Team Development: Unlock the Power of the Sudden Shifts in Team Efficiency

Team Development - Non Linear - Flemming Christensen

Unlock the secret to team performance with our insight on non-linear team development and why individuals and teams collectively develop by jumps.

Better Team Performance: Understanding Non-linear Team Development

Team growth often adopts a non-linear pattern, marked by unexpected leaps and shifts rather than a predictable, constant incline. When we as leaders understand and benefit from this pattern, we can foster enhanced team efficiency.


When we mistakenly adopt the idea that team (and leadership) development is a linear process, we think that team (and leadership) development is great in itself, and the more we do of it, the better. We start talking about team (and leadership) development as it is “a thing” and something we “should” do and we might even spend resources on team (and leadership) development in situations where we should not or in situations where it would be harmful and creating new and unnecessary challenges.


(Read more about how you Enneagram Blind Types matters)


It is through understanding and preparing for these spontaneous shifts that a team can truly propel its growth and productivity. In this article, I will include experience from using the theories of Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, Bruce Tuckman, and Robert Kegan and insights from the Enneagram.


As leaders, we have witnessed several sudden shifts in the development of new skills, insights, and perspectives. This shift can be provoked by outer or inner circumstances, and let’s first look at examples of some outer circumstances.


Outer Shift Impacting Team Performance

Outer shifts can come from several areas, changing the anatomy of leadership and teamwork around the world. The shift can be created by changes in the geopolitical agenda, changes in the way we use technology, changes in real estate and financial markets, cultural movements, legal regulations, environmental concerns and responsibilities etc.


The Acceleration of COVID-19 Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the use of online meeting apps as teams were forced to shift to remote work.


  • Spurred the rapid development and deployment of collaborative tools and platforms.
  • Forced teams to adapt quickly to remote work styles, enhancing flexibility and independence.
  • Enabled global accessibility, allowing teams to work across different time zones and geographical boundaries.
  • Highlighted the importance of effective communication and regular check-ins in maintaining team cohesiveness.


The Sudden Advancement of AI Technology

AI has emerged as a pivotal tool, shifting the landscape of team development in organizations around the world. The capability of AI to abruptly shift team dynamics transcends traditional developmental patterns, paving the way for unpredictable transformations in the way teams operate and grow.


  • AI-driven tools and platforms enable seamless collaboration and communication among team members, eliminating barriers and enabling faster decision-making.
  • As AI takes over repetitive tasks, team members have more time to invest in learning and honing their skills, leading to accelerated personal and professional growth.
  • Leveraging AI-powered analytics and data-driven insights, teams can identify patterns and trends, enabling them to make proactive adjustments and improvements in their development journey.
  • AI algorithms and machine learning algorithms can identify gaps in team dynamics and performance, prompting targeted interventions and catalyzing transformative shifts in team development.


Unexpected Market Disruptions

Unexpected market disruptions often pave the way for rapid team development. Change is a constant factor in any market, and when a significant shift or disruption occurs, it can drive teams to adapt swiftly, fostering growth and speeding up their overall development.


  • Disruptive changes in consumer preferences, like the rapid shift towards eco-friendly products, can spur teams to pivot their strategies and develop sustainable solutions, leading to transformative leaps in their development.
  • Seismic shifts in the competitive landscape, such as the entrance of a major player or the emergence of a new market disruptor, can drive teams to reevaluate their positioning, ignite creative thinking, and fuel rapid development.
  • The introduction of new regulations or compliance requirements in the industry can prompt teams to reexamine their processes, adopt new technologies, and enhance their skills, resulting in significant breakthroughs in team development.
  • Economic recessions or financial crises can serve as catalysts for teams to streamline operations, optimize resources, and foster agile decision-making, ultimately propelling their development to new heights.


Shifting Cultural Dynamics

As teams navigate the ever-changing corporate landscape, they often encounter sudden cultural shifts that prompt them to reassess their approach to growth. Authentic awareness, acceptance, and adaptation to these shifts allow teams to leverage them as strides toward progress instead of impediments.


