Leading a team can be one of the most challenging and rewarding roles you can have in your career and, depending on where your team is at, will demand a whole of range of skill sets from you if you want to unlock the power of your team.

Transformative change is something that requires real effort and grunt work but is the secret juice that can turn a good team into a really great team.

What is transformational change?
Socrates said “the secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. This secret is at the heart of team transformation. An old facilitation teacher of mine, Dale Hunter, used to paint the picture of the trapeze of transformation. Imagining that to transform, one must let go of the old, and grasp hold of the new. Supporting a group through these stages of transformation is the art of group and leadership facilitation.

How do teams transform?
If we use the trapeze analogy, we can break down the stages of transformation:

Stage One: Awareness of where are we at.
This stage is about getting clarity on what is the old, the current situation and what works for us or doesn’t. The first step is to ask team members a range of questions about what’s working and what’s not working for them. What are the costs and benefits of improving how the team works both for yourself as the leader and the team?

Stage Two: A visual of where we are going.
Trapeze artists have to have a visual of where they are leaping to. In a team, this is the process of envisioning a new future. What could things look like if we were to change? What is the vision for our new team? A great starting question is “what could greatness look like for us?”. Then further deepen questions such as; What would be happening? What would we be doing? Who for? What would be different? What could be better?

Stage Three: Ending or letting go.
Things must change for there to be a transition from old to new. The process of ending or letting go can be very challenging and bringing awareness and normality to this phase can help a team prepare and adjust. Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief is very useful for building awareness of what the team might do or say as they transition through change.

Stage Four: Pause.
The pause is the moment before the trapeze artist grasps hold of the new. The pause is important it is the space where things can go smoothly or break up. Imagine if the artist gets distracted by a noise in the crowd or the team gets news that a major client has pulled out. It’s your job at this point to re-focus, reconnect with the vision and keep the team going. Ask questions like: How does this event change our future plans? How can we get refocused on our goal? Are our goals still valid or do they need tweaking?

Stage Five: Claim.
This is where the old no longer exists and full transformation has occurred. The team is now operating in a new reality and the envisioned future now exists. You have successfully achieved team transformation.
Some of my favourite team transformation activities include:
• Creating a new set of values or deciding to fully live and embrace the ones you have.
• Designing a new customer service process or technology.
• Creating a new team vision or purpose and letting go of the old.
• Deciding as a team to go from good to great.
• Raising the bar on team performance.
• Implementing a new process.

Deciding where to start with team transformation:
Every change you can think of probably requires some form of transformation – especially if it is worth your while. Deciding how and where to start should be determined by the impact on your team’s performance i.e. will this change improve the performance of your team in terms of targets achieved, customers won or increased engagement?