Once team members are “on the same page” about goals and objectives, what norms will help them keep moving in the same direction? How can members check their own and each others’ behavior along the way?
The Team Member Pledge (below) is based on a few fundamental principles:
1. Each person is responsible for communicating in an open, honest, direct and respectful fashion.
2. Principle #1 applies, even when others don’t seem to be following it.
3. Each person is responsible for his/her own emotional state. No one causes anyone else’s emotions; no one is responsible for rescuing others from their emotional states.
4. Principle #3 applies, even when others don’t seem to be following it.
These principles imply and foster maximum personal responsibility and differentiation. They clear the way for healthy interdependence – a team that is focused and connected without being emotionally fused. The list of responsibilities that flows from them (below) presumes and fosters a high degree of emotional intelligence – in a word, maturity.
The Team Member Pledge
1. I have the primary responsibility to focus on managing myself. This includes, for example:
• I’m aware of the emotional reactions (pleasure or pain) that occur in me.
• I take responsibility for those emotional stirrings by not ascribing responsibility to anyone else for how I feel now, and for not expecting anyone to make me feel more happiness or less pain in the future.
• I take the risk of speaking about my own beliefs, values and experience, regardless of how others might react.
• I take responsibility for my openness to new ideas, and to feedback coming from my team members.
• I work to distinguish between my emotional reactions and my thinking, between excitement and instinct, between fear-based objections and intuition. If I’m unclear about which is which, I let others know that when I speak.
2. I have the responsibility to speak with respect to the rest of the team. This doesn’t mean changing the content of my message. It does mean recognizing that respectful presentation promotes dialogue. It reduces the possibility of triggering reactions in others.
3. I have the responsibility to speak directly with others when I have an idea, an objection, a reaction, etc. This means resisting the urge to go to a third party for alliance-building, complaining, lobbying, etc. The only legitimate reason to engage with a third party is for coaching that helps me examine my own functioning and, if necessary, to re-engage with the other person.
4. I have the responsibility to allow others on the team to have their own relationships with each other. This means allowing others to enjoy each other or rely on each other without needing to insert myself. It also means allowing others to experience tension in their relationship without attempting to fix it myself.
5. I have the responsibility to maintain, from my end, an open, honest, direct and respectful individual relationship with each member of the team.
6. When I believe other team members are violating these principles, my first responsibility is to manage my own anxiety about that before responding to them!