  • Monitor the emergence of new cultural trends and their potential to reshape team dynamics, creating a proactive environment that embraces evolving norms and values.
  • Encourage an inclusive and open-minded atmosphere within the team, where discussions and reflections on cultural shifts are welcomed, enabling the team to adapt and thrive in the face of change.
  • Capitalize on the diverse perspectives and experiences within the team during cultural shifts, leveraging them as valuable assets that can drive innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Cultivate resilient leadership qualities within team leaders, equipping them with the skills and mindset to navigate and guide the team through unexpected cultural changes, ensuring smooth transitions and sustained growth.
  • Foster a culture of experimentation and continuous learning, enabling team members to embrace and explore the opportunities presented by cultural shifts, fostering agility and adaptability in the team’s development.


I am responsible for a small consultancy company, and we have seen sudden shifts in the way we conduct our business. Virtual teaching now stands for more than 30% of our revenue, coaching can be done with more ease across timezones using online video, and we invite our clients to engage in blending teaching/learning, where employees can now participate in onboarding, training, town hall meetings etc. from multiple locations, in multiple languages and multiple timezones.


We use AI to create drafts of leadership analysis and comparisons of values and principles and to create ideas for articles, working with the simulation of cultural impacts, presentations and salesmeetings and predicting where to focus our future investments.


In the near future, we will also host VR training, and different geo-political changes have decreased teaching in Egypt but increased in Dubai. The world is more fluid than ever, and we all have to be prepared to the inner and outer natures of the sudden shifts in team development.


Inner Shift Impacting Team Performance

Inner shifts can happen spontaneously or can be created on purpose to govern the energy and creativity of shifts. Such shift can happen when the leader or part of the organization faces, accepts, and acts on leadership or cultural blind spots, when we overcome certain crises while taking ownership and without blaming, when we act on what matters most with courage and conscience, or when we let go of what is not needed anymore.


Strengthen Team Dynamics: Unveiling Leadership Blind Spots

Leadership blind spots, often unnoticed, can unknowingly hinder team growth. It is when leaders confront these hidden or not yet accepted aspects that teams experience groundbreaking developments, translating into better performance.


Addressing leadership blind spots may catapult a team toward unparalleled success. Leaders who consciously work towards recognizing and rectifying these blind spots enable a rapid and significant shift in team development.


Lack of Self-awareness

The recognition and acknowledgment of a leader’s lack of self-awareness can provide a launching pad for transformative team development. This leap occurs as the team leader shifts from a self-focused mindset to one that encourages the perspectives of team members.


Addressing the issue of self-awareness is not just pivotal for individual growth, but it also catalyzes a rapid growth within the team. When team leaders become aware of their blind spots, they can take proactive measures to improve, thus fostering a supportive environment where the team thrives.


Ineffective Communication

A sudden shift in a team’s development can often be sparked by overcoming ineffective communication. Recognizing this inherent lacuna creates an opportunity to galvanize progress, propelling the team from dysfunctional interaction to harmonious collaboration.


Ineffective communication subtly acts as a roadblock obstructing team development. Unmasking this hidden pitfall, acknowledging it, and then confronting it directly can often catalyze a dramatic development leap, completely transforming team dynamics.


Resistance to Change

Understanding the seemingly natural acclivity towards resistance to change is a pivotal aspect of team development. It is by breaking through this resistance that sudden shifts often occur, thus propelling team advancement.


Rigid adherence to familiar methodologies often impedes growth. However, facing this resistance head-on rather than avoiding reveals unexplored possibilities within the team.


Resistance takes various forms – fear of unknown outcomes, loss of control, or a ripple effect unsettling established patterns. Yet, it’s this Pandora box that unveils hidden avenues of growth.


Shattering the resistance barrier can often lead to transformative change within teams. This sudden shift propels the collective growth, leading to more effective and efficient team dynamics.


