Tag Archives for " teams "

How do you ask questions?

Why do we ask questions?

I spent a week in Canberra recently with our latest group of seafood leaders.

I have reflected on that week of passion and pressure questions were a common theme. But even looking at the photo I have questions.

  • What did Jeremy say to make 4 of the 18 look at him?
  • What was it about Matt that made him make that confused face in the front row?
  • And against all our pleading, how come Laura and Scott kept their sunglasses on?
  • And why did we ask them to do a silly photo?

These are the questions that run through my head all the time.

And if I pause just now there will be questions. Very quite questions in the background, that my mind is sorting with me barely conscious of that activity.

There will be more pressing task-type questions and more strategic why questions that sometimes the task questions push away from my brain power.

Where do those strategic questions go that get ignored go I wonder? Bloody hell – there’s another question!


Have you ever wondered about questions and the impact they have?

Have you ever paused and thought about how you are constructing your questions to get the answers you are seeking?

Now that might seem like what? But it is important to spend your brainpower brownie points on thinking about how to construct questions.

So back to our champion graduates last week in Canberra.

We spend 6 months working with these wonderful people. Honing their skills, stretching their capacity, supporting their activities, providing them with leadership opportunities.

On the second day of the six months we shared with them some of the theory of questions – the how . And we encouraged them to ask the question for the answers they were seeking.

Now that might seem a little manipulative on first reading and it may sound like ask the question you already know the answer. But that is not the case.

Interpreting knowledge

Interpreting some knowledge shared by MaryJo Asmus it would appear that if we ask open thought provoking questions this happens.

  1. 1
    Neuroplasticity of our powerful brain kicks in and we start making sense and have expanded insight.
  2. 2
    The whole brain gets involved as we reflect on what has been asked and we move forward the answer (or potentially another question).
  3. 3
    We get a hit of serotonin (a rush of energy) as our brain sees that we should be moving and doing something new.

So, ask an open-ended, insightful question. Why? Because the brain lights up and expands and will find new pathways and meaning to discover the solution.

Ask questions that open people to new thinking. And construct your questions in ways that will give everyone that brain activity. What a gift!

Asking questions that evoke responses

Back to the leadership graduates.

Although they had spent time asking questions it was not until the second last day that they really fired. Asking questions of industry leaderships that evoked the above responses.

How did that happen?

Well, firstly because we kept at them about getting their questions honed. And it also happened because, as a group, they got organised and mapped the questions they would ask.

  • What they wanted to know
  • Who they needed to ask
  • How they would word their questions

It was magic.

Create brain magic with your questions. Ask the questions that you want answers to that make all our brains expand. 

celebrate achievements

Celebrating Achievements

Celebrating Achievements

Delighted, elated and proud! 

That is how we feel when we are celebrating achievements and success of our graduates. 

August has seen many award evenings take place all over the country. Let's celebrate and recap these outstanding achievements.  Beginning in the top end...

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Seafood Industry Awards was a memorable evening for Chris Calogeras. Chris received a nomination for a place in the National Hall of Fame. What a tremendous honor for Chris and his commitment, dedication & hard work in the Seafood Industry acknowledged.

Chris also graciously accepted on behalf of Affectus an award for Highly Commended in the People Development Award. Thank you Chris. We couldn’t be more proud of your achievements and to have you represent Affectus on our behalf.

Western Australia 

We then move to the west of the country to now celebrate and congratulate Justine Arnold. What a delight and honour to watch Justine on her journey towards making her mark in the seafood industry. Justine took home the WA Young achiever of the year award. Justine's commitment and infectious passion for the seafood industry will be sure to lead her to many more successes in her career. Congratulations on your achievements Justine!

Across the Tasman and back again

Now taking a dash across the Tasman to the NZ seafood conference where young Melbournian Josh Pearce also obtained the Young Achievers Award. Josh's commitment to the seafood industry in Australia and New Zealand is evident with his meticulous eye for detail in all aspects of his business and leadership practice. Josh also won the Victorian Young Achievers Award in the  Seafood Industry Victoria Awards. With a focus on a sustainable, ethical and traceable business philosophy, Josh has earned himself  a reputable place in the future of the Australian and New Zealand seafood industry. Well done Josh!

Also in Victoria

Also at the Seafood Industry Victoria Awards, Gary Leonard, a graduate of our Catch the Drift Program won the Industry Ambassador Award. Gary Leonard is a generational fisherman in the Gippsland Lakes. He has done his utmost to ensure that the seafood consumers of Victoria, have access to the freshest, healthiest, most sustainable and ethically caught seafood possible. Congratulations Gary on having such a positive impact on your industry. 

