What Naked Feels Like

If you’re expecting me to talk about the cool breeze against my bare flesh – you need help – and you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, let’s discuss the last meeting your team held in the conference room. I bet I could characterize the meeting in three words: boring, inefficient, and replaceable by a simple email. Am I right? Let’s discuss an alternative.

Patrick Lencioni wrote the capstone work on team building and management in his book, “Getting Naked.”

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The book is written in the form of a parable which highlights the importance of unity and transparency in a team environment.

I read the book some years ago, and have applied the principles of the book in various situations since. Recently, I’ve re-focused a concerted effort to push the ideas and tactics mentioned in the book with my team in Chattanooga. We’ve spent several (productive) meetings identifying our weaknesses as individuals and as a team, and have collaborated and brainstormed on how to fill those gaps efficiently.

The results have been dramatic. We’ve seen two new products developed as result, and have moved past the ‘surface’ in conversations.

Here’s what I’ve found.

  1. Members follow their leader in regards to humility and transparency with one another.
  2. Team members trust each other more when tears are shed and feelings have been hurt. 
  3. The opportunity for brilliance presents itself when the distractions of self-protection are removed.
  4. I should’ve done this a long time ago.

Some of those statements may seem intuitive or obvious. But, the fact remains that the team did not move into a truly transparent form of communication until I did. Our team did not divulge their mistakes and mis-understandings until I revealed some deep personal struggles and weaknesses that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

Additionally, it was when some feelings were hurt and white lies were uncovered that we began to get into the productive part of our conversation. Once we broke past the fear of offending or being offended, we were free to think openly and communicate honestly. No one was dis-respectful; in fact, the transparent communication served as a catalyst for new ideas and honest analysis of current systems. 

Finally, moving past the surface of affirmation and constant praise allowed the team to honestly analyze what is working and what is not. It wasn’t about hurt feelings or personal bias. Rather, it was about what works and what serves our clients best. We’ve now begun development of two new products do to these sessions (with many more to come).

So, that is what it feels like to be naked. It’s certainly freeing to let it all hang out, and lack of restrictive barriers promotes free-thinking. Our team has grown to become more cohesive through the experience, and more trusting of each other.

Most importantly, we stayed modestly clothed the entire process. Success at it’s finest.

Has your team “gotten naked” with each other? Why not? I’d love to hear if you believe in Lencioni’s philosophy or have your own different ideas.

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