When conversations are going in circles, no progress is being made, and tensions among teammates are rising, it’s time for a team timeout. Enneagram Type 9s are masterful mediators. Here’s how one Type 9 leader reset their team and got them back on track.
Time for a Team Timeout
Enneagram Type 9s are in the Intuitive Center of the Enneagram and, more than most, have a strong sense of how to build consensus around a direction to take a team. When the direction is unclear and teammates have differing strong opinions, the 9 leader can become overwhelmed and may feel like retreating. Rather than simply giving themself a timeout, it can be instructive to give the entire team a timeout.
Start at the Start
People love playing to their strengths and will often jump ahead asserting ideas based on their own particular talents. If everyone does that, it can pull the team in many directions causing conflict among teammates, which the Type 9 leader dislikes. When this happens, the team can be brought back into alignment by starting at the start. As I describe in Teamwork 9.0, the first step in problem solving is to clearly state the problem and then create a vision statement describing the world with the problem solved. Importantly, by having teammates describe the problem in front of everyone else, the team builds a sense of common cause and mission to solve the problem.
Being masterful mediators, Type 9 leaders can facilitate their team through this exercise in a way that results in collective catharsis—conflict subsides and the teammates turn towards solutions that not only meet their own needs, but empathetically meet the needs of group. Perspectives broaden and the team experiences increased levels of creativity.
Mess to Success
In this video, I describe how a Type 9 leader reached the frustration point at which they needed to hit the reset button. By having the team collectively revisit the problem, the 9 built a sense of common purpose that brought the team back into alignment and moving forward together.
How do Type 9 leaders in your life respond when the team starts pulling in different directions? Do they take a timeout? Do they have the team take a timeout? How do they bring the team back into alignment?
“You know, Matt, my team isn’t agreeing on anything.”
That’s what Cindy said exasperated.
Then she said, “I try to mediate, but we just talk in circles. The conversations’ going nowhere.”
Cindy’s team is faced with a big challenge, and she wants the team to be in alignment before moving forward.
Her team members have different strong opinions about what to do, and nothing seems to be gelling.
She said, “Everyone just needs a time out.” I think when she said that she especially meant that wanted to give herself a timeout.
Cindy is a smart, strong leader who succeeds by building consensus among her team.
Typically, Cindy has strong instincts about which direction to go, and her superpower is mediating the team to build consensus in that direction.
But in this case, her instincts weren’t sending her a very strong signal,
and as team members asserted their own opinions, discussions had devolved from constructive conversations into unhealthy conflict.
I suggested an approach from my book Teamwork 9.0 in which the team could form consensus al on their own.
I reminded her of the problem-solving process and the very first step of having everyone describe the problem as they see it from their own perspective
and doing that in front of everyone else.
Cindy took me up on this suggestion and in her own elegant way she ensured that not only did everyone have a chance to explain their perspectives, but also that everyone listened closely to each other’s perspectives.
Like magic, team members started echoing many of each other’s concerns, and they started to see the commonality of the problem they shared.
Cindy then had her team imagine what the world would look like once the problem was solved. Doing that, the team created a vision statement that served as a guide for them.
Having built consensus around the problem statement and the vision statement, the team felt common cause.
And thankfully they stopped arguing. Even Cindy’s instincts started kicking in.
When your team gets stuck and teammates start bickering and pointing fingers, how do you handle the situation? Do you use Cindy’s approach of a constructive Team Timeout? Or do you have a different approach?
What’s you mess-to-success story?
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