Ultimately, viewing resistance to change as a gateway rather than a hindrance can unlock a team’s full potential. It’s in the acceptance of this resistance that the true leapfrogging opportunities in team development exist.


Micromanagement Tendencies

Grasping the concept of micromanagement helps understand why it often becomes a bottleneck in team development journeys. Micromanagers, often unknowingly, obstruct the growth of their team by centralizing decisions and over-controlling work processes.


Bypassing micromanagement and empowering individuals can stimulate sudden shifts in team dynamics. It fosters trust, nurtures development, and facilitates an environment where team members take charge willingly.


Testament to the role of a leader, this shift in leadership style can fuel breakout growth, and spur unprecedented progress. Effective leaders can harness the ensuing shift from micromanagement to a decentralized, team-led approach to operational efficiency.


Failure to Empower Team Members

If we survey a failed or stagnant team, an uncanny common thread often unravels – a lack of empowerment. The potential to trigger spontaneous leaps in team development is muted when team members are not entrusted with authority, dampening their proactive and innovative spirits.


To circumvent this disempowerment and unlock sudden shifts in team dynamics, leaders must prioritize devolving power. Leaders who delegate responsibility, trust their team’s skills, avail resources, and encourage decision-making, often observe their team propelling towards unprecedented heights of success.


Enneagram Blind Spots: Expand the Capacity for the Leader and the Team

Enneagram Blind Spots are specific areas for each of the Enneagram Types that are not being integrated into our leadership. The variation of the “blindness” is huge as we all have a personalized version of the blind spot. But overall, Enneagram-blindness is about:


  1. Unbalanced Criticism
  2. Unbalanced Self-forgetting
  3. Unbalanced Pragmaticism
  4. Unbalanced Self-empathy
  5. Unbalanced Cognition
  6. Unbalanced Realism
  7. Unbalanced Optimism
  8. Unbalanced Autonomy
  9. Unbalanced Holistic Worldview


In relationship to these Enneagram Blind Spots, leaders also have the invitation to work with what I call Enneagram Leadership Blindspots and Enneagram Team Blindspots. These blind spots are designed more specifically to drive individual and collective acceptance of what limits the leader and the team.


Enneagram Blind Types: Illuminating Hidden Qualities Within

Enneagram Blind Types are not the same as Enneagram Blind Spots. They are in the same “family” or “category”, but focus on types that are blind to you. When you are blind to some of the types in the Enneagram, you are blind to the qualities, skills and abilities of that type. You will have areas of your personality that could be called undeveloped like:


  1. Undeveloped Healthy Integrity
  2. Undeveloped Healthy Relationship Building
  3. Undeveloped Healthy Manifesting
  4. Undeveloped Healthy Human Discovery
  5. Undeveloped Healthy Curiosity
  6. Undeveloped Healthy Craftmanship
  7. Undeveloped Healthy Optimism
  8. Undeveloped Healthy Autonomy
  9. Undeveloped Healthy Calmness


As with the other part of blindness related to the Enneagram, we can only make a breakthrough in our development as leaders and teams when we accept the blindness. And it is my experience that this category of acceptance will make sudden but very powerful shifts in the individual and collective growth of the team and organization.


(Read more about the book: The Enneagram and why your blind type matters)


The Power of Conflicts: Navigating Team Development Crises

Handling a crisis is another inner circumstance that can create jumps in team development. In the crucial crucible of crises, teams often find their development accelerated steeper than a casual progression curve. Instead of slowing down growth, carefully navigated crises can propel teams toward greater cohesiveness, resilience, and innovation.


Handling a crisis as a team will often create a shift or jump in the collective trust and awareness. It is also my experience that overcoming a crisis gives the team a new self-perspective where this mission and ambitions for the efforts of the team are re-shaped.


Trust and Collaboration

Successful team development often hinges on two crucial virtues: trust and collaboration. Together, they serve as the lifeblood of a cohesive, adaptive team capable of overcoming the most challenging upheavals.


