Can You Use The Leadership Compass With Teams?

We’ve all got different behavioural tendencies when it comes to communication. And we move frequently between different Leadership Compass quadrants in different contexts, as our friend Rupert has shown.

So surely, the Leadership Compass is going to be difficult to apply in team situations – right?

Fortunately, leaders, it doesn’t have to be! In this blog, I’ll show you how you can use this versatile tool to visualise your own team dynamics, manage interactions, and create a positive, healthy, and effective environment for collaboration.

Navigating in a Team Setting

“Teams need collaboration and opposition to create fire, creativity, and innovation.”

We get together in diverse teams for good reason, not least because disparate opinions, experience, and skillsets help us synergize. And yes, this creates different communication and interaction preferences, which may initially seem complex to manage.

But observe group dynamics over time, and you’ll notice that teams frequently fall into certain patterns – people more inclined toward active or passive behaviour, and similar.

With this in mind, leaders will find it much easier to use the Leadership Compass, together with the Mind Growing Leadership ABCs for healthy decision-making and collectively beneficial results.

Using the Leadership Compass and New Leadership ABCs

As I’ve discussed in my previous post, there are three critical elements to building a high-performing team.

These are:

  • Ambition – A well-understood, mutual purpose, the basis for collective and individual goals.
  • Boundaries – Structure, defined by a clear playing field, laying out limits for people and giving them autonomy.
  • Culture and Coaching – In the context of the Leadership Compass, this relates to how teams and organisations handle opposition and competition. Do we have healthy, constructive conflict? Or if not, how can we get there? In answering these questions, communication is key!

Leadership Compass Teams

So now, how can you use your understanding of the Leadership Compass and Mind Growing Leadership ABCs to influence team dynamics?

Here’s an example we can work with – let’s consider your own team!

Consider Your Team

In Mind Growing, I share some practical tactics in Chapter Eleven: Core Intervention Skills. Let’s explore how to spot and change patterns of communication, and how you can manage or avoid ineffective, overactive behaviour patterns.

Spotting and Changing Patterns

It’s normal to have patterns of active-passive behaviour in your team.

For example, Ursula and Tal may tend frequently toward proactive Yellow behaviour, offering ideas and suggestions. Ricky, however, might often be found nodding along: “That’s great, why not!”

If you’d love to hear more from Ricky, it’s possible to do a few things. Such as:

  • Point out these ineffective patterns. Try creating more transparency, for instance by suggesting: “Ricky, I remember you have experience in this area – what do you think?”
  • Lower the threshold for participation. Perhaps Ursula is frequently showing Green or Blue quadrant behaviours. In this case, you as a leader can make it easier for her to contribute by starting a little smaller. For instance, pass around an object, and give everyone two minutes to share their idea uninterrupted while holding it.
  • Offer feedback. Along with transparency, feedback is also an important part of communication. Provide clarity where it is conducive to better team dynamics: “Tal, I feel as though Ahmad might love a chance to share his thoughts. Shall we try that?”

Deactivating Ineffective Behaviour

With opposition and competition, we sometimes see defensive or opposing (Red) behaviour.

Handling differences of opinion for a more creative and collaborative – rather than destructive – culture, is a key skill for leaders.

If you notice Boundaries are being crossed, for example, people attacking one another, you can try:

  • Clarifying whether you share the same Ambition. Is their opinion about “How,” or “Why?” Discussing their viewpoints will frequently give you better insight into this.
  • Waiting it out. I’ve mentioned before – in communication and influence, actions always have reactions. Sometimes, these dynamics play out naturally without your intervention.
  • Stepping in. Sometimes, that team fire gets a bit too hot! If boundaries are clearly being crossed, it may be your job as a leader to step in. A private word later can go a long way to creating and maintaining a psychologically safe environment where teams feel comfortable disagreeing and sharing their opinions.

Over To You

Did you consider your own team when reading about Ursula, Ahmad, and Tal? Are you noticing any common patterns that play out in your workplace?

In Mind Growing, I provide even more activities and exercises that you can use to facilitate better collective dynamics, as well as understand your current culture and communication.

For now, I invite you to think about these team interventions – how might they help you and your colleagues in your organisation?