I left Mars at the end of 2017, but 17 terrific years and set out on my own and it’s been great. I was doing traditional team building stuff for a long time. I worked at DDI, we talked about that, and while I was there I learned the basic techniques they use. Most of it based on conventional team effectiveness models such as the Tuckman Model, the four stages. I’m sure you and your TalentGrowers are familiar with – forming, storming, norming and performing. The idea is that teams move through these predictable stages. I was using this and I used it at DDI and I used it a bit at IBM and certainly at Mars, it was the standard, or one of the standards. They use several. There was always this inkling that there was something that was off about it, a little bit, and I’ll have to tell you a story about this – I was working with, Mars has a small horse care business. Actually, it’s not just horses. They make llama feed and guinea pig food in a little factory in central Ohio. I was out there consulting to the group that was running this small business and they had a few team consultants come through. Mars had been using an external firm that used Tuckman’s four stages as the center of its work, but they’d been through two or three of these workshops. I come in as the internal guy, trying to save a few bucks and use the internal guy, and that’s kind of why I took on the role. Some teams at Mars weren’t big enough to afford some of these external consultants. I come in and I do what I do. I interviewed all the team members. I gave them all a survey. I collected all that data, summarized it into a report that I anonymize and I brought it into the team as a beginning of a two-day workshop with them of how we could make them a better team.

On the morning of day one, I hand out this little report that I’ve created and I asked them to go off in two groups of three and think about what they see in the data. One of the questions I always ask is, “So, what stage of development is your team in?” They came back after 20 or 30 minutes and were doing their report out and answered a few other questions about what’s working and what’s not. One of the groups came back and said, “We’re definitely at stage three. We’re in the forming stage. Starting to really come together.” The other group said, “No, we’re at stage one.” I thought, “Okay,” and facilitated a conversation. How do we find common ground? Those two stages are really pretty different. No surprise, they landed at stage two. They kind of met in the middle and I explained to them what these stages were a bit more and my impression was also they were sort of a stage two team, where the conflict was beginning to bubble up. That storming was really quite visible as I talked to them individually about what was going on.

They land on stage two and then one of these guys – and it was all guys – speaks up and says, “Hang on a second. You’re like the third or fourth consultant that’s been through here with us. Every time we’re at the same spot. We’re always stage two. So either we’re terrible or your model doesn’t work or something is off. But it just doesn’t seem right.” And I thought, “You know, he’s got a point.” Because as I reflected on all the teams I’d worked with, the reason they were bringing me in was because they were storming. We need the external help. And I thought, “This is frustrating. Why is everybody stuck?” Either I’m really bad at what I do or maybe – and this didn’t occur to me until later – the model isn’t helpful. Again, it’s a foundational tool. I do some teaching at local universities and when they do a course for their business students on teams, I guarantee you Tuckman is in there. I had to think hard about it, but that’s kind of what I call progressive team model that assumes you’re moving in a kind of linear way through stages.

Going to give you a little background. That model – I don’t want to get too technical here because we want to be about getting stuff done – but that model, people don’t know this, it was based on Tuckman’s analysis of 50 scholarly articles about therapy groups.

Halelly: Wonderful. Totally applies with that.

Carlos: Therapy groups, how much is the average Mars team or corporate team like a therapy group? Look, you can make some jokes about that I suppose, but I don’t have an annual goal I have to hit. You don’t do performance management in a therapy group. You’re not trying to keep your people motivated and engaged in a therapy group. It’s totally different. Why should it make sense in a business setting, especially in this day and age when stuff changes so fast. One of the pre steps of Tuckman is, as soon as there’s a big change in the team – a new member, a new leader, a new strategy – the team goes back to stage one performing. For crying out loud, at Mars and other companies I’ve worked with, teams go through significant changes like that every three months. So how frustrating is that? We’re always in stage one or two. How is that helping them grow? What I realized is we needed something else, and I’d done the research and what became clear to me was, we need to give managers and their teams something they can actually do about this.

