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  • Writer's picturegaurimaini

Fuelling High Performance

Peter Hawkins talks about the five disciplines of teams - a powerful framework that can help unlock capacity for generative work and fuel high performance.

I worked with a CEO recently who had a clear mandate to turn performance around. The organisation had just received their AON Hewitt Engagement Survey results - 41% employee engagement and an alarming 21% active disengagement. The CEO had been quick to respond to the feedback and had initiated a systematic, inclusive communication process that led to a significant improvement in the organisational climate. He invited me in to support his efforts.

Individually, the team members were proficient in managing their stakeholders and leading their function, however they had concerns about trust.

I designed a discovery process that allowed the team to appreciate each other’s values, desires and strengths. This would be foundational to build trust and create a pathway for the team to actively leverage their cognitive diversity.

The program was intended to create an immersive experience that would facilitate deep thinking and reflection, making it safe for the team members to have generative dialogue. This psychological safety would be key to create the learning required by the team to grow its collective capacity.


The first workshop was a powerful deep dive into personal values and aspirations. Structured personal reflection, paired conversation and group work was used to develop and refine personal and team leadership brand that provided clarity and energised the team.

This then led into a more intense session on thinking styles using the Life Styles Inventory (LSI). The LSI is a powerful tool that is based on the premise that we have the freedom to choose how we respond to stimuli and that we can flex our thinking styles to respond more effectively to what is presenting. The team experienced firsthand the expansiveness of constructive thinking styles and the power of feedback anchored in unconditional positive regard.

The second workshop was focused on developing emotional agility. The Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) was used as a basis for creating awareness of the importance of recognising, using, understanding and managing emotions in self and others. This was an immersive experience with structured peer coaching and personal reflection to generate personal insights.

The third workshop was a re-measure of the LSI and a consolidation of the learnings over the two years that we had been working together. The intention of this workshop was to primarily create awareness of the power of compassion to self and others, establishing also the business case for “being in the blue” as those with experience using the LSI might say. In a fast paced, playful session, team members shared their top strengths (measured via the strengths survey) with each other, how they enjoyed using these in their work and eliciting feedback from the team on which strengths would be of most value in the team. Peer coaching was used to share insights and develop plans that would build personal capacity for taking on challenges using the Performance Pyramid.


The personal effectiveness of the team as a collective improved significantly on the Self-Actualising and Achievement Thinking Styles; reflective of confidence and self-efficacy, a clear sense of purpose, shared values and a growth mindset. There was also a significant improvement in the Humanistic- Encouraging thinking style, which is indicative of an unconditional positive regard for self and others.

There were several observable positive changes in the way the team connected; an elegance and kindness with which difficult conversations happened amongst the team and an abundance of intention to listen deeply to each other.

The CEO believes that the business performance improved significantly as the team gained confidence and became more unified. They made decisions quickly, creating powerful arguments and a shared team position on crucial business issues. Several performance indicators improved despite a difficult environment:

  • Market share doubled over two years

  • Net Sales Value grew from GBP141.4m in 2015 to GBP155.4m in 2017

  • Operating Profit increased by 34%

  • Employee Engagement improved from 41% to 64% in two years

  • Employee turnover reduced to 3% from over 10%

  • The work environment exudes confidence, passion, self-belief and a willingness to deliver.

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