ICARUS* Resilient Teams | Self-Aware, Performing Well, Savouring Life

  • Self-Aware
  • Performing Well
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What happens when a team is under pressure for too long? Some people seem to thrive in stressful situations, while others flounder. Why?

When it comes to dealing with stress, personality style plays a big role. While it’s natural for each person to react differently, it’s important to be aware that the way we each respond to stress is an important factor in whether we are overwhelmed, or able to bounce back quickly.

Healthy human beings are surprisingly resilient. We all have inbuilt mechanisms to be flexible and adaptable with change, thus we are able to cope under pressure. When one strategy stops working most people adjust to trying something else. However, when we are under prolonged or acute stress our ability to adapt is diminished.

The strong personality strengths that have worked for us so well – can now go into overdrive, enslaving us in fixed patterns of thinking and behaving even when they have stopped producing the desired results.

This pattern of behaviour becomes like a one-act play doomed to that itself over and over. Over time we exacerbate problems, forcing situations where we our self-defeating behaviours replay our failures in daily scenarios.

When a whole team is under pressure we can make each other miserable.

The team can begin to act as one personality as each member adjusts to cope with the dysfunctions of the others. So the group as a whole can demonstrate a shared psyche being anxious, afraid, angry, self-serving, destructive, depressive, or passive-aggressive. This is a toxic culture — created by everyone, poisoning everyone, and hated by everyone. But without intervention the group will feed on itself with individuals choosing to leave as their only way to survive.

At The Colloquium Group we work with teams under pressure to build resilience and restore vitality. We often use Icarus* a team development tool, designed to create healthy awareness and discussion on how we think and behave differently under pressure. It was developed by The Colloquium Group as part of a PhD research study in alignment with the Fifth Edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V).

Here are some examples of how, if we are unaware, our personality styles can change under pressure, and wreak havoc in our team:

Under stress your diligence can become obsessive:

DILIGENT: You are conscientous and take your responsibilities seriously. If you say it will be done – you mean it. You enjoy focusing on details and getting things completed. You will go the extra mile to ensure the high quality of what you’re doing.

OBSESSED: You can’t let go of a task unless it’s finished exactly how you want it. You miss the big picture but get the details right. You impose rigid structures to control uncertainties. Core business needs get lost as you devote more and more time to managing the details.

Under stress your confidence can become arrogance:

CONFIDENT: You strongly hold views but adapt them to fit with new information. You listen first and then strongly advocate your position. You have a powerful self-image that you use to influence others. You are aware of your weaknesses and accept responsibility when things go wrong.

ARROGANT: You strongly hold views and reinterpret events and facts to fit. You strongly advocate your position and disregard other’s views. You have a powerful self-image that you use to dominate others. You are blind to your own weaknesses and don’t accept responsibility when things go wrong.

Under stress your vigilance can become distrust:

VIGILANT: You anticipate what could go wrong before you make a decision. You don’t like criticism but you will listen and learn. When you give feedback you balance negative comments with positive ones. You are very aware that people might be trying to take advantage of you.

DISTRUSTING: You’re obsessed with what could go wrong – to the point that its hard to take positive action. Your feedback is always focused on the negative. You’re always looking for proof that your negative assumptions about people are proved true. You’re dismissive of feedback as its always biased.

ICARUS* Resilient Teams | Self-Aware, Performing Well, Savouring Life

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ICARUS* Resilient Teams | Self-Aware, Performing Well, Savouring Life

Icarus (IK-uh-rus). Son of Daedalus, who dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman’s genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father’s warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.

Icarus was the first burn-out. A high flyer who forgot his limits. The results were disastrous. To avoid the stress and burnout dilemma, contact The Colloquium Group for more information on how we can help build resilience in your team — bringing vitality and improving productivity.