The recent success of our amazing Matildas united the country. We came together to discuss and celebrate the team’s achievements and marvelled at their abilities as a unified and bonded team of individuals. Watching the Matildas play and their progress through the World Cup provided supporters and the broader community with an opportunity to authentically connect over a shared experience.
As the Resilience Project notes, authentic connection is built on three key principles – vulnerability, imperfection and passion. It involves people truly connecting through shared experience or our vulnerabilities, just as we have witnessed and experienced during the World Cup. During the lead-up, head coach Tony Gustavsson encouraged the players to be their full selves, with families invited into the inner sanctum to further balance his players’ work and personal lives. He focused on the human element of his players, not just their sporting abilities.
Like many great examples in sport fostering authentic connection in your team will deepen relationships, enhance your culture, and support team members’ mental wellbeing. This in turn provides the catalyst for high-performance, with a team willing and able to innovate and work together to achieve results.
Some of the ways you can build authentic connection in your team or organisation to support high-performance includes:
- Demonstrate vulnerability trust and psychological safety: When you make it comfortable for others to share their thoughts, opinions and ideas they will ask for help without the fear of judgement. This creates an environment of psychological safety. This allows for open communication, innovation and a willingness to learn from, rather than fear, setbacks, which are key components of high performance.
- Healthy conflict: The foundations of trust and psychological safety enables conflict and challenge, which enhances results without damaging relationships or hindering productivity. Team members who have established genuine connections are more likely to approach conflicts with empathy and a desire to find mutually beneficial solutions. It enables robust, yet respectful, conversations aimed at working together about the issue or problem, rather than personal differences.
- Behavioural preferences: Established relationships between team members leads to a genuine desire to understand and adapt to each other’s communication styles and behavioural preferences. Clear and effective communication can help to prevent misunderstandings and supports alignment of members to common team goals.
- Feedback and continuous improvement: Strengthening relationships through authentic connection can support teams to engage in regular feedback conversations. Team members who have developed authentic connections are more receptive to feedback because they know it comes from a place of genuine care. Constructive feedback is then more readily accepted and viewed as an opportunity for growth rather than as a criticism or a threat.
- Resilience: All teams face challenges and setbacks. Authentic connections within the team provides a support network that helps team members cope with stress, change and adversity. When individuals feel psychologically safe, and trust that their colleagues are there to support them, they are better equipped to be resilient and navigate difficult situations with confidence.
- Employee engagement: A sense of inclusion and value exchange is developed from authentic connections. These connections create a sense of belonging, where members believe they are an essential part of the team and the organisation. This fosters motivation to contribute their best efforts and unite in the team’s vision.
Ultimately, fostering authentic connection in the workplace connects us as individuals. It enables us to share our concerns, our shortcomings, and our aspirations. It creates an environment where team members can truly be themselves, contribute their best, and achieve exceptional results collectively. Just like our incredible Matildas and their coach, doing the above helps you create the ultimate high-performance team.
Vulnerability, passion and imperfection cannot be forced, but they can be encouraged. Try one of the below questions at your next team meeting to start inspiring authentic connection in your team.
- What would you try if there was no risk of punishment for failure?
- What is something you are anxious about in your work or personal life?
- How do you recharge and take care of yourself outside of work?
- What challenge have you faced recently that taught you something valuable?
- What strengths do you see in your teammates that you admire or find inspiring?
Learn more about developing authentic connections in your team by reaching out to the TMS team at firstname.lastname@example.org.