How to Leverage Teamwork Skills: Curiosity and Creativity

teamwork skills

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There is a battle going on between humans and technology. How can we humans differentiate ourselves in a world of digital technology and machines, particularly artificial intelligence? 

The answer comes down teamwork skills, the traits humans have that AI doesn’t.

If you’re leading virtual calls, one of your main concerns is how well you are doing at keeping the attention of the people in this meeting. If we lose they’re attention, chances are that they are scrolling on social media. Greg’s framework identifies four super powers humans have to leverage in a way that keeps your team in their maximum zones of genius. With these teamwork skills leaders can (and should) leverage on their team. These skills are consciousness, curiosity, creativity and collaboration. These four skills are not only a way to differentiate yourself from AI, but also from fellow robotic humans. 

This pandemic has greatened a divide of two types of people. First, there are those who are purpose-driven, curious, leading to their creativity and collaboration. On the other hand, there are those who are just working for a paycheck, and not inspired to develop themselves. Those of the latter type, can be identified as robotic humans. These are the humans on your team that you want to engage, connect, harness and awaken using these strategies. 

Curiosity in Teamwork

Teamwork skills that we all might have but don’t always tap into is creativity. At this point in the pandemic, we need to work on defeating the feeling of the mundane. We can defeat this groundhog day feeling by diving into our curiosity and consider how we can redesign our days to find the part that’s the most productive. We need to find the peak time which psychologists call a state of flow, where we can be five times more productive, which releases ourselves elsewhere. Leaders need to practice mindfulness and encourage that on their teams as well as leveraging time during the day as if it were a time to play to engage with other people. Doing this lowers anxiety. 

Leverage Curious Discussions Around Meaningful Work

What is the meaning of our work? Why do we do what we do? Who are we helping?

Over the past year, we’ve seen this with healthcare professionals. It’s an important discussion no matter what industry you’re in. To get your team emotionally connected to the meaning of their work, have conversations around purpose.

Develop More Curiosity Through Empathy

While we’ve spent much time over Zoom, getting more insight into people’s personal lives, we can mistake the fact that we actually know what’s going on in their life. We’re all experiencing the pandemic in a very different way. To demonstrate stronger teamwork skills, be genuinely interested in what your team has to say and listen intently to demonstrate empathy.

Weaponize Curiosity 

Curiosity is not a fixed trait, think of it more like the mercury in a thermometer rather than having blue eyes. The level of curiosity in people goes up and down depending on who you’re with and what you’re doing. Curiosity is the gateway drug to creativity and if leaders leverage this they can use curiosity to get their team excited about their work. 

To weaponize curiosity on your team: Encourage Time for Personal Learning

Personal learning- Even in the most wide variety of interests and areas are crucial to creating innovative connections between things. Pixar has a wide variety of courses from pottery to painting. Skills are transferable and can be connected to your team’s work. It’s important to allow and encourage the time to do so. When an idea jumps from one domain to another, what’s when creativity happens. 

Creativity in Teamwork

Important teamwork skills include when and how leaders find time to be creative and then bounce between creativity and execution. Execution is what happens for this year’s profits, creativity is what happens for next year’s profits. It’s challenging to balance between these two. We need to deliver and delight our clients but we also need to put resources in a more protected area of our calendar to spend in the creative process. If we don’t, it’s possible that next year’s products and processes won’t exist. 

Leverage Your Sense of Humor

One of the most important teamworks skills include the ability to have fun and laugh. If you can make someone laugh or even smile a little bit, it will release oxytocin in their brain. This helps you bond with them, lowers anxiety, helps them listen to you and take action on what you say. There’s a great correlation between having a laugh and being more creative and collaborative. It seems counterintuitive to focus on laughing more, particularly when many people are facing dark times, but Greg thinks we need to laugh more in dark times.

According to Anthropology, humans were able to laugh before they were able to speak. After a danger had passed, humans would laugh, realizing they were still alive. It was their way of signaling to each other that they were still together, and still alive. To laugh with your team will lift their morale for the rest of the important work. 

Creativity Isn’t Always Sunshine and Rainbows

Creativity isn’t always a happy scenario, there’s a yin and yang to it. Also, creativity is driven by a kind of relentless perfection, a restlessness, a passion that is not always very comfortable. As a leader, you need to understand this yin and yang of creative leadership and balance the mood of the team depending on where you are in the creative process. 

The Creative Process

When you start a creative process, you are in divergent mode, you’re starting from a question or a challenge, or something that’s just irritating you that you want to solve. Then the leader facilitates the team who creates a portfolio of good and bad ideas. Then at some point, you pick a criteria, and start selecting the ideas. This part of the creative process occurs in a much different frame of mind. In this part, you’re assessing and killing some of the ideas. This is why leaders need to be able to be flexible in their approach and understand where they are in the creative process. 

The Hard Step in the Creative Process

Inside Pixar, when any idea first comes in front of what they call their Brains Trust, a sort of  cross-functional team that gives feedback on movies as they’re going through pre-production and production, they are called ugly babies. These ideas are not good ideas at first, hence the name, ugly babies.No great idea just comes out of a box as fresh as a daisy. When these ideas are iterated and worked on is when they begin to become innovative ideas. And some of the ideas don’t make the cut. The concept Pixar has behind ugly babies in the creative process is something leaders can parallel to their teams in that all ideas are on the table, and sorting through the process of the ideas, although it can be a painful process, is an essential part of success. 

 “If you want to be a more creative leader- stop giving everyone the answers and start asking better questions.”

Questions Leaders Should Ask themselves

How can I effectively make an impact through a screen?

If productivity is the same remotely or in person- what would that look like if it was the best of both worlds?

Work from Home or Work From Office – What’s the Best Scenario?

People are equally productive at home compared to their work in the office. Additionally, many people want more of this flexibility now. The work from home environment falls short on collaboration and creativity compared to working together in an office. The type of water cooler chat conversations become missing in the work from home environment and that is an essential practice for creativity. Greg recommends creating time in your virtual meetings with no agenda to help combat this issue. If you’re going to be a completely remote company, you’re going to have to work harder at working on creativity and collaboration. 

If you’re looking to improve more teamwork skills, see our resources below.

About Greg Orme

Greg is a speaker, award-winning author and facilitator who’s delivered more than 400 talks to executive audiences around the world. 

He helps leaders thrive in a world of accelerating change through creative-thinking, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. 

His book The Human Edge, how curiosity and creativity are your superpowers in the digital economy (Pearson) was named as the Business Book of The Year 2020 and is being translated into Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.  

Greg was the founding CEO of London Business School’s Centre for Creative Business. He now leads organisational change programmes with global clients in banking & insurance, automotive, FMCG, manufacturing and technology. 

His portfolio of leadership development and organisational change clients include Sky, Ogilvy & Mather, eBay, BMW, the International Olympic Committee, the World Economic Forum, EY, Accenture, Tata Steel, the Young Presidents’ Organization, Randstad Group and Virgin Media among others.

Greg has appeared on BBC World News and in The Financial Times and is a regular contributor to Forbes. He published his first acclaimed book in 2014: The Spark, how to ignite and lead business creativity (FT Publishing).

Greg’s first career as a BBC and ITV television journalist enables him to speak and write with memorable clarity. As well as being a humorous and engaging speaker, his journalism grounding makes him a sought-after facilitator of large face-to-face and virtual events. To find out more and see Greg in action go to: https://gregorme.org/

Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability

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