New South Wales

Josh Cook one of our NSILP graduates from 2018 won the Young Acheivers award at the Sydney Seafood Excellence Awards. Josh and the team at Coffs Habour took home so many awards they needed a removalist van.  Josh is passionate about understanding the industry on a national scale and from other angles (eg fishing, conservation & legislation) and being at the forefront of positive changes that can be adapted by all. We'd say he's certainly achieving that. Congratulations Josh. 

And to Brisbane

And at the Australian Prawn Farmers Association night of nights in Brisbane, the 2019 Award for INFLUENCER (and women in aquaculture) who have made an outstanding contribution to the Australian prawn farming industry was awarded to our very own Affectus' Managing Director, Jill Briggs. 

Congratulations Jill, we are all very proud of your achievements and your commitment to people, teams and leadership! 

And to top off the month of awards, Affectus was the recipient of the People Development Award in Tasmania, Victoria, a finalist in NSW and highly commended in the Northern Territory.

Above all, a big congratulations to all the award winners. Enjoy and be proud of celebrating your achievements!

PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?

Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.

Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

Communication and Leadership

Communication and Leadership

A week of conversations

Does life come in patterns for you?

Sometimes Affectus has waves of related activities. This is sometimes due to the calendars of others, such as the award season we have just been through and sometimes it feels random.

Sometimes it is weeks of planning such as our two weeks of intense planning for Ready.

Or it's weeks of facilitation with our face-to-face and virtual programs and workshops.

Does your year and months have waves of related activities?

This week Affectus pattern has been a week of conversations.

  • New idea conversations
  • Planning conversations
  • Contract conversations
  • Supportive conversations
  • Giving conversations

These are just a few of the conversations themes we have had. Invariably, these conversations have resulted in us finding a way of assisting and building with others in our network.

I love weeks like this. And I will be sharing what happened in a few of our conversations and with some tips woven in about conversation.

Saturday nights “giving” conversation.

We are thrilled to have found a our place for Affectus to give.

In our search for places to give, we have strategically given money to start-ups, NGO’s and connected causes.

We have also been searching for a small organisation that is focused on similar concepts and with similar values to Affectus. And we have found them. Affectus is sponsoring the Murray Felines Football Club

Talking to the young women in this organisation was powerful.

The conversation focused on “We want to have fun but we want to support each other fully in our endeavours”. 

For Affectus that conversation was mostly listening and observing. However, it was also about asking some specific questions. Hearing leadership permeate their ideas was exciting and uplifting. Go Murray Felines!

The highlight conversation

What has been the highlight conversation this week for you?

The highlight of my week was a quiet, supportive conversation with one of our Alumni.

It started with a quiet, grabbed 2 minutes in a public space “it would be good to talk Jill.” And then it was loud and messy and a few others were wanting some of my attention.

I wanted to ascertain the urgency from our graduate as there seemed to be a high level.

"Now would be good". We tried but the environment was never going to let it really happen.

At the end of the short initial conversation I checked – did we get anywhere? "Yeah nah". Now that is hard to gauge but I settled on the “nah”. 

So the learning here is about the environment. 

What environment?

Tip 1 and 2

1. Create the environment that is needed for the conversation. AND 2. Find the time so that the conversation can happen.

My sense was the conversation wasn’t finished so I suggested we find another time to finish it off. We organised a time and environment that suit us both.

Has “it” been said?

Tip 3

Keep the conversation going. If what has to be said hasn’t been said then keep the conversation going.

In a more convivial space we had a 45 minute discussion that resulted in action and future support.

Conversation elements

No…I won’t leave it at that the conversation elements were lots of talking from our graduate. And lots of listening from me. 

Are you listening?

Tip 4

Clear your head of clutter so you can really listen.

Summing up

Summing up what I had heard to make sure I was capturing the key points. 

What are we talking about?

Tip 5

Focus. Somewhere during the conversation you need to establish two foci. 

  • What is the purpose of you being in the conversation
  • What is the other person wanting as an end point to the conversation

At this point it was clear that the initial part of the conversation was about letting some concerns and frustrations out.

And the next part of the conversation was about the graduate building their own path forward with some guidance from me. And we had found what the conversation was all about.

What is the purpose?

Tip 6

Is this just a chat or are we going to have an outcome?

It is really important somewhere in the conversation to understand the overall purpose and for it to be articulated. 

The conclusion

At the conclusion of the conversation it was clear there would be more conversations. And that we both need to go and do a bit of work for the graduate. But it was a constructive conversation. Some may call it coaching…I call it a constructive conversation with a friend.

NB – These tips don’t have to be in that sequence and there will be others. Getting the six ticked off will be valuable for you.

Are you interested in further developing your leadership?

Have you thought through what "next and better" looks like?

