Understanding The Team Dynamics at Work

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 2 weeks ago

Dr. Demartini offers a new perspective on identifying and understanding team dynamics so you can more effectively manage and lead an inspired, focused, productive and balanced team at work.



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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 2 weeks ago

If you're a business owner, manager, or someone who oversees a team within any type of organization, today's discussion on understanding team dynamics may add some new insights and for you to implement in your working environment.

The Law of Contrast

Over 40 years ago, I opened my own clinical practice. Among my earlier employees that I hired was a woman named Lois, who arrived at my office by seven each morning, even though we didn't open until eight. She was entrusted with a key, arrived early, prepared the treatment rooms, organized my clinic, and ensured all the rooms were ready for the day.

Lois was completely focused on and dedicated to her job. She loved what she did and would go out of her way to perform each of her tasks and responsibilities to a very high standard.

On most nights after spending the day at the practice, I would often hold seminars or classes in the evening. Lois would sometimes stay until 10:30 at night, ensuring everything was wrapped up properly. Her commitment to her work was undeniable, and I found myself incredibly impressed by her work ethic, sometimes even wishing that everyone shared her diligence.

However, my admiration for Lois led me to unfairly compare her to another employee in my insurance department, Bonnie, a genuinely kind individual who would arrive at exactly 7:59:59 AM and leave precisely at 5:00 PM, seldom if ever giving more than her scheduled time. Despite her punctuality and the quality of her work, my infatuation with Lois's dedication led me to perceive Bonnie as less committed, a comparison that was unfair and influenced by something called “the law of contrast”.

In other words, the deeper my admiration grew for the diligent work ethic of Lois, the more I found myself annoyed by Bonnie's basic essential approach. Lois was the type to mingle with everyone, a natural conversationalist, while Bonnie was more reserved, an introvert who preferred the solitude of her insurance calculations over social interactions. This juxtaposition of personalities and work styles within my team was stark. I found myself drawn to Lois's vibrancy, yet increasingly critical of Bonnie's quiet dedication - a sentiment I was reluctant to acknowledge. This internal conflict highlighted my own biases towards what I perceived as dedication.

This situation highlighted the diverse personalities and work approaches within my team.

While I initially favored Lois's approach, my perspective began to shift when she experienced health issues. I advised her to focus on her health and take some time off, a suggestion that led to a surprising development. Bonnie volunteered to extend her work hours to cover for Lois, displaying a willingness to contribute more when needed.

This realization struck me as fascinating: if reducing the workload of one team member led to another stepping up, was I perhaps overlooking a more complex system at play within the team dynamics?

It dawned on me that within any business organization, teams are comprised of complementary opposites.

A tendency to admire one trait can often lead to an underappreciation of its counterpart. For instance, an overzealous worker might overshadow someone whose contributions, though less visible, are equally vital.

I found it intriguing that by reevaluating my perceptions of Lois and Bonnie, I stumbled upon a higher-ordered system at play:

Within the business organization and its teams, I realized there existed complementary opposites - pairs of opposites that, when one was favored and admired, the other was often unfavored or resented.


Understanding this dynamic, I began to recognize the downsides of Lois's approach. Despite her sociability, her productivity per minute lagged behind Bonnie's, who, despite talking less, achieved comparable, if not superior, results in less time.

This revelation prompted me to temper my infatuation with Lois and my resentment towards Bonnie, acknowledging the benefits of both approaches while addressing their drawbacks. In other words, bringing my perceptions into balance.

By doing the work to refrain from elevating or infatuating with the one and diminishing or resenting the other, a remarkable transformation occurred. Lois became more balanced and productive, while Bonnie displayed a newfound willingness to invest more time in her work. It was as though they reached a harmonious midpoint once I ceased fixating on my biases.

Intrigued by this outcome, I began to look for other pairs of opposites within my team - extroversion versus introversion, detail orientation versus people orientation - and worked to calm down and balance what I perceived to be their respective strengths and weaknesses. The result? A newfound stability within the team, free from the constant need for micromanagement, where everyone could thrive.

I also came to recognize the wisdom in hiring individuals whose roles and responsibilities are congruent with their unique set of highest values.  Doing so not only fosters stability but also enhances consistency and reliability in productivity.

I came across a book by a management specialist named William Edwards Deming, who played a significant role in shaping management practices in Japan during its economic boom in the eighties. William Deming discussed this same concept of pairs of opposites, which resonated deeply with me when I read it. It was a realization that I had stumbled upon somewhat serendipitously in my own business.

Here’s what I discovered, in a nutshell:

In any business or organization, there exists a dynamic interplay between culture and counterculture, with individuals embodying a spectrum of traits, some complementary and some opposing.

For instance, if you employ someone who prioritizes their work over family commitments, you may also become conscious of another individual who prioritizes their family over work. Achieving a balance between these contrasting traits, often described as masculine and feminine energies or testosterone and estrogen dynamics, is a wise approach when it comes to fostering growth both within a company and within yourself.

The more you align your actions with your highest values, and the more you prioritize hiring individuals whose deliverables are in alignment with their own set of highest values, the greater the stability and productivity within your business will tend to be.

Conversely, when individuals are not fulfilled and tasks are not delegated according to highest, most intrinsic values and priorities, the business can become more vulnerable to instability. This imbalance can lead to fluctuations between extremes, triggering emotional responses like the infatuation and resentment that I mentioned earlier.