There’s an old saying I heard from a manager of mine years ago, weighing the pig doesn’t make it any fatter. The four stages is like weighing the pig – oh, you’re stage two. Good luck with that. Most people will go do some trust building exercises or something, but that doesn’t tend to produce real results. I’ve got some fancy papers on the subject. What it turns out teams need is something to do. They’re action oriented, usually. They want to feel like they’re making progress, so what we developed is a framework and there’s a whole piece I haven’t gotten into about motivation, but it’s a framework that says, look, here are six practices. If you do these things and make them regular practices, you can feel like you’re focusing your collaboration where it really matters and that’s key, satisfying that innate drive people have to get stuff done. You can build trust through doing that, through doing real work rather than doing a ropes course or a paintball party. That’s what we moved toward, a pragmatic and practical approach to what can these folks do together? What decisions can they make? What choices can they make that will help them feel like they’re using collaboration better and better as they work together more and more?

Halelly: We can probably scratch the surface in this conversation, because I’ve created a time constraint of 30 minutes for my podcast and so things like this, very robust, probably will take longer. But I know we can deliver lots of information even within this timeframe that will help folks. I think that as TalentGrowers are listening to you, they’re like, “Yeah, man, what can we actually do?” In your book you describe the framework of course and you describe the research you did. It’s really fascinating, and the framework you created and that has been successful at Mars and that you have helped others use elsewhere and do in your book, you have a whole portion in your book about how you help people modify for their own organization, you say there are three imperatives and six practices. So, let’s give a broad overview of these. Again, the whole goal for us is what can folks really do?

Carlos: I want to get to that as quickly as we can. The imperatives don’t help you know what to do. What they do is they describe what teams need. Just quickly they are clarify, intentionality and discipline. The whole point of this framework is to develop more intentionality, that second one. Teamwork is generally treated as an attitude or a mindset. So be a good team player. Let’s be a great team. Let’s go do team. Intentional collaboration says, “Wait a minute. Let’s be thoughtful about where we need to collaborate and what we need to collaborate on, and let’s make some real firm agreements about it so we can be accountable for it and we can build it into our performance management. Let’s make a collaboration something we can be accountable for.” That’s intentionality. Be intentional about it. To get that, you need clarity and clarity connects back to a couple of words I just used. You need to understand why your collaboration matters, because sometimes you don’t actually need collaboration to get stuff done. Why should we collaborate? Big deal. You also need to understand if there is a why to your collaboration, what work specifically requires you to collaborate, and as importantly, which work does not? That’s your clarity. That helps people be intentional with each other about where they will collaborate. Finally, you need a little discipline. You need some team processes. How are we going to meet? How often are we going to meet? What the agenda is going to include and what not? And how will we keep learning? That’s a big one. What’s our discipline around stopping and asking ourselves how this is going?

Those three things – clarity drives intentionality and it’s all supported by discipline – those are the big needs. Got it?

Halelly: Yes.

Carlos: What we developed to fulfill those needs are six practices. I’m going to use the Mars words, but they’re generic terms – people will find them in the book – but there’s inspire purpose and crystalize intent. Those two are about the clarity of the why and the what. They address the clarity imperative. Then we talk about cultivate collaboration, that’s practice number three. Cultivate collaboration is where we get intentionally with each other. We figure out where the collaboration needs to be and where it doesn’t need to be. Where it’s important, we sit down and talk about it and we do some contracting with each other. I’ll do this if you do that. I’m good at this sort of stuff and I’m not so good at that. You’re better at that, so you do that and I’ll do this. That kind of conversation. That’s cultivate collaboration. It’s also going to start to involve a little bit of trust building. Cultivate collaboration is the intentionality practice. It’s the one practice that is focused on intentionality.

Then discipline shows up in two practices – activate ways of working and sustain and renew. Activate ways of working is all about team process. It is where we say, “Okay, what meetings do we need to have that align with our purpose, our big why, and align with the work we’ve agreed that needs collaboration, the what? Let’s set those up and make sure we only meet where it makes sense. And then let’s do our work where we need to.” How will we make decisions? Which pieces of work need collaborative decision-making and which don’t? How will we stay connected between meetings in ways that really matter? I don’t want to be bothering you every other hour with a “what” or a text. Let’s talk about how we’ll stay connected. That’s part of discipline, but also then this sustain and renew practice. That’s the learning one. How will we create a rhythm of learning in our team? How often will we pause, ask ourselves “What are we doing well? What’s working? How well are we living our purpose? How well are we honoring the commitments we’ve made? And where do we need to get better? Where can we improve?”