Affectus has developed a suite of leadership learning options to help you action your readiness.

Growing Teams

Growing Teams

Have you wondered about the key areas you need to consider when your team is growing?

When you think about your leadership and your people and times of change have you thought about where your focus should be?

I recently presented a speech in Brisbane about growing teams and here are my tips.

Firstly, you need to be conscious that during times of growth the team is disturbed. This disturbance can be large and highly unsettling or gentle moving forward.

Growing Teams Tip 1

Where is your team focused? You will need to have duel-focus.

Focus One - Find the people in your team who tend to focus on the future and new ideas – access their thinking during time of change and give their ideas airtime.

Focus Two - Assist the people in your team who think about details and getting tasks done. Ensure that during these times of change that they have tasks and roles that they can focus on.

By having these two foci during times of change your team is less likely to be tripped up by new developments because some in your team have their focus on the future and some of your team are focused on getting the existing tasks completed.

Growing Teams Tip 2 

How do you map thinking in your team?

There are many analysis tools to be found to help you with this.

At Affectus we use the Big Five, which provides people with an understanding about their personality and areas of strength.

This tool surfaces a number of traits. And two of these traits are openness and conscientiousness.

Finding the people with strong openness assists teams with future focus. And finding people with a drive for conscientiousness helps the team with getting the job done.

Find these people in your team during times of change and ask them to focus their energies in their areas of strength.

Growing Teams Tip 3

Have you thought about the team’s needs?

It is important to think about the business during times of growing. But it is also essential to consider the people in the business. 

We all find it hard to consider new ideas when we are feeling uncertain about our job security. Leadership is required in this complex space.

Providing an environment of security during times of growth (which may feel like disruption) will allow for people to remain their most productive selves.

PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?

Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.

Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

Teams and Individuals

Teams and Individuals

Our graduates receive a regular newsletter. Within each newsletter there is an article on leadership that we discuss and share our knowledge.

In our last newsletter we talked about teams and leadership.

I started the ball rolling with “What gender do you imagine when you think about a particular job/career/role?”. I distinctly remember this activity in the early 2000's. It was a fun and revealing thing to do.


  • What do you see when I say police, doctor, teacher, farmer?
  • What gender do you see?

It surfaced our (my) biases.

In our recent newsletter I explored this as a starting point for my discussion about teams and leadership. Why? Because it is interesting.

But this time I asked our graduates:

  • What do you see when you hear the words; leader, leadership, team leader?
  • What do you see?
  • Do you see different genders?

Why is this important to consider? 

And why has it occupied my thinking about teams and leadership these last couple of weeks?

I think it is important to consider because of the limiting nature of our personal biases.

If we see in our minds a particular image when teams and leadership are mentioned this will limit who we look for. And then we potentially do not see the people who are doing it differently from our norms.

By limiting ourselves we are missing opportunities. And in a rapidly changing world it is important to grab the right opportunities. Well I think so! I figure you do also.

When Affectus works with people, whether facilitating a small working team or a large organisation, the work we do is always about the individual.

It may be about a group changing their direction. But it is the individuals that has to make the change.

Limiting biases 

Therefore, if we are considering limiting biases then to start with ourselves (understanding me) is essential.

Do you know your limiting biases when you consider teams and leadership?

Are you part of a team stretching the boundaries? Have you had a fresh look at your team? Are you looking for newness? Do you know how to do this in your busy life?

Look-up. Wipe off the biases that will be limiting your view. See some difference.


OK so that all sounds a bit vague. Perhaps you need me to be a bit more specific.

These are the scenarios I see…over and over again. I'm guessing you will have seen them also.

Scenario 1 - Established team 
  • Know one another well
  •  Adhere to held biases
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Everyone does the same roll
  • A good outcome and deliver
Scenario 2 - Established team
  • Know one another well
  • Understand their biases may be limiting them
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Team decide to move the responsibilities around and see what happens
  • A little bit of chaos happens
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Good outcomes 
  • Individuals discover new things about the team and may rethink some biases
Scenario 3 - Established team
  • Know each other very well
  • Openly question norms and biases regularly
  • Very busy
  • Team gets a new task/job/project
  • Most/all roles and responsibilities are available to anyone
  • Chaos occurs regularly and the team know how to operate on the edge of chaose
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Good outcomes and new things are discovered about the team 
  • A good post-project review happens and further team development occurs
Scenario 4 - New team
  • Don't know one another much
  • Assumptions are made on general biases held
  • Team gets a task/job/project
  • No-one has a confirmed/held job
  • Chaos occurs and people are uneasy
  • No-one dies
  • Job gets done
  • Huge knowledge is built around the team
  • A good post-project review happens
  • Confirmation of biases are exposed
  • Further team development occurs

Which scenario is most familiar to you?

