In the teamwork and leadership programs that we run, we often have conversations about how to drive individuals within the team or what action can we take that will motivate or influence others.

The key to these discussions is an important component of our model, which is all about building and maintaining strong professional relationships. We use a number of techniques to help people explore and analyse the depth of the relationships they have with their teams as well as the depth of relationships they have with others in their organisations that are influential in their ability to perform well in the role.

One technique I often use to help illustrate the layers of understanding in relationship is the iceberg tool.  You may be familiar with this illustration.

I draw two icebergs on a whiteboard. These represent the relationship between two people. The diagram of each iceberg shows three quarters beneath the surface, and talks as to why people behave in ways that sometimes make no sense to us.

As a group we talk further about the fact that three quarters of the reasons why people act the way they do is determined by their thinking/feelings, their values and behaviours and their needs.

It also explains why some people have trouble relating to each other right from the start. Their icebergs clash with each other under the surface at the values/beliefs and needs stage, before we even get to the behaviours above the surface.

I often split groups into pairs and instruct each pair to ask each other one of two questions:

1.      What is the proudest moment in your life?

2.      What is a turning point in your life and what were the consequences of that then and now?

Many people find this question confronting and difficult. Often people will ask, ‘does the proudest moment or turning point have to be about work?’ and we constantly reassure people that it can be about any part of their life. Invariably the stories and examples they give are not about work and this talks to how much of an impact important non-work events have on our working lives.

I then ask the participants to share some of their turning points or proudest moment stories. This has a deep effect on the group because generally those stories are very heartfelt and can often be emotional.

For the team this sharing process has a profound effect on levels of trust and understanding for individuals within the team and between team members. Often we will combine this activity with other tools that help with personal insight and relationships such as DiSC behavioural profiling.

At the end of the session, and relating back to the iceberg diagram, I ask the question of the leaders/participants, ‘Do you know the proudest moment or the turning point in the lives of the people who work for or with you?’ Mostly the answer to this question is no! Which speaks to the level of depth in relationships that we typically have with our work colleagues.

Have you asked this question of your work colleagues?

Do you know what really drives and motivates them?

Do you understand their values, beliefs and needs?

To find out more about how to build deeper relationships in your team, give us a call on 03 9654 3744 today.


Simon Armstrong

Simon Armstrong

Simon worked for Leading Team from 2015-19.