In other words, it is wise to maintain equilibrium by addressing these polarities and ensuring that the team operates harmoniously, guided by each individual’s unique set of highest values and clearly defined priorities.

In my experience, it's beneficial to recognize both the advantages and disadvantages in every situation.

In the early nineties, during the internet boom, I worked with a company in Florida that specialized in website development. This was a time when having an online presence became imperative for businesses. Among the staff was a standout salesperson who sold at a rate tenfold that of her colleagues, inadvertently demotivating the rest of the sales team due to her overwhelming achievement. The company's owner was infatuated with this top performer, viewing her exceptional sales figures as indispensable, while simultaneously harboring resentment towards the less successful team members, wondering why they couldn't replicate her achievement.

The owner was quite taken aback when I asked him to identify the potential downsides of such an overachiever. Initially, he remarked that he couldn’t think of a single downside, so I posed a question about the risks of being overly dependent on a single individual - what if she were to fall ill or decide to leave? This perspective led to a deeper look into any potential downsides, which revealed that she was engaged in a secret love affair with one of the company's partners. Were that to be allowed to continue, it would likely set a new precedent for other employees to follow.


Recognizing the vulnerable position this placed him in, the owner began to see the value in balancing the dynamic within his team by looking at the benefits and upsides of other team members. The end result was that he requested that the top salesperson share her strategies with her colleagues to reduce dependency on her and reinvigorate the other team members' motivation. He also addressed the affair with the relevant company partner, which resulted in it ending.

This approach not only diffused the tension arising from the affair but also elevated the overall productivity of the sales team. By diminishing the reliance on the top salesperson and fostering a more collaborative and equitable environment, the company strengthened its team effort, ensuring that productivity and achievement were not concentrated in the hands of a single individual.

This experience is a wonderful example of the wisdom in maintaining balance within an organization.

Anything you infatuate with or resent, occupies space and time in your mind, making it hard to sleep at night. Your mind can easily become distracted by these polarities, which can “run you”, instead of you having mastery over your mind. However, by neutralizing these polarities, you are more likely to achieve a more focused and harmonious working environment.

It's a principle I emphasize in my signature 2-day Breakthrough Experience program that I teach almost every week - how to neutralize the polarities of infatuation, resentment, pride, and shame.

When you become infatuated or resentful towards someone, you may subconsciously minimize or exaggerate yourself, driven by the fear of loss of and desire for gain of those people. This external influence can lead to a situation where your business and life are controlled by external factors rather than your own internal vision and guidance.

However, by bringing these polarities into balance and maintaining a poised state of mind while prioritizing your actions to match your highest values, you can reduce volatility within your team and business.

It’s one of the key reasons why I teach the Demartini Method in my signature seminar program the Breakthrough Experience – to equip you with the tools to transcend external distractions in business and effectively stabilize and manage it. Warren Buffet famously said, "Until you can manage your emotions, don't expect to manage money," while Robert Greene emphasized that without emotional mastery, you cannot be a leader. It's about managing emotions and cultivating an executive function that governs and moderates emotional polarities, enabling mastery of both yourself and the business.

In conclusion, understanding team dynamics is wise for business owners, managers, and team leaders alike. The intricate interplay between different personalities, work styles, and values within a team can either propel a business forward or hinder its progress.

By acknowledging and addressing polarities such as infatuation and resentment, and by striving to bring these into balance, leaders can create a more harmonious and productive work environment. Emphasizing the importance of hiring individuals whose roles align with their highest values and fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual respect can lead to enhanced stability, consistency, and reliability in productivity. Through methods like the Demartini Method taught in programs like the Breakthrough Experience, you can learn to transcend external distractions and effectively manage your businesses, ultimately paving the way for greater achievement and fulfillment.


To Sum Up

  • Recognize and Balance Team Dynamics: Understanding and addressing the diverse personalities and work styles within your team is a wise first step to take. Learning from the contrast between employees like Lois and Bonnie teaches the importance of valuing different contributions and approaches.
  • Neutralize Emotional Extremes: By using tools such as the Demartini Method, taught in the Breakthrough Experience program, you can learn to balance infatuations and resentments within your team. This helps in creating a more harmonious work environment and reduces volatility in team dynamics.
  • Embrace Complementary Opposites: Recognize that your team consists of complementary opposites, each bringing valuable traits to the table. Strive for a balance that allows these opposites to enhance rather than undermine each other's efforts.
  • Hire According to Highest Values: Aligning job roles with individuals' highest values and the company's mission fosters stability, consistency, and reliability in productivity. This approach helps to ensure that tasks are delegated according to values and priority, reducing the chance of imbalance and emotional extremes.
  • Manage Your Emotions for Leadership: Taking a cue from leaders like Warren Buffett and Robert Greene, mastering your emotions is key to effective leadership and financial management. Emotional governance allows for wiser decision-making and a more stable business environment.
  • Foster a Culture of Collaboration: Encourage your team to share strategies and work collaboratively. This not only diffuses potential tensions but also elevates overall productivity, ensuring that achievement is not concentrated in the hands of a single individual.
  • Address Polarities and Prioritize Highest Values: By maintaining equilibrium and addressing polarities within your team, you are more likely to create an environment where everyone operates harmoniously, guided by their unique set of highest values and clearly defined priorities.

By focusing on these action points, you can transform your approach to leadership and team management, paving the way for a harmonious, focused, and productive work environment.


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