Leading Like TIGERS: A Successful Team Building Model
What makes a group of people truly great? This was a question I asked in 1987.
My search for the answer found that education, business and psychology group dynamic research pointed to six collaborative values: Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success - TIGERS.
A truly great group of people pursuing a common goal with behaviors that uphold these values operates from the perspective, “if we win I win.”
Depending on the group’s mission, this concept of commonality reaches outward also to those the group serves. It is a matter of congruency between the group’s internal dynamics and the service it provides to others.
As I began to internalize these values and walk the path of a collaborative leader, my world view changed. In part it was a journey inward to face the equivalent of Rudyard Kipling’s Shere Kahn. I recognized that my individualistic nature simply did not fit a collaborative paradigm. Win-lose strategies need an “other” rather than a “we” to succeed.
My work has shown that values such as trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success will help a group avoid creating an internal culture that promotes winning at all costs. Group members embracing TIGERS values find it difficult to blame an “other” for mistakes. They welcome opportunities to identify problems that threaten group success. And they are willing to look at their own role in creating or continuing any identified weaknesses. This combination of collaboration and individual self-reflection allows a group – an organization – to pursue excellence for the good of all.
Groups operating under the TIGERS values system require members to commit to trust and being trustworthy; commit to the concept of, “if we win, I win,”; be authentic and truthful; be kind and capable of imagining the world through the eyes of someone else in order to resolve conflict; be strong enough to take well calculated risks; and be well-balanced between achieving personal work success and respecting the right of colleagues to succeed.
TIGERS values are grounded in behaviors that allow individual members to grow and achieve transcendental needs while the success of the organization thrives. Likewise, the behaviors make common sense and are observable daily in how people treat one another. The values and organizational growth stages are measurable and transformation is achievable in steps as leadership evolves.
Most importantly my work has discovered that entrepreneurs who have previously identified values to support their organization's mission and goals find that the TIGERS collaborative values support their current values and teamwork systems. Sometimes, the TIGERS values and an organization's core values are one in the same. And, at the same time it is not necessary if the goal is to develop a highly successful team culture.