Soren Kaplan

Unlock the seven secrets of elite leadership teams.

  • Use psychological safety to encourage risk-taking and open sharing across your team.
  • Develop experiential intelligence to promote better decisions based on past experience.
  • Integrate psychological safety and experiential intelligence for greater innovation and higher performance.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, high-performing leadership teams are the backbone of organizational success. Great teams don’t just get short-term results. They demonstrate sustained excellence over time. The ability to effectively collaborate, adapt to change, and drive business innovation are hallmarks of great leadership teams.

But how do you develop and sustain a high-performance leadership team?

Promote Psychological Safety

In my work with executive teams, one of my primary goals is to foster a climate of collaboration and innovation. When team members feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to share their unique perspectives, challenge assumptions, and generate novel ideas that can lead to breakthrough innovation and performance.

Soren Kaplan

Soren Kaplan

Psychological safety refers to an environment where people feel comfortable taking risks, sharing ideas, and admitting mistakes without fear of judgment or retribution. When team members feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to:

  • Explore diverse perspectives: A safe space encourages the expression of unique ideas and viewpoints, leading to richer discussions and more collaborative solutions.
  • Provide performance-focused feedback: Open communication allows for constructive criticism and course correction, ultimately leading to improved performance.
  • Take calculated risks: Knowing that setbacks are seen as learning opportunities empowers individuals to experiment and explore new innovations.

Shape the Future with Experiential Intelligence

The concept of “experiential intelligence” emphasizes the ability to learn from past experiences and leverage those learnings to inform present and future decisions. Experiential intelligence refers to the ability to make better decisions and solve problems based on the wealth of one’s experiences. It involves learning from past outcomes, recognizing patterns, and applying well-honed mindsets and abilities to current and future situations. Unlike purely academic intelligence, experiential intelligence is not something that can be taught in a traditional sense; it is honed over time through hands-on involvement and real-world encounters.

Leadership teams with a high degree of experiential intelligence are adept at:

  • Sound Judgement: Drawing parallels from past experiences to anticipate issues and mitigate risks in current endeavors.
  • Adaptive Problem-Solving: Identifying patterns from the past to quickly assess and solve-problems by creating viable solutions.
  • Agility: Adapting strategies dynamically and iteratively based on the team’s cumulative insights.

Leverage the Synergies of Psychological Safety and Experiential Intelligence

Psychological safety plays a crucial role in unlocking the true potential of experiential intelligence and vice-versa. In a safe environment, team members feel comfortable sharing their unique experiences and insights. This collective knowledge base becomes a valuable resource for informed decision-making and strategic problem-solving. Conversely, when leaders create an environment where diverse experiences are explicitly recognized and valued as assets – especially the lessons from challenging and adverse experiences – greater psychological safety is established.

Leaders can foster the synergy between psychological safety and experiential intelligence to cultivate high-performing teams through the following steps:

  1. Establish clear expectations: Set clear goals while acknowledging the possibility of using setbacks as learning opportunities.
  2. Encourage knowledge sharing: Create opportunities for team members to share past experiences and lessons from their professional and personal journeys.
  3. Promote cross-functional collaboration: Encourage collaboration across teams to broaden the group’s collective experience base.
  4. Actively solicit feedback: Regularly seek feedback from team members to understand their perspectives and identify areas for improvement.
  5. Celebrate diverse perspectives: Acknowledge and value the unique contributions of each team member, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity.
  6. Facilitate mentorship: Pair seasoned professionals with emerging talent to promote coaching and mentoring in ways that foster personal and team development.
  7. Implement feedback loops: Establish mechanisms to capture and analyze experiential insights, such as after-action reviews.

Integrating both psychological safety and experiential intelligence into leadership team development practices requires a conscious effort. The goal is to surface and harness the collective personal and professional assets gained from the diverse experiences from across the team. By creating an environment where every team member feels valued for their strengths, everyone can feel the freedom to contribute at the top of their game. The journey to creating a high performing leadership team is not a one-time event but a continuous process. It involves regularly gathering feedback, reflecting on successes and failures, and changing behavior to enhance team performance.

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