Fighting fit

Kanishka Sinha
Sep 05, 2012

A team cannot perform at its peak unless its members are willing to fight with one another.

High performing teams subject their discussions to Darwininan laws of survival – only the fittest suggestions are allowed to survive. This only happens when raw, unfiltered debate is the norm.

It is rare that everybody will agree on the final answer on a complex issue. If they did it wouldn’t be complex. In a highly functioning team, team members understand this. Since they have been willing to argue their opinions and hear those of others, they are willing to commit to the final decision even if it is at odds with their own point of view. Harmony and consensus are over rated. Great team players are willing to ‘disagree and commit’.

But in order to live happily in this sort of a performance culture, the members have to have an extremely high level of trust in one another. People in these sorts of teams believe that if someone is arguing with them, it is not to make them look bad, but because they want to get to the best solution for the team. And they believe that if they challenge someone else, that person will not take it as a personal attack, but as an invitation to look deeper and check their assumptions.

The conventional view is that you can only risk being honest with people you trust. Our point of view is that the causality works the other way around – if you risk being honest with people, you create trust. And you will only be willing to take that risk if you really care.

Do you care enough about your team to learn how to fight with them?