I was talking with a team we work with the other day and remarked how they were in a perfect storm. End of year mayhem to bring home the promised numbers, a change of leader, planning for 2009 to be completed and a really uncertain external climate. The perfect situation for a team to fracture.

At this point, ordinary teams become groups of individuals, with increased focus on individual areas with the mindset of “I don’t want to be the one responsible for failure.” In these circumstances, teams often stop communicating and become focused on making safe choices rather than brave ones, they stop building confidence and instead focus on making sure they don’t lose too much of it. They feel less and less in control as the external conditions present ever increasing challenges and rather than the mindset in buoyant times which is much more likely to be “how can we make the most of this?”, they choose the mindset of “I hope I / we survive.”

Thinking about how to survive 2009 is one choice. Thinking about how to thrive in 2009 is another. The external conditions won’t change, though your individual and collective performance probably will. It’s not about ignoring external reality. It’s about actively accepting it and and then asking “how can we make the most of these conditions?”