Trust within a team doesn’t gradually increase, but sprint towards transformative moments, acting as a catalyst for sudden advancement. Harnessing this potential can give rise to quantum leaps in a team’s collective development.


Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution emerges as a silent champion in jumpstarting team development. A well-managed dispute can act as a catalyst, sparking significant progress.


The handle of conflict transformation locks into the uncharted door of team dynamics, unlocking unexpected developmental shifts.


As a paradox, conflicts typically seen as impeding progress can trigger conversations that evolve into powerful development accelerators.


Teams that master transforming conflicts possess the unique ability to tap into the wealth of collective wisdom, thereby nurturing an environment ripe for sudden development leaps.


Crisis management skill, especially in conflict resolution, is a pivotal element that can turn tensions into opportunities for team enrichment and engagement.


Goal Alignment

When speaking of goal alignment, a sudden alignment often triggers enormous leaps in team development. The collective vision that hails from synchronizing group objectives harnesses unmatched team motivation, instigating booms of progress.


Imagine a team where everyone’s efforts are mishmashed, their focus scattered. Now, envision the same team with a singular, aligned goal. The shift is seismic—the team leaps from chaos to focus, accelerating its development pace.


Perhaps you’ve witnessed the domino effect; one piece triggers a chain reaction. Similarly, when one team member aligns their personal ambitions with the team’s, it propels a ripple effect, leading to significant and sudden shifts in team growth.


Dissimilar objectives often hinder teams, leading to gridlocks. When the team’s goals align suddenly, it eliminates these obstructions. The result? Instantaneous acceleration in team development, marked by elevated productivity and smoother work processes.


Goal alignment is the compass that points each team member in the same direction. The instant realization of this fact ushers in an era of concentrated efforts, consequently expediting team development and leading to unforeseen progress leaps.


Team Roles and Dynamics

Understanding the dynamism in team roles can rapidly push team development into new territories. By addressing issues of role ambiguity, teams may experience a sudden leap in efficiency and harmony.


The sudden shift in team dynamics often results from an unexpected factor: role clarity. Having clear roles within a team can eliminate confusion, making cooperation easier and smoother.


When individuals fully understand their roles and how they contribute to the team’s objectives, they’re more likely to excel in their responsibilities. This can drive a shift in team performance, leading to transformative results.


An unexpected shift in a team’s development may also occur when new roles are introduced or existing roles are restructured to better align with the team’s evolving objectives.


In essence, the unpredictability of role dynamics and the power of role clarity can create conditions conducive for quantum leaps in team growth, propelling teams to unprecedented levels of success and productivity.


Change Management Challenges

Necessitated by unprecedented circumstances, teams may have to adjust workflows, goals, or responsibilities. In the process of navigating these changes, teams can experience sudden enhancement in their development, prompting accelerated growth and evolution.


Change management is a potent tool that can stimulate rapid transformations in the composition and functionality of teams. By addressing change proactively, leaders can effectively trigger an upward shift, pushing teams towards peak performance and innovation.


At times, it is indeed the resistance or struggle during change management that propels teams from staleness to bustling dynamism. Effectively leveraging these changes can direct teams onto the path of accelerated development, resulting in more cohesive, adaptable and successful teams.


From Individual Roles to Collective Contribution: The Shift from Workgroups to Real Teams

In any organization or project, there can be significant differences in the orientation and dynamics between workgroups and teams.


While both operate within the context of a common goal, the characteristics and functioning of workgroups and teams can vary considerably. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for leaders and members alike to optimize collaboration, productivity, and overall performance. Let’s explore the characteristics of working in a workgroup and a real team.


I have also included learning communities as a way of organizing the way we work and learn. The learning community is the shift between workgroups and teams.


