Thriving teams






Pen, paper, computer





Intention The intention of this task is to practice seeing a team as a whole, noticing how we interact with each other, and what is needed so that everyone is valued and can thrive in the team. Desired outcome Increased ability to create successful, diverse and healthy teams, where everyone is valued and can contribute best. Increased ability to take responsibility for positively shaping the power dynamics and interactions in a team.


Teams in which all people thrive as individuals, bring more successful results, creativity, emergent solutions, they are more resilient in the face of change.

We want our team members to be well, valued and contributing their best - but often our team dynamics work against this. It is difficult to achieve a team where all individuals are thriving, in reality, without explicitly addressing the way we do things. Every group has some unspoken norms, rules, typical behaviours, shaped by ideas and assumptions that are dominant in this setting. Especially in teams that are diverse, this realistically means that some people are listened to more than others, some ideas are more valued than others, etc. The results of this can be loss of energy among the disadvantaged members, lack of genuine engagement, higher chance of conflict and apathy especially at times of change, less creativity and innovation. To create thriving teams, we must be able to address the often unseen patterns and dynamics that are detrimental to our group. Especially in diverse teams, we have to practice the skills of confronting group behaviours and norms that may be holding some members back. This can be very challenging, as it means confronting our own assumptions and ideas about what is valuable, important and right. This can bring up feelings of shame or discomfort.

As leaders, we have a bigger influence and more possibility to direct the power dynamics and relational dynamics in a group, in an organization. We have the capacity to empower those who need it, to make sure less people are hurt by our work and practices, and that the power present gets to be used for good purpose. If we are not aware, we will probably continue the situation in the same way, and perpetuate some useless, unfair and unproductive power dynamics. Awareness, willingness to bring these issues to light and to actively change them, can support truly thriving teams.



Solo reflection (20min): Choose a specific situation or setting to focus on. For example, you can focus on a group or an organization you work in, or this program. Try to focus on the setting as a whole (e.g. imagine you are observing everything from above, not from your own perspective) In what ways does the group give more power to some people? Is this how this should be? What should change? Write down key points. Guiding questions: Who gets more time to speak, and when? Whose knowledge and skills are valued more? Whose feelings are given more importance? What is allowed for the different people? What role do peoples' backgrounds play? How do people need to present themselves and communicate, to be taken seriously? Who has formal and informal power? Whose preferred way of working dominates?


Solo reflection (20min): Reflect on your own role in this situation. Guiding questions What power dynamics are comfortable and uncomfortable for me? How am I contributing to maintaining or changing these power relations? What can I do to contribute to everyone being valued and thriving in this situation, even if it is uncomfortable or risky for me? (e.g. changing mindset, behaviour, concrete actions)


Share in group (40min): Everyone shares an important insight with the rest of the group. Make time for questions and challenges, or open discussion. (Trying to take another perspective than your own is very difficult - here you can ask your group members to help uncover your biases)


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