The subject of toxic teams comes up a lot in my workshops. In fact, the first workshop of the summer ended on this bright note: we can all work on raising our leadership level in life, but there are some people who just won’t get it. This picture represents that tree that grows sideways despite the influence of all the trees around it. What this picture does not display is the fact that the tree to the immediate left of this one has a significant portion of the trunk growing in the same sideways direction. Herein lies the punchline:

Are you growing in direction of the tall trees or the crooked ones?

Of all the trees in this forest, our featured tree here decided to follow the one that was not following the pack. I used to consider my uniqueness endearing; what I didn’t realize is how my unique approach derailed progress. Our uniqueness does not have to become our distraction. Like my coach tells me, “Be interested, not interesting.”

When it comes to how we show up, it pays off to leverage our social network, like the smart folks at Scientific American wrote about the folks they call “information brokers” – those who have the stronger social connections.  The author says, “information brokers come up with better solutions to problems, potentially because they are exposed to more diverse perspectives.”

I used to be that sideways tree, always trying to distinguish myself, add my own touch. The more I learn about how I’m made, the better I understand why I sabotaged myself as a corporate citizen. This is why in Life Strategy Design we start with understanding how we’re made before we talk about how we show up. Take my quiz and see if you are wide awake to what’s going on in your team.

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