Working in a Workgroup:


  1. Linear Development: The development of leadership and team skills are often more linear and do not have major or sudden shifts
  2. Task-Oriented: Workgroups are primarily focused on completing specific tasks or projects. Members often work independently or in subgroups with minimal interdependence or collaboration.
  3. Individual Accountability: In workgroups, members are individually accountable for their assigned tasks. The emphasis is on personal responsibilities rather than collective goals and outcomes.
  4. Limited Collaboration: While workgroups may involve some level of coordination, collaboration tends to be minimal. Communication primarily revolves around task-related information exchange rather than broader discussions and shared decision-making.
  5. Defined Roles: Workgroups typically have clear and rigidly defined roles for each member. Tasks and responsibilities are often assigned based on specialized expertise or functional areas.
  6. Minimal Shared Purpose: The shared purpose within workgroups is often limited to achieving specific objectives or completing assigned tasks. Alignment with broader organizational goals may be unclear or less emphasized.


Before entering the organization as a team, the workgroup will be transformed into a learning community, where individual and collective learning will prepare the manager and group members for a new way of working together.


Working in a Learning Community:


  1. Shared Learning Goals: Working in a learning community involves a collective commitment to pursuing shared learning goals. Members of the community align their individual efforts toward the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and understanding, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
  2. Collaborative Learning Environment: Learning communities prioritize collaboration and cooperation among their members. There is an emphasis on collective problem-solving, active participation, and mutual support, creating a supportive and engaging learning environment.
  3. Responsive Feedback and Reflection: Feedback and reflection are integral components of a learning community. Members provide constructive feedback to one another, facilitating personal growth and improvement. Regular reflection helps consolidate learning and encourages critical thinking.
  4. Diverse Perspectives and Experiences: Learning communities encompass individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This diversity enriches discussions, promoting the exchange of different viewpoints, knowledge, and cultural understanding. The varied perspectives foster creativity, innovation, and a broader understanding of complex topics.
  5. Continuous Improvement and Adaptability: Learning communities embrace a growth mindset, recognizing that learning is an ongoing process. The community encourages adapting to change, embracing new ideas, and evolving based on emerging knowledge and best practices.
  6. Active Participation and Engagement: In a learning community, active participation is encouraged. Members are motivated to engage in discussions, ask questions, and share insights. This interactive approach promotes deeper learning, critical thinking, and the exploration of diverse perspectives.
  7. Supportive Learning Networks: Learning communities offer a support system where members help each other overcome challenges and celebrate achievements. The sense of belonging and camaraderie nurtures a positive and encouraging learning environment.
  8. Application of Learning in Real-World Contexts: Learning communities emphasize the practical application of knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. Members are encouraged to transfer their learning to their personal lives, professional endeavors, and other areas of interest.
  9. Collaborative Inquiry and Research: Learning communities often engage in collaborative inquiry and research. Members explore topics of mutual interest, conduct joint investigations, and share findings, enhancing their learning experience through collective exploration.
  10. Reflection on Ethical and Social Dimensions: Learning communities encourage reflection on the ethical and social dimensions of the subject matter. Members consider the broader impact of their learning and strive to make a positive difference in their communities and society.


Working in a learning community offers a rich and rewarding experience where individuals actively participate, share knowledge, and collaborate to create a vibrant and supportive learning environment. The characteristics mentioned above foster a culture of continuous growth, critical thinking, and collaborative exploration, providing an enriching and transformative learning experience for all members involved.


Working in a Real Team:


  1. Non-linear Development: The development of leadership and team skills is often more non-linear and has the capacity to integrate major and sudden outer and inner shifts.
  2. Common Goals: Real teams are united by a shared purpose and common goals that transcend individual tasks. Members work collectively towards achieving specific outcomes, often guided by a shared vision.
  3. Interdependence: Team members rely on each other’s expertise and contributions, recognizing the value of collaboration and synergy. There is a high level of interdependence, with tasks and responsibilities distributed based on skills and strengths.
  4. Dynamic Communication: Communication within teams extends beyond task-related exchanges and encompasses regular and open dialogue. Team members actively share ideas, opinions, and feedback, encouraging continuous learning and improvement.
  5. Flexible Roles: In real teams, roles are more fluid and flexible, allowing members to contribute and take on different responsibilities based on evolving needs. This promotes adaptability and encourages skill development.
  6. Collective Accountability: Real teams promote collective accountability, emphasizing shared responsibility for both individual and team performance. Success or failure is attributed to the collective effort rather than individual achievements.