Affectus sees all the scenarios. But we experience Scenario 3 and 4 all the time.

And we see the richness that is created and the depth of understanding that is built. ​

New and amazing ideas are developed and presented to stakeholders.

Yes, occasionally we see stuff being flung off the fan (s**t). However, when we examine what is and has gone on in Scenario 3 and 4, mostly we witness each person focus on a leadership space that they can move into. And they do!

I don’t know about you but that is what I want when I work in a team. A team that comes together and sees the mental image that prevents people from stepping into their leadership space.

Have a look at our other blogs. The most relevant will be A Reflection Process  and Chaos and Leadership

PURE Breakthrough

Are you interested in further developing your leadership space?

Affectus is heading to Sydney in November to spend two days giving people the insights you need to step into the leadership spaces that you see.

Find out more and register your expression of interest. 

A golden conversation about healthy teams

A Golden Conversation about Healthy Teams

What are your teams?

I recently sat with a mum and dad, parents of a few young kids, employees and managers.  I observed their various obvious teams:

  • partners
  • family
  • work team
  • management team.

We are regularly in teams. And even when we are working independently, we are still often in a team.

What teams are you part of? 

Are they all effective and efficient?

As this mum and dad team chatted we uncovered their need to provide more opportunity to do some leadership development in their business and industry. It was a great conversation. I asked about how often they have undertaken a team review and developed a team enhancement plan.

When was the last time you consciously look your team through the lens of teams and leadership?

We explored short term wins, long term strategy and the desire to harness and continue to refresh the workers in the industry. A bit of a plan emerged that would respond to their need to keep their work team engaged and committed to their work. AND at the same time understand how their contribution to the workplace ensures the industry remains well respected.

I spent a bit of time talking about Affectus’ philosophy and why I do what I do. We spent some time connecting the needs of my potential client and the passion Affectus brings to assist people to step into their leadership space and change the world.

When was the last time you connected the passion of the workforce with a forward direction for your team?

It was a great conversation and both parties went home with homework to see if we could make magic happen. As I left the meeting and the handshakes were done I felt confident that I would be talking to this team about what we could provide.

It wasn’t until I got back to my desk and reflected on the conversation that I realised something else had happened.

There had been a secondary conversation about teams.

I had heard the team philosophy of a family, children and parents, through our initial conversation about holidays. My thoughts that afternoon were "what gold there was in both the conversations".


This is the learning I took from the meeting.

  • Draw on all your teams team experience. Encourage them to bring the external into the workplace to more fully understand teams.
  • Have a team leadership plan. Talk about and address the needs.
  • Review the team skills. Develop areas (new areas) for growth through professional development opportunities.
  • Understand your team “why”
  • Have a regular (and facilitated) team enhancement plan that is firmly connected to your teams “why”.

Building your healthy team

Are you interested in moving your team to performance, through understanding why and surfacing team skills?

Affectus has a simple session that will enhance your workplace and organisation. Email, admin@affectusaus.com.au for further information. 

Teams and other important things

Teams and other important things

Do you regularly see the activity where someone ask individuals or a group to visualise a particular career?

The questioner asks “think of a farmer - what did you imagine?” Careers that are regularly included are police, teacher, lawyer, pilot.

And although “leader” is not necessarily a vocation I still consider “think of a leader - what did you imagine?” This exercise can be revealing for us all.

Having worked in the field of developing leaders for nearly three decades, at Affectus, we are keen for people to see leaders differently.

We  have seen change. However the concept of team leadership can assist with our ability to shake up leadership in a way that will embrace the concepts of courage and vulnerability. We believe these concepts have always been part of leadership.

What is team leadership?

Team leadership is what leadership has always been about. Leadership may appear a solitary occupation and yes, sometimes, it can feel lonely but, we all know that leadership is always done with teams.

Margaret Meade said

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” 

We will come back to this concept and tie these ideas together.

Leadership is about taking those around you to a new visionary future. To do this we must be in an environment where risk is OK’d. and for this to happen vulnerability must be an observable behaviour and embraced as a team value.

So, what does opening yourself up to be vulnerable do? Let’s come back to that also.

Finally, leadership is also about courage. But what allows us to be courageous?

Teams, Vulnerability and Courage


  • leadership to happen
  • the group of individuals to change the world
  • any group anywhere
  • the team to be able to see the leadership space and be courageous to take action

...we need to let people have a go and be OK about making mistakes. And people need to be supported and encouraged by the team.

Can you see the connection?

Can you see how important it is for teams, vulnerability and courage to be the leadership environment? And when this environment exists all of us can be leaders -  everywhere in the space we see and choose.