I’ve just given you five of the six practices. The sixth practice is kind of a wrap around. If you see the graphic, it’s a circle and the words “clarify context” go around the outside. That’s another clarity one, but we only use that at times of change. What we mean by that? Clarify context means every team needs to understand its organizational reason for being. We know we’re in the R&D function, but what are they asking of this group specifically? What does the strategy say we need to focus on? What is a real business reason for being how we are in service to the larger organization? That’s usually pretty stable so it’s not a practice you do on a regular basis like activate ways of working around meetings and such, or cultivate collaboration around relationships. It’s more about when we’re going to transition or change, and how might we need to adapt or adjust? Those six practices, those are the key. Those are the things we teach teams, and with each practice, as you’ll have seen in the book, there are tools. We have a practical step-by-step approach for how to do each of those things.

Halelly: In the book there is appendixes where you really lay out step-by-step templates that people can actually use to walk themselves through this model and put it to action, which I really appreciate.

Carlos: That’s the goal. It’s about giving people stuff they can actually rather than just worry about what stage they’re in.

Halelly: Exactly. Amen. I was really intrigued when you described that one of the problems that we have with the way that we’ve been teaching teamwork and our aspiration toward collaboration is that it seems like we’re saying we’re ignoring a key aspect of human nature and you refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and you’re saying there is a sort of drive for self interest and that organizations inherently – or at least today’s organizations and the past organizations – are inherently angled toward satisfying individual needs and that people in work are measured in ways that are related to their individual effort and therefore when we ask them to collaborate in teams, there’s a sort of conflict of interest almost.

Carlos: It’s fascinating, and it’s not a new thing. People have been talking about this for a while. We hire individuals, we pay individuals, we promote individuals. We recognize individuals. But there are posters on the wall that say, “Be a good team player.” “There is no I in team.” You go down the list. “Together, everyone achieves more – TEAM.” That does create this cognitive dissonance, to use a fancy word. What’s really interesting about it, and this is where the real unlock came in all of this, one of the things I learned at IBM was about motivation, so Maslow’s hierarchy is a model that motivates people. There are other models and one that I learned at IBM, but as I thought about the population of people at Mars, Mars like most companies hires good people. They find the best people they can, they give them meaningful work and they set them loose and say, “Go do it.” And these people are really motivated, results-driven, action-oriented people. You and I probably know a lot of these people in the various places we spend time. Results-oriented, action-oriented, and they’ll tell you – I interviewed hundreds of people and the thing I kept hearing over and over again was, “Carlos, I know we should collaborate more. I’ve seen the posters on the wall. I went to the Myers-Briggs workshop. I get it. But, we just don’t.” And I say, “But why?” And first there was befuddlement, but then they’d say, “Look, Carlos, there’s an old saying. If you want something done right, you do it yourself.” Right?

These people want nothing more than to do things right. That's what they’re paid for. That’s what they’re recognized for. What we recognized was, the question I ended up asking myself was, okay, if that’s the reality, is there a way we can make collaboration feel like just another thing that they need to achieve? That will speak that individual results-focused action orientation. How can collaboration feel that clear and that specific, so that it satisfies what’s really an innate need to do what you’re driven to do? As soon as we asked that question, things started to fall into place. The clarity imperative is really speaking to, okay, I want you to collaborate. It’s not just about be a generically good team player. It’s about here’s why collaboration matters around this particular piece of work or this department. Here is the specific work that will require your collaboration. Here’s the precise person or two you will need to collaborate with. Suddenly, you’re speaking in such clear, specific terms that these action-oriented, driven people will go, “Okay, I get that. You’ve given me some real boundaries and clarity. Now that feels to me since I know what it is, I can act upon it.”

Halelly: And I think that even at your – I’m looking for the word you used, not the imperative – the practice of cultivate collaboration, as you were saying, you specify where collaboration is needed. In other words, the person who is leading the team and creating this clarity needs to think very specifically about the scope of where collaboration needs to begin and end, and where it’s not necessary for the work to be achieved.