In summary, the difference between working in a workgroup and a real team lies in the level of interdependence, collaboration, shared goals, and accountability. While workgroups focus primarily on individual tasks and limited collaboration, real teams thrive on synergy, mutual support, and collective achievement. Workgroups might often have a more linear path of development, while the development of teams is more non-linear and depends on outer and inner shifts.


Recognizing these distinctions can help leaders foster a team-oriented culture that brings out the best in their members, facilitating superior performance and accelerated team development.


Effective Team Building: Exploring Stages of Team Development

Various experts have presented intriguing models to aid understanding. These models invite us into the labyrinth of team growth, highlighting distinct phases and the indelible impressions created at each juncture.


However, amidst this seemingly gradual journey, we find unexpected and sudden shifts and leaps that propel team development further and quicker. These stage jumps can not only break the monotony but also serve as necessary jolts, fuelling progress and bringing forth transformative growth.


I will briefly unfold:


  • Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s Perspective
  • Bruce Tuckman’s Model
  • Patrick Leoni’s Development Phases
  • Robert Kegan’s Evolving Maturity Levels


Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s Perspective

Demystifying the complexities of team maturation, Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith developed a model for team development. As we explore their perspective, we uncover how unexpected leaps can truly propel a team forward. Katzenbach and Smith’s model portrays how teams evolve through five stages: working group, pseudo team, potential team, real team, and high-performance team.


  1. Each stage represents a shift in the way team members function collectively, and such transitions often materialize in sudden jumps rather than a linear progression.
  2. Working groups are devoid of a collective performance requirement or shared team purpose, making individual effort the driver of performance.
  3. Pseudo teams miss out on achieving significant enhancements due to weak collective performance and individual-centered focus.
  4. Potential teams shine a silver lining of achieving collective performance, they often struggle to maintain a unified commitment.
  5. Real teams are characterized by their high collective performance driven by shared leadership roles, purpose, and mutual accountability.
  6. High-performance teams, the zenith of the model, operates with uncanny energy and shared commitment, leapfrogging the team to astonishing performance levels.


The journey through these stages lays the foundation for team growth, revealing how sudden shifts or leaps can radically accelerate team development.


Bruce Tuckman’s Model

Unveiling Bruce Tuckman’s acclaimed model uncovers the dynamic enigma of rapid team development. It offers unique insights, helping comprehend sudden leaps in team performance. Tuckman’s model serves as a catalyst for understanding the remarkable twists in team development trajectories.


Bruce Tuckman’s model, comprised of five phases – forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning, is instrumental in comprehending and guiding the non-linear trajectories of team development.

Dubbed as the ‘architect of sudden shifts’, Tuckman’s model highlights the distinct phases that teams undertake – forming, storming, norming, and performing. Each phase corresponds to dramatic transitions and transformations, powering transformative team growth. An understanding of these phases equips teams to navigate evolving challenges effectively.


Critical is the initial ‘forming’ phase, where relationship-building begins. It can stimulate a rapid upswing in team development when functionally navigated. The next stage, ‘storming’, though marked by conflict, can trigger exponential team progress when effectively channeled.


‘Norming’ and ‘performing,’ the subsequent stages symbolize the team’s adjustment to resolve issues, establishing norms and delivering peak performances. These transitions potentially result in monumental shifts, accelerating team development within a compressed timeframe. Tuckman’s model illustrates how these rapid transitions are integral to overall team evolution.


Furthermore, Tuckman’s model reveals the importance of ‘adjourning’, or the dissolution phase. With experienced guidance, this phase can trigger a quantum leap in learning. It provides a unique, reflective opportunity to analyze, learn, and leverage past experiences, equipping the team for future leaps in performance.