The Leadership Environment

So now to the trickiest part in this the domain for us all.

Yes, we are all so good at this stuff. It may be some or all of the three elements.

Are these concepts essential? Well possibly not.  But from my years of experience these elements, (teams, vulnerability and courage), ensure that leadership flourishes.

These elements eliminate the false focus on the single person and perfection. Both of which are counterproductive for high performance.

This environment is the environment for all.

Be comforted in knowing that if Team, Vulnerability and Courage are the concepts that are highlighted and rewarded leadership will flourish.

And then the world will change and teams will flourish. And the image in our minds-eye of “Who is a leader?” will be amazing and will include you.

Starting your Team, Vulnerability and Courage 

Here are five tips to start your Team, Vulnerability and Courage environment. 

  1. 1
    Establish whether the unwritten norm is leader (singular) or leadership (team).
  2. 2
    Ensure visionary future been established by the leadership team.
  3. 3
    Introduce the concept of open sharing of vulnerability. "We all make mistakes". "We all need people to assist us" .
  4. 4
    Configure vulnerability in away that ensures people are supported. This is best done firstly by the chair/president/CEO/manager.
  5. 5
    Encourage courage. ”Yeah that is great have a go". "You know we have got your back". "Team leadership is our norm".

Summarising Teams – A Leadership Program Case Study

I want to paint a picture of leadership in action and teams getting to performance during the four days of intense leadership and industry activity.

In summarising teams, through this leadership program case study, I am going to refer to Tuckman’s Theory and illustrate what happened.

I have just arrived back in the office from working with a group of fourteen wonderful young leaders on Rottnest Island. It was such a privilege being in the orbit of their enthusiasm, focus and determination. They are the Next Wave 2018, a select but powerful group brought together under the management of Recfishwest and with the funding from WA Fisheries.


Many of the team knew each other. They had shared holiday destinations and a fishing passion prior to the commencement of the program. However no-one in the team that set-off for Rotto last Sunday knew everyone.  (Apparently Rotto is the local name – not Rotti).

The connection happened on some steps at Hillarys Habour. I always love watching these moments where people are stepping out of their comfort zone:

  • stretching out hands for shaking
  • finding safe topics to talk about
  • feeling uncomfortable during those pauses that always happen.

The group did a great job of making small talk but it was fascinating listening to safe topics and see the group structure start emerging.

Some self-identifying that this was hard work by finding very important things in the luggage that needed to be retrieved. The 14 did a great job and what became clear immediately was that there was lots of generosity in the group:

  • willingness to engage
  • extraverts ensuring the laughter happened early
  • openness as people integrated the more introverted in the group.

As we set off for the ferry terminal additional forming happened with people showing their strengths; finding people to walk with and talk to and others observing and being conscientious with luggage and extra equipment.


This stage happened in a more subtle way and I didn’t observe it all as sleep beckoned most of the evenings.

What was valuable to be reminded of is that when people are clear about the purpose the storming is minimal.

It was also fascinating to see how quickly a team can be slammed back into storming by external influences…fascinating. By halfway, through the second day, it was clear that storming was well on the way. People had formed smaller groups and some people were being somewhat silenced. How does this happen when the task is clear and the endpoint is known?

My observations are, that for some of the 14, the task and endpoint connected to their existing knowledge. But for others it was beyond their reach and relying on “the others” was difficult because they had only formed the previous day.

Courageous and strong personalities started to emerge and this allowed others to “hang in there” and be pulled along. It was so amazing to see the courage and trust emerge. Roles also started to appear…drivers, thinkers, writers, dreamers and more…some of these roles were embraced while others got squashed.


Norming emerged on Day 3. Who sat where; who spoke first; who listened before sharing input.

It was interesting at this stage to see how often the facilitators (that means me) stepped in to try and steer the team in the “right” direction. At this point, I had to keep checking myself and sit back down and pretend to work on my computer. It was important to let the team work out how do get to the end point with their own accepted behaviours rather than impose concepts. And they did emerge.

Encouragement was such a part of the team norms. I got emotional and had to take a walk when only 60 hours after slamming these people together I heard comments like

"Yep – we have all identified who could do with some support and stretching so we are assisting them in these areas."

Even demonstrations of trust and empowerment. Roles were shared, even though there were clear “keyboard wizards” in the group as they pounded away on laptops; eloquent speakers as they shaped key messages; and team monitors who set small (but then repeated) norms such as refreshments and sugar hits. But this mostly happened because the perceived leaders (the facilitators) stepped away and “gave back” giving the team freedom to find their functional norms and start really reaching for the end-point.


Performance happened on Day 4.

What happened? Well, the group delivered.

Extremely complex knowledge and dreaming were wrangled into coherent “this is what we need to do for our sector of the seafood/fishing community”.