Carlos: That not necessary thing, that is so liberating. Because people see the posters on the wall and they go to the team building events and it’s not really clear what that’s supposed to mean, but leave me to do my own thing and it’s like, “This just feels good. I’m good at marketing or I’m good at developing new flavors or I get to do my thing.” And that’s so fulfilling and I’m going to say freeing for people. Now, they’ll collaborate where it makes sense, where it’s important, where the why and what are clear, and the who, but also, it’s great to be given your own space.

Halelly: And it’s up to us as leaders to do the thinking, but then the communicating to create that clarity for them. We’re quickly running out of time and I really wanted you to share one of your favorite tips or tools from the so many that are in the book.

Carlos: The one that is the big unlocker for people, where I get the greatest satisfaction, is what we call the radar screen. The radar screen answers that question, “What specific work requires collaboration and what doesn't?”

Halelly: I’m glad we’re talking about that.

Carlos: It’s real simple. Picture three concentric circles. We usually put these up on the wall so it’s about three feet wide and we draw them on big pieces of what paper. And we give everybody little sticky notes. What we’re going to do is determine which pieces of work we have amongst us as a group that require the entire group to collaborate, the whole team? If any, by the way. Sometimes there are none. But which pieces of work require us to collaborate all of us. That would go in the center circle. Some people call this the bulls eye, goes right in the center of the bulls eye. The second ring out is those pieces of work that require collaboration among subsets of us. Two of us, maybe three of us, who need to collaborate on this, that or the other. And you write down the project on the sticky note and put the names of the people and stick it up there. The outer ring is the ring for the work that can and should be done by competent, capable individuals. Right away what you’ve said is, “Here’s the map of our collaboration. The stuff in the center,” and by the way we usually encourage people to limit it to two or three.

Halelly: Two or three types of work or projects or?

Carlos: Two or three discreet projects or initiatives, yes. We use that language. It’s not general responsibilities. It’s this project that has this expected outcome. It’s that initiative that’s going to be done by this date and have this deliverable. Two or three of those at the center, maybe four. The second ring out, again, projects and initiatives, each one has two or three, maybe four names against it, and the outer ring individual. The key to this exercise – and it’s all explained in the appendix – is that it’s a conversation. Someone will pick up one of their sticky notes and say, “Here’s project A and it’s going to go at the center because it needs all of our smarts and creativity and intelligence. We have to do it together.” The person sitting to their right may disagree with that. They may think, “No, no, that’s still early stages. We haven’t even framed that project yet. We still don’t know what the exact outcomes are going to be, what the budget is. We think that needs to go to the outer ring where you’re going to draft a proposal that you’ll bring back o the team.” This happens, every sticky gets some of the discussion where the team finally, after a conversation of 90 minutes or so, has this radar screen filled out and the levels of collaboration are where they need to be. It’s not that we know exactly at the beginning where everything goes. It’s a discovery process and a discussion process. Which is engaging for the team. It helps people feel heard and feel like their opinion counts. But it also has the added benefit of telling the team, “Here is where we need meetings, the center circle, stuff we need collaborated on, and everything else doesn’t necessarily need the whole team to be present for. We can schedule our meetings based on what’s at the center. We can think about decision making based on whose names are on these stickies and that sort of thing.”

This exercise, and you have to give it some time, as I say in the book a couple of hours maybe, is – I’ll use that word again – liberating for people because they’re like, “Oh my goodness, I don’t have to collaborate on everything, I don’t have to think teamwork on every single responsibility I’ve got. A couple of things absolutely. Other things are going to be left to me.” So it creates a kind of clarity that’s really helpful.

Halelly: I like it. It creates clarity. I think it creates empowerment and ownership and it sounds like because of the way that it’s structured, it’s something you could do again when you’re doing clarify context, that you were describing when there’s change.

Carlos: Such a good point. The word I use, again, it’s probably too fancy, it’s an organic thing. You’ll do it on the second Tuesday of a month. A month later, stuff may have changed. We’ve talked about how stuff changes a lot.

Halelly: So you can renegotiate it.