Patrick Leoni’s Development Phases

Delving into Patrick Leoni’s stages of team development, we encounter intricate insights that shape our understanding of accelerated team growth. His model delineates the unpredictable oscillation of rapid growth and sudden stagnations, revealing the non-linear nature of team development.


Leoni’s model, a dynamic blend of empirical and theoretical perspectives, unravels the ebb and flow of team maturation associated with heightened learning, collaboration, and innovation. It describes how teams can undergo sudden transformative leaps, effectively disrupting traditional linear notions of growth.


As per Leoni’s theory, these quantum shifts in team dynamics often arise from disruptive factors such as technological evolution or socio-cultural changes. They trigger a cascade of developments, leading to unforeseen evolutions in team relationships and performances.


Explicitly designed for understanding accelerated team development, Leoni’s phases provide invaluable guidance on how to navigate the labyrinth of sudden shifts. This appreciation of non-linearity fosters managerial agility and equips leaders to harness the power of these developmental leaps.


Robert Kegan’s Evolving Maturity Levels

The paradigm-shifting insights of Robert Kegan provide an innovative lens to view maturity transformations, driving accelerated team development. His thoughts, steeped in human development literature, delineate vital progression stages of self, team, and organizational growth.


Kegan’s stages of evolving maturity aid in understanding the leaps experienced in team development. They frame the sudden shifts as natural transitions, a potent feedback tool for team leaders fostering a conducive environment for growth.


Kegan presents maturity not as a static point, but a spectrum of evolving consciousness. This dynamism equips teams with the ability to navigate complexities, achieve shared objectives, and adapt effectively to change.


The maturity levels depict a journey from dependent to self-authoring stages, then onto the self-transforming phase. These shifts can spur team development, instigating leaps from one growth phase to another.


Having an understanding of each maturity stage informs how teams respond to crises, challenges and opportunities, paving the way for sudden yet coherent leaps that redefine the team’s progression course.


Enneagram Team and Leadership Competency Model

I have combined the perspective of Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, with the developmental approach of Robert Kegan and integrated the psychology of the Enneagram in a model for team development for leaders and their teams. I call the “Enneagram Team and Leadership Competency Model,” and it points out for the leader and the team what skills would be needed to develop a high-performing workgroup and/or a high-performing team.


The “Enneagram Team and Leadership Competency Model” also includes the inner circumstances that can evoke the jumps, we will first look at such inner aspects before I will explore the model.


From Orientation toward Vocation: Using the Enneagram in Mastering the Shifts of Team Development

Insights from the Enneagram can be invaluable when it comes to mastering the sudden shift in team development. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for understanding personality types and how they interact within a team setting. By utilizing the Enneagram, leaders and team members can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their teammates, thereby enhancing communication, collaboration, and overall team performance.


One way the Enneagram can aid in navigating sudden shifts in team development is by providing insight into the motivations and fears of each team member. Each Enneagram type has distinct motivations and fears that drive their behavior. Understanding these underlying motivations and fears can help team leaders identify potential areas of conflict or stress that may arise during times of shift or change. By proactively addressing these issues, leaders can mitigate the negative impact and guide the team through the transition more smoothly.


Moreover, the Enneagram can help team members develop self-awareness, which is crucial for adapting to sudden shifts in team dynamics. When team members have a clear understanding of their own balance and timing of competencies and patterns of behavior, they are better equipped to navigate change effectively. By recognizing their own tendencies, individuals can consciously choose to respond in a way that aligns with the team’s goals and priorities.


Additionally, the Enneagram can foster empathy and understanding among team members. Each Enneagram type has unique perspectives, communication styles, and ways of processing information. By learning about the various Enneagram types, team members can gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity of thought and approach within the team. This understanding can foster a more inclusive and collaborative team environment, which is particularly valuable during times of sudden shift and change.


Furthermore, the Enneagram can support team development by providing a framework for personal and professional growth. Each Enneagram type has a set of development paths that outline the potential areas of growth and transformation. By understanding these paths, team members can identify opportunities for personal development and work towards becoming their best selves. This commitment to growth can contribute to the overall development of the team, as individuals become more self-aware, adaptable, and resilient.