And we all know what that looks like don’t we…

  • people having a go knowing that everyone (everyone, everyone) has their back
  • news ideas being embraced
  • people working their butts off even at the eleventh hour
  • checking that the endpoint is still where they are aiming

but mostly what I see, as someone who is passionate about people stepping into their leadership space, is:

  • courage plus vulnerability
  • strength through openness
  • insight with inclusiveness
  • leadership because of the team.

It was a great experience…I was humbled to be there at the endpoint when I heard laughing, backslapping, when I saw man-hugs and just-hugs…I felt happiness, satisfaction, achievement, joy and POWER within the 14.

Inspiring work Next Wave 2018.

Teams and Personalities

Is there a link between teams and personalities?

And what connection is there to leadership? What about the practicalities and the theories?

Have you ever done a personality profile? There are so many tools out there aren’t there! Perhaps it was Myer-Briggs, Hogan, LSI? Perhaps none of those is familiar. Or perhaps you have spent time at one of our events experiencing the power of The Big Five?

I see people’s fascination when I mention personality profile and I often wish I had a week to sit down and discuss the fascination of what makes us tick and our fundamentals.

This week I'm providing a quick “heads up” regarding teams and the connection with personalities.

The Big Five

The Big Five model of personality is widely considered to be the most robust way to describe personality differences and is the basis of most modern personality research.

When I first started reading about The Big Five some of the research indicated that the five traits were closely connected and tested against the society’s expected demonstrated behaviours of leaders. This drew me to The Big Five Inventory (leadership and Jill – who would have known).

And it has proved a vital tool. When we work with the diverse teams in our leadership events and programs the combining of teams and personalities is unavoidable.

What makes up The Big Five?

When analysing personalities the question is

What is the best way to summarise you?

Researchers have done this with many samples all over the world and five stand out:

  • extraversion
  • neuroticism
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
  • openness to experience.

The Big Five has been constructed to assess these five traits. We, and others, have relabelled neuroticism as confidence – nobody wants to score any numbers in the neurotic column, right!

Is understanding personality important?

Yep, you bet.

It does not put you in a box, as people have often suggested. Rather, it provides insight and understanding.

Understanding personality and teams, like most concepts that enhance your leadership knowledge and insight, are connected.

What are the connections? Well, let's look at teams first.

The highly respected, and constantly used, Tuckman’s Stages of Teams are:

  • forming
  • storming
  • norming
  • performing
  • adjourning.

Have a look at last weeks blog for some further detail about Tuckman.

Now, let's see where personality adds to team stages.

Layering The Big Five and Teams.


A time when members are getting to know one another, building an understanding of who is in the team.

The usefulness of all of the Big Five is valuable during Forming. However, one would stand out as highly prized during the very initial stage.

Extraversion – the ability to be energised by being in a group.

Can you see the value of adopting extraversion during this period?

The other Big Five trait that would be very useful during this stage is Openness – the willingness to take on new ideas and being open to newness.


A time when members can be testing the boundaries of the allotted task and are potentially vying for positions within the team.

When you consider The Big Five Confidence (low neuroticism) as a trait, the opportunity to remain calm and not get caught up in some of the game-playing that can occur during this stage would be a highly prized trait.


A period of time when team rules and accepted behaviours are sorted.

The ability to ensure that details are sorted and new ideas are heard and discussed. Here, the display of The Big Five Openness, Extraversion and Conscientiousness would be useful for the team.


And then there is Performing from Tuckman’s Teams. My observations, when I witness or experience teams performing, is that all The Big Five traits are being used effectively and efficiently.

  • extraversion
  • confidence
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
  • openness.

This is also the case for the Adjourning stage when the team is celebrating success, disbanding and look for new opportunities.

Questions to consider

From a leadership perspective these are the questions to consider:

  1. Have you stopped and watched your team?
  2. Have you looked and thought through this is what is happening here at the moment with this group of people?
  3. What development stage is the team at?
  4. Which of the Big Five traits are being displayed?
  5. And which could be helpful and assist?

 We run a Teams Intensive Workshop to help you build and turn your team into a performing team.

What are the theories about Team stages?

In 1965 Bruce Tuckman identified four stages of development that every team experiences. He suggested that all teams go through the first three stages before the final Performing stage.

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

His work has provided us all with decades of clarity and direction, ie, we know the stages and understand the complexity of each stage. Affectus says thank goodness for Tuckman and today we share what we know.

If you think through your times of working in teams (is there ever a time when you aren’t in a team?) you can understand the Tuckman stages. The four stages of Tuckman’s initial theory were Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Later Tuckman and Jensen added a fifth stage adjourning.

