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Climbing Up the Ranks

An aspiring business person, Sarah was in her early thirties when she had the opportunity to attend a Leadership Institute where she received training in the Klein Group Instrument for Effective Leadership and Participation in Teams (KGI). Listening to the lecture and reviewing her personal KGI profile, something clicked for her.

For some time now she'd been running a project team at her company with mixed results. At times, the group interactions flowed smoothly, but other times the members had disagreements, discussions bogged down, and it was hard to get everyone on the same page. The follow-up for implementing plans didn't always go well. Though she wanted to create a stronger team that could consistently deliver quality results, she wasn't sure how to do it. As she learned about the KGI diamond, with the four basic functions of a team--Leadership, Task, Interpersonal, and Negotiation--interconnecting in ways that explained fundamental group dynamics, the complexity of those dynamics suddenly became clearer. She gained a sharper picture of how groups operated and how to create high performance.

Examining the graphs in her personal profile, she could see both her strength areas and her soft spots. The profile contained twenty growth suggestions that would guide her skill development in the four domains. All she had to do was prioritize a list of the most critical skills for her and then start practicing them, one or two at a time, until she became proficient. Then she could practice a couple more. Over time she could develop into a much more sophisticated team leader. She liked the way the model allowed her to design her own plan and provided precise, practical steps for improvement. Excited, she returned to her company with a vision of becoming a more dynamic leader.

The first item she worked on was Perspective Taking, refining her skills with listening and seeing things through others' eyes. She asked more questions, tuning in to the emotions and values that underpinned the group members' statements. She found this helped her make proposals that respected others' concerns and that her colleagues would support. It also helped her to delegate task assignments more astutely, connecting them to members' interests so they became more engaged in the work. Experiencing positive results from her initial efforts in skill development, she felt encouraged about the process. She shared with her boss how the KGI training she'd received yielded valuable takeaways that were now boosting her team leadership.

To build more group cohesion, she designated a time every other Friday afternoon for the team to meet informally, to enjoy some snacks and talk among themselves. The subject matter was wide open. People chatted about movies, music, and favorite vacation destinations. As the KGI model had predicted, building up Positive Group Affiliation in this way produced worthwhile benefits. The group members became more relaxed with each other, enabling them to communicate more easily. This particularly benefited the team when they implemented a task plan. When participants needed to update each other in a timely way to modify the strategy based on initial results, the communication flowed smoothly. Members were also more willing to help each other when snags occurred in the operation. The execution of project plans significantly improved.

As the team advanced on these fronts, Sarah became more committed to her self-development venture. Every month she pulled out the KGI profile from the top drawer of her desk and selected another skill to work on. Following the KGI strategy, she sought to balance her skills in the four major domains so she became a well-rounded leader. During the year, she acquired twelve new skills. The process became easier and easier. She became accustomed to stretching herself, experimenting with a new skill, and honing it into a real asset. She found her confidence as a leader start to soar as she unscrambled the problems that arose in her group and maintained the positive momentum. The team adopted a "can do" attitude, reveling in a series of successes.

Sarah's progress as a leader, along with the team's sturdier performance, were not lost on her boss. He'd kept abreast of these developments, appreciating her commitment to improvement and her growing expertise. On occasion, he'd even consulted with her on how to manage other groups that were struggling and she provided thoughtful insights.

Several months later, something special happened. Sarah received a promotion to become the director of an important subdivision in the company. In that capacity she would oversee the work of several teams. The company executives felt she was the right person for the job, and that vote of confidence offered a wonderful testimonial to her growth as a leader. Starting out by simply wanting to help her team operate more efficiently, she'd located a valuable tool in the KGI measurement. From that beginning, she'd commenced a remarkable skill-building run that equipped her with a range of potent group skills. Her skill set expanded, her confidence blossomed, and now she felt comfortable facilitating these new teams, understanding how to read the dynamics and make constructive adjustments.

When Sarah stepped into her new position, she found continued success in leading the project teams. Word began to circulate through the company that the higher-ups "had their eye on her." She was seen as an up-and-coming leader in the company with the opportunity for bigger things in the future. Sarah was amazed at how the KGI skill-building had opened up her career in such a far-reaching way.