Optimizing a Team’s Game Changing Impact

By Mark Griffin


We continue our monthly exploration into optimizing people’s energy for impact, with Game Changing teams. As one of 5 energy-based proclivities with The GC Index® teams that are Game Changer heavy tend to see ideas and possibilities that have the potential to be transformational. This is a powerful asset for companies if managed appropriately. So, in this article we explore how to lead a Game Changing Team, to optimize their impact on the business, by:

  • Understanding the context through which to create a Game Changing environment
  • Building upon the team’s core competencies
  • Building cohesion with other teams and cross functional colleagues

Understanding the Game Changing Context:

Game Changers are most energized when they have the freedom to be creative – to challenge and question the status quo; when surrounded by other idea-focused colleagues who share this enthusiasm for blue sky thinking, seeing possibilities and doing things differently. They therefore need the space to be free to play, the autonomy to explore possibilities, and the support to effectively verbalize and organize their thoughts, in a way that resonates with others. If there are too many rules, processes or interruptions to the creative thinking process, Game Changers will loose their energy and become frustrated.

Building upon the team’s core competencies:

There are three core competencies of a Game Changing team: Being Creative, Building Alliances, Engaging and Influencing.

Leaders should therefore primarily focus upon developing the skills which naturally align to and build upon each of these core competencies:

  • Being creative: Ask the team what a creative environment looks like, what are the conditions that support their creativity? Ask what support looks like for the team and for each team member. Adjust your support accordingly and encourage team members to ask similar questions with each other. Within the confines of actual deadlines, provide the team as much time as you can to form their ideas, then hear them out when they present them, asking questions that are grounded in ‘can do’ and ‘possibility’, so as to keep them engaged.

Furthermore, to keep the team ‘on track’ with the nature of their ideas. Ideas still need to be aligned with and relevant to the organizational purpose, mission and strategy, providing a different way to develop an edge, or to execute a particular opportunity. When ideas are too far off base, whether from a time or priorities perspective, the leader will need to be more directive and assertive to get the team back on track.

  • Building Alliances: Recognizing that Game Changers often see possibilities that other people don’t see, identify members of the team who have complimentary proclivities and engage them appropriately, for example:
      • Strategists can help put ideas into context, connecting the dots between the possibilities and reality, in a way that outlines the where, why, what and how
      • Implementors can provide a practical view of the nuts and bolts on the ground – what the operation actually looks like and the steps needed to realize a possibility
      • Polishers can build upon a Game Changing idea, reviewing it, refining it and improving it, to optimize the possibilities ahead
      • Play Makers can help identify who on the team may compliment a Game Changer, and will use their personal influence to get them engaged in a supportive manner
  • Engaging and Influencing: Supporting Game Changers by articulating their ideas in a way that engages hearts (feelings and emotions) and minds (rationale). This may include paraphrasing back what a Game Changer said, in a way that identifies the commercial value (Strategist) and aligns to practical application (Implementor)…”so what I heard you say was …XYZ, which could enables us to …ABC in this way …DEF”?

Further, understanding that your team’s Game Changer proclivities may leave other teams and areas of the business uncomfortable, as change by definition is hard and transformation is the most extreme form of change. Thus, working on communication and presentation skills that allow others the time to sit with the ideas, process them, and provide feedback as to both the idea, and how it was presented.

Building Cohesion with other teams and cross functional groups:

Building upon the last point from above, Game Changing teams challenge the status quo, the way things are done and are most engaged around radical change, so in certain cultures and with certain other teams, particularly those focused on execution, this different view can be unsettling.

As a leader of a Game Changing team therefore, it is very important to tailor your approach in a way that resonates with the audience. Positioning the ideas as things that can only be achieved with input from others – Strategists to map out the plan, and with Implementors to actually execute the plan, for example. Also, pulling in the Polishers who can build upon the ideas in a way that makes them better. Giving these other teams / functions time to sit with your teams ideas, and then provide feedback shows an openness to collaboration and acknowledgement that an idea is just that, until people convene around it and make it a reality. Play Makers are great at convening their right people, at the right time, to support this realization process.

From a communications perspective this means building upon your team’s energy and enthusiasm, with positive energy that can be infectious – to colleagues excited and engage them in the possibilities ahead. Then, providing space for people to absorb the ideas, think about them, test them out in their minds, and encouraging them to provide feedback (both positive and developmental) starting with ‘in order to achieve this possibility…..XYZ would need to be true’. Additionally, asking specific questions that are aligned to the way these other teams and functions think and is relevant to their objectives they are charged with, to achieve. For example for Strategists – “Why could this idea important to consider”, or a softer way of saying the same thing” What is it about this idea that makes it important to consider”?

To conclude, Game Changing teams can drive transformational change and competitive advantage for a business, when leaders are intentional about establishing the appropriate context, building upon core competencies and strengthening cohesion with other teams.

To learn more about how we support leaders and teams, optimize their Game Changing impact, click here.