The Enneagram Team and Leadership Competency Model

As mentioned the Enneagram Team and Leadership Competency Model is influenced by the work of Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith and Robert Kegan and integrated the psychology of the Enneagram.


The model is structured around five stages: Orientation, Reaction, Transformation, Creation, and Vocation.


Stages of Orientation and Reaction

The Orientation and Reaction stages have an organizing principle of a workgroup with the characteristics of a manager leading a workgroup.


When integrating the psychology of the Enneagram managers and their workgroups are invited to investigate, build and master skills about:


  • Handling pressure and stress and how to return to balance in the three centers (somatic, emotional and rational intuition).
  • Building self-trust and care.
  • Acceptance of the diversity of styles (leadership styles, task orientation styles, motivational styles etc.) and building the skills related to this acceptance.
  • Handling conflicts about goals, roles, responsibilities, resources, and procedures.
  • Timing of personal skills deeply related to Enneagram motivational profiles.


Stage of Transformation

The stage of Transformation has an organizing principle as a Learning Community where the leadership is a merge of management and leadership.


When integrating the psychology of the Enneagram managers/leaders and their workgroups/teams are invited to investigate, build, and master skills about:


  • Building self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-regulation/adjustment.
  • Building collective trust and care.
  • Acceptance of the diversity of styles (learning styles and feedback styles) and building the skills related to this acceptance.
  • Handling conflict about diversity.
  • Building a new vocabulary for philosophical coaching.


Stages of Creation and Vocation

The Creation and Vocation stages have an organizing principle of a (real) team with the characteristics of a leader leading a team.


When integrating the psychology of the Enneagram leaders and their teams are invited to investigate, build, and master skills about:


  • Acceptance of Leadership Blind Spots and building the skills related to this acceptance.
  • Acceptance of Culture Blind Spots and building the skills related to this acceptance.
  • Building collective trust and care including external trust to and between partners, clients, suppliers etc.
  • Handling conflicts about building a sense of direction, belonging, and contribution individually and collectively.
  • Create clarity about what others (other parts of the organization, clients, markets, partners, owners etc.) can expect from us and what we then need to expect from each to keep those external promises.
  • Using the vocabulary of philosophical coaching.


Each of the five stages is divided into four integral domains called Self-Objective, Selv-Subjective, Colletive-Objective, and Collective-Subjetive creating a total of 20 domains of development. Over the years I have experienced that the 20 domains can be designed as 20 specific workshops approaching the very specific needs of the manager/workgroup and the leader/team and also support the creation of learning communities in the organization.


Summary and conclusion

Recognizing and embracing the non-linear nature of team development opens up a wealth of opportunities for growth. The synergy of sudden shifts can catalyze transformative change, leading to breakthroughs and progress on an unprecedented scale.


Reflecting on the various theories and models of team development, the critical role that crises and management blind spots play in shaping teams is evident. The key lies in leveraging these as drivers for in-depth learning and elevated team performance.


  • A synergistic view of non-linear development allows for identifying potential breakthroughs and harnessing them for unparalleled progress.
  • Understanding management blind spots aids in recognizing potential obstacles and utilizing them as growth opportunities.
  • Awareness of sudden shifts facilitates smoother team transitions and enhances adaptability.
  • Acceptance of inner and outer circumstances opens up to real growth and development.
  • In-depth learning from crises prompts proactive planning for future contingent situations.
  • Models of team development present a guide for predicting and managing team dynamics.
  • Insight into team development crises helps in formulating anticipatory strategies and mitigating adverse impacts.

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Julie Harris

Julie Harris: Coming into contact with Essence

I’m teaching a lot about these underlying emotions in each center, of anger, shame, grief, and fear, which is something that gets talked about in the Enneagram world. But I realized, I don’t think that I’ve ever been to a class where I’ve really worked with those emotions. Julie Harris   Interview with Julie Harris