Carlos: You may need to take some stuff off entirely because it’s finished. Some new work may have come in. What I encourage teams to do and managers to do is take a look at it once a month and probably revisit it seriously every quarter.

Halelly: Great. I love that. That’s very, very actionable and prescriptive. Thank you, Carlos, for that. Well, we always include one actionable tip also at the end, but this was really not a tip. It was a structure tool. So what’s new and exciting for you on your horizon these days?

Carlos: You know what I’m busy trying to figure out, and it’s going to sound perhaps weird? It’s trust. I’ve gotten really interested. There are a lot of folks out there talking about psychological safety, talking about the importance of trust. I think we throw the word around a little bit like teamwork, a little too loosely. I want to be helpful in helping people and teams understand the role trust plays in groups and collaboration and how you can get there. I’m all about the tools. I want to give people, and it goes beyond things like the Myers-Briggs exercises or the ropes courses. There are some really differing views on it so I’m really interested today in trying to reconcile some of these differences. I’m talking to some professors and some authors about it and I’m trying to convene a little workshop around this at some point. But I think if we’re going to really help teams and the people in them and who lead them, we can do more in this space that’s more practical and more coherent.

Halelly: Very interesting.

Carlos: That’s what I’m excited about these days.

Halelly: I’d love to hear more about it as you develop it further. I’m very interested in this topic as well. Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Paul Zak from Claremont Graduate University?

Carlos: Yes. Only vaguely.

Halelly: I really like his book, Trust Factor, and he was on the show, episode 56, so TalentGrowers, go check that out. Super fascinating and he draws blood from people and measures oxytocin levels and stuff like that. Very science based, but also he gives some advice about how to build it. So, as we wrap up, we always leave the TalentGrowers with one specific, super-actionable thing that they can do today, tomorrow, this week, to upgrade their team leadership skills. What should they do?

Carlos: Get clear with your team about the why and the what of their collaboration. Sit down and ask yourself, and in fact, ask your team, “Why is our collaboration important? How does our collaboration create value over and above the sum of our individual efforts? How could our collaboration create value over and above the sum of our individual efforts?” Answer that question. Because if it won’t, don’t bother. If you’re better as a group of individuals, that’s cool. Do it. Ask that why question. And then if it turns out that your collaboration can create value over and above your individual efforts, then go to that radar screen exercise and answer the what – which specific projects and initiatives will benefit from it and which won’t? If you just do that, you’re going to put your team miles ahead in terms of their sense that they have some agency and they have some control over where they’re going to spend their time and how they’re going to spend their time and really understand the power that collaboration can bring to a group.

Halelly: Nice. That of course will affect their motivation, their engagement and their productivity. Thank you so much for spending some time on the TalentGrow Show. I know people are going to want to learn more from you and about you. I’ll like to your book in the show notes and where else, where should they look to stay in touch?

Carlos: You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to accept invitations there. My corporate website is CorporateCollaboration.com.

Halelly: Will do. I’ll link to that. And with that, thanks again for your time today.

Carlos: This has been a great pleasure. Thanks for your excellent questions.

Halelly: Oh, I appreciate that. Thank you. Okay, TalentGrowers, I hope you enjoyed this episode and my conversation with Carlos. I certainly found it very stimulating and of course there’s so much more to cover on this topic and Carlos has so much more in his book. I hope you’ll check it out. I want to know what you thought about it. I want to hear your feedback, so definitely let me know. You can write a comment on the show notes page, you can write a comment on social media where I’ve shared this, or you can send me an email, private messages on social media, or even leave a voicemail on my website, TalentGrow.com. There is a little black tab on the right on every page that you can access from any device and leave me a voicemail. In fact, if your voicemail contains a comment, a suggestion, a question that I can use with good audio and your permission, I can even play it on a future episode of the TalentGrow Show. Wouldn’t that be cool?

This is it for another episode of the TalentGrow Show. I am Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow, the company that I founded in 2006 to develop leaders that people actually want to follow. And TalentGrow sponsors the TalentGrow Show so that you can learn for free from me every Tuesday about leadership, self leadership, leading others and communication skills in the workplace to help you be a better leader. Thanks for listening. I appreciate you and until the next time, make today great.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.


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Intro/outro music: "Why-Y" by Esta

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