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Finding Balance

“Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.”
George Santayana

About a year and half ago I began practicing yoga.  I did it to try a different kind of exercise.  It was extremely difficult physically in the beginning as I was using muscles in new and different ways and my ability to balance needed work.  The idea behind practicing yoga is to create symmetry throughout your body, making you stronger, flexible and balanced. It also draws a balance between the mental urge to push, control and be assertive, with the impulse to yield, submit and be passive.  In other words, by practicing what appears to be a physical endeavor, you begin establishing new habits of mind.  Only recently have I really begun to experience this connection, this important balance between the body and mind.

The Levi text discusses task-related and social-related skills of team members in this same manner – an essential balance for a high performing team:

“Although team members and managers often state that task skills are more important that social skills or likeability, they do not select new team members on that criterion.  Teams more often select likable people with limited skills than they do competent people who are difficult to work with” (Casciaro & Lobo, 2005 as cited by Levi).

Should I be selected by a team because I am likable or competent?  What is my balance?  In 1948 two researchers, Benne and Sheats defined 8 task and 8 social behaviors.  These are found in the Levi text on p. 67.  In reviewing their definition of these behaviors, I feel that my strengths are fairly equally divided in both behaviors.  At work, I believe my colleagues would say I am more of a task-oriented individual in project situations.  Group behaviors are closely related to and influenced by and by your role.

I determined that my three most dominant task behaviors are

  • Information seeker – requests more information to help in making decisions
  • Evaluator/critic – questions the group’s ideas and procedures
  • Opinion giver – provides opinions, values and feelings

And my three most dominant social behaviors are

  • Expediter – facilitates communication from others
  • Group process observer – observes and comments on the group’s process
  • Compromiser – shifts position in order to reduce conflict

Being a functional group member is like practicing yoga. The symmetry between task and social behaviors makes you stronger, flexible and balanced.

Namaste – “All that is best and highest in me greets/salutes all that is best and highest in you.”

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One Response to “Finding Balance”

  1. Seeking balance… It comes in so many forms – work/life, leader/follower, income/expenses. I realized from your blog posting that it is my instinct to find others who balance me too. The social behaviors that Beene & Sheats provides are not my strengths. But, I do find myself drawn to those who do have them. It is an instinctual need for balance. I know I need it, I know that any team that I am on needs it. This particular insight is one of the things that drove me back to grad school. It’s a safe place where I can learn about and try on these new skills.

    I have understood the basic meaning of yin & yang for years. Your post inspired me to dig a little deeper into what it means and google it. I’m not going to espouse Chinese philosophy here, I promise. What I did find interesting was this statement – Yin yang constantly interacts, never existing in absolute stasis. I guess balance is a moving target. You have to keep moving to stay balanced.


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