What does Tuckman provide?

What we all know about teams is that teams are not just about the job or the project or task.

Teams are about the people, and the process, and how we feel about the job, people and process.

This makes teams fun, dynamic, chaotic, frustrating, powerful and functional. And these are just some of the words used by our alumni over the years.

Tuckman understood these complexities. And the five stages were developed to include the three elements that he labelled as:

  • Content (the job)
  • Process (the functioning of the team)
  • Feelings.

By knowing these three elements, at Affectus, we have been able to observe teams in various stages and marvel at the leadership demonstrated by so many of the people we have worked with.

Perhaps these leaders know Tuckman and apply their knowledge? Or have had so many experiences that they just simply know? Or is it that they have an intuitive understanding? Whatever knowledge is available within the teams this is what happens during each of the stages.


Forming - when the team first meets each other.

The team shares information about their backgrounds, interests and experience and form first impressions of each other, and they are exposed to the job.

During this time they are treading lightly and wonder about how they might work together.

At Affectus we call this the honeymoon phase.

The team is very dependent on the person who appears to be the leader. Leadership is in process. Ensuring that the sharing of information happens, not just once, but that there is a regular "who are we/how are we" conversation.


Storming – when some edges become sharp.

Every team goes through this part of developing as a team. And for some of us, this stage may be our most enduring memories.

At Affectus we call this “the devil appears” stage.

Status and acceptance of difference of opinions will cause conflict within the team. Hence the Storming title. And sometimes you definitely see devilish behaviour surface.

The team, although usually unable to articulate this, is needing roles and responsibilities to be discussed and allocated. The leadership during this stage is about listening, adjusting and communicating about the developing and allocated roles.

Teams that get stuck here need a lot of leadership. While the focus may seem completely on the people and the processes and the feelings rather than the content…that is ok. It is a stage.


Norming – refining the process and get stuck into the content (the job)

When the team moves into the Norming stage, they are beginning to work more effectively as a team. They are no longer focused on their individual goals and others positions in the teams. Tthey are focused on developing a way of working together.

The leadership here is to ensure that the focus on “how we work together” secures the development of respectful, productive processes and not “norms” that will create power imbalances or unproductive unwritten activities.

Great teams are enabled by personal leadership to monitor this stage and to be reflective.


Performing – we are there!!

When a team moves into the Performing stage, they are high-functioning and are focused on getting the content ticked – the job done.

I have been a part of many teams who are in Performing. It is like high energy, trusted team members, edge to chaos seeking activities, and confidence that the job is being done. It is WOW!

If you would like to enhance your understanding of teams to get your team to WOW, our Teams Intensive Workshop will assist you with answering “What do I do if my team is stuck in forming, storming and norming?”

What is a team?

When defining "What is a team," the business dictionary says a team is

A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project.

Team members:

  1. operate with a high degree of interdependence
  2. share authority and responsibility for self-management
  3. are accountable for the collective performance
  4. work toward a common goal and shared rewards(s).

A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.

Teams are not simple!

Gosh, that above definition sounds simple(ish) and seems to suggest “so come on what is your problem, this is all obvious and easy”.

When you look at teams there are functional to dysfunctional teams. There are once-was-functional to almost-there-functional. And there is everything in between.

So how do you assist teams to move into functional, whether they are new or old teams?

We will be discussing teams over the coming weeks, developing the four stages below in a more detailed manner.

A foundational theory of Teams

This theory is an old one and a good one - Tuckman’s theory of teams.

There are many others but this theory is practical. What I mostly love is that you can see it. And I know how valuable it is to go through each step with the advantage of not lingering in any of the early stages identified by Tuckman.

The first stage is forming when people are orienting themselves to one another, getting to know one another.

The second stage of storming is when people tend to become a little fractious

The third stage is when the team build roles and rules to bring great functionality to the team.

The ultimate stage in Tuckman’s work is the team is performing where people have defined their purpose, understand the presence of chaos, and are willing to embrace the edge of chaos because they understand the individuals in the team and what they bring.

What are the components of Performance?

I now appreciate that there is great value gained by understanding the components of the team stages. This understanding will provide movement of the team through the lower stages and seek the performing stage.

Forming, when done well, as the team above has done, allows people to get to know one another, to find common ground and understanding. Storming, if understood and identified, will ensure that a team sees it’s vulnerabilities, passions and sharp edges.

If, in the first two stages, honesty and openness have been confirmed and reinforced then the third stage, norming, will be about developing behaviours and unwritten rules that allow, rather than restrict, the edge of chaos activity that stretches a team into performance. A performance level that is not just doing the “job” but much more.

So to get to performance have a look at our tips below. Or register for the Affectus Teams Intensive Workshop

What about the personality layer?

It is important to see teams and personalities as highly connected. Because they are highly connected!

At Affectus we use the highly valued Big Five Inventory. There is so much discussion about the five big traits and we are pleased to have used this tool in our programs for the last 15 years. Our reading on the Big Five now informs significant portions of our work. In the future, we will be exploring the breadth of understanding this tool will bring to your teams.

Quick Tips – Fast-tracking through Tuckman’s Stages

Moving from Forming to Storming

Ensure that forming is done in a manner that allows people (everyone in the team) to actually get to know one another's personal insights and professional understanding. Develop some guidelines so that the team experiences “getting to know us”.

Getting through Storming

All teams need to go through this stage. Some teams get stuck here. The skill is understanding what storming is about and letting people know what is happening. Storming goes from people displaying their power and passion to dysfunctional behaviour if the displays are not acknowledged and discussed.


Norms are about conscious (and perhaps written) rules that make sense, to weird “accepted” behaviour. The latter need to be called out and addressed early and openly in a team that is going through the stages. In a team where norms are entrenched due to dysfunction then vulnerability in the leadership behaviour that may be of highest value. People willing to share in a vulnerable manner the “madness” of accepted behaviour that is undermining the opportunities for the team to reach for the edge of chaos...can help.


We all know what that feels like. If you observe a team at an earlier stage understand and acknowledge that is expected. If you see a team stagnating in one of the earlier stages then have the courage to explain and assist them to get to performing (not once in a while performing mind you) and stay there.

Invite your team to our Teams Intensive.


Have you ever formed a team?

Have you ever invested richly in the initial moments of a team?

When you have done the investment what team elements have you focused on?

I have recently become part of a team that has a defined timeline. We came together in the full knowledge of the sunset date. It is marvellous to be part of the beginning of a group and it will be equally as exciting to have accomplished our challenge.

The entire lifetime of this team will be 22 months. The sunset on this group provides us with the knowledge that our effort will be fully expended in November.

What does the endpoint allow me to do?

This month's feature article outlines what this allows and I will possibly share another article after the adjournment of this team. But, for now, I would like to focus on the front end which started informally, for me, in January 2017 in a coffee shop in Rutherglen.

As I have reflected on these initial moments of this team I admire how careful investment occurred. People were informally canvassed to gauge their interest, availability and passion for the concept/idea and after the concept was scoped the first step was to invest in the people of the team.

There was no sense that this team didn’t know what the endpoint could look like but before we discussed outputs we discussed us. This was such a valuable investment and I will tell you why.

It was important to invest in the team because:

  1. Some of the team had worked together before
  2. Some of the team knew no other team members
  3. Some brought new knowledge into a new environment, some brought knowledge many knew they had
  4. Some of us knew others by reputation; some not so much

Because of this inconsistency across the team (like all teams) investing in ourselves allowed us to understand each other more fully and have a clearer picture of our capacity.

What could that investment be?

I would guarantee that you innately know the answer to that question.

From my perspective, it is getting to know people…facilitated (not cheesy) processes that encourage the team to understand each other. Perhaps it is simple as chatting and checking in with all the team before business starts. Or organising processes where people get to share what they would like.

If your team doesn’t do this component then how can people really work together effectively?

Getting Your Team Going

What are the fundamentals of getting your team going?

I was asked to address a group of ‘Women in STEM’ last week. The convenor asked that I draw on my national leadership knowledge and experience. I spent time thinking through what I have seen work over my 20 years of researching, building and I reflected on how I have assisted in the development of effective teams that deliver outcomes.

I spoke for 10 minutes to the assembled women who work across the STEM field…doctors, researchers, agronomists, technicians, teachers, nurses…women interested in adding to the STEM agenda, both locally and nationally. I was asked to be precise, the woman had to get to work and commitments…so I condensed my long version to an abbreviated one.

I believe that there are fundamentals to get your team ‘going’. When I have worked with teams that need to deliver outcomes within 6 months and those that need to consider the long-term I have noticed the following five concepts are consistent across all. I have then used these five concepts to assist and groups move from a collective of interested individuals to a performing team. They will assist you in getting things moving for you and your team but they will also guide you if your team is in for the long-haul and already established.

  1. Establish the collective values of the team. These values will guide but they will also assist when new people move into your group to help them understand the team baseline.
  2. Find your team purpose – why you are taking this action? Why are you going to make this change? Perhaps you have done a gap-analysis and you have decided that you need to fill the gap or perhaps you are introducing a newness…whichever…find why?
  3. Build a structure that fits your need…remember you can create a structure that works for you.
  4. Analyse your team skills and knowledge so that you can work with the magic you have.
  5. Remember that communication is the essential any team