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EP: 57 – Re-Thinking The Human Dimension Of Teams

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Introduction: Geetu Bharwaney is the founding CEO of Ei World. Geetu’s specialism is the advanced application of emotional intelligence which focuses on the awareness and development of emotional resilience & the associated micro-skills of understanding, managing and switching emotions. Geetu, is recognised as a thought leader & speaker and is a prolific author. Her chapter in The Practitioners handbook of Team Coaching expounds her approach. She is also renowned for her book on Emotional Resilience: how to be agile, adaptable and always perform at our best. Published in 2015. 

Show Notes

Podcast Episode Summary: Geetu Bharwaney introduces us to a framework developed by Professor Vanessa Druskat & Dr Steven Wolff, a methodology employed by Ei, that helps teams understand the characteristics of outstanding team performance and the work necessary to cultivate this level of performance through the rules of engagement within a team. She further explores the human dimension of teams and the core emotional & social needs of a team, belonging, shared understanding and control, that have now become primary since Covid-19. Geetu litters the episode with vignettes, words of wisdom, takeaways as well as Ei’s framework that make this episode a must listen. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • Geetu’s career was highly influenced by her own struggles with Cancer and her need to explore the intersection between health/emotional wellbeing/life patterns & general lived experiences. 
  • Outstanding team performance is first served by getting 3 fundamentals in place, setting clear goals, having effective meetings and clear roles and responsibilities
  • Research shows that these 3 fundamentals while critical only amount to average performance. 
  • To move the needle, outstanding team performance can be achieved by first understanding and then developing 9 team norms. 
  • These 9 team norms sit under 3 categories which include; Team members as individuals with each other, The team as a unit and the Team with its stakeholders 
  • We can think of these norms as expectations and when well delivered can achieve outcomes such as Psychological Safety, A strong sense of belonging and an ability for robust dialogue. 
  • By managing the emotional dimensions of a team, the team is effectively building a culture with very specific sets of norms. 
  • The individual category: Team Understanding, Addressing Unhelpful behaviour on a team (different from individual feedback) and how to demonstrate caring on a team
  • The team as a unit: Review the team in terms of its process and achievement of intended outcomes (not outputs), Support expression on the team, Building Optimism and Solving Problems Proactively
  • Team with its Stakeholders: Understand Team Context & proactively build external relations. It is important to get at the perspectives held by the team & others in terms of how they are doing against all of these norms. This engages dialogue on the team 
  • Everything is VUCA. We are in an accelerated mode and we need to cut through the noise to get at what is meaningful and at the heart of true performance. 
  • One practical tool to employ with a team is the idea of exorcising team ghosts, the ghosts of a team’s history, the ghost of the Leader, and all of the ghosts that are in the way of a team being clear about how they want to work with each other
  • This exercise normalises the ghosts on teams and makes the undiscussables discussable. 
  • Tools like the one above help free and also release the many pent up emotions that exist on teams 
  • Ei’s approach with a team starts by getting clear on the business imperative and then moving to the pains experienced by team members. Ei, then moves to educate the team on the Emotional Framework explored above and it helps the team to quickly benchmark itself and then chose the work. 
  • A more in depth approach is detailed in Geetu’s chapter in David Clutterbucks book, The Practitioners Guide to Team Coaching. 
  • Covid-19 has brought the human dimension of teams to the foreground. 
  • What was known about the core emotional and social needs of a team is now centre stage. Three core needs include belonging, shared understanding and control or the autonomy to have a modicum of control in a very uncertain world. 
  • If more Leaders can understand this human dimension they will be in better service of a team
  • A reset is needed if we are to explore our collective trauma and psyche on teams. 
  • It starts with the self. Selfcare, Self-reflection and self-responsibility – means put self -first if we are then to tend to others 
  • The ART of self-leadership means building self-awareness, resilience and then my contribution in the team. 
  • Geetu, implores us to mine the opportunity 2020 has afforded the planet-don’t act with yesterday’s thinking, instead use the wisdom gleaned in 2020 and the wisdom we already know to rich dialogue. 
  • Now is the moment 


  1. Team Emotional Intelligence Framework
  2. Geetu’s book “Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best” and Audiobook
  3. Dr. Geetu Bharwaney’s company website, Ei World:
  4. Accreditation in Team Emotional Intelligence framework:
  5. Bharwaney, G, Wolff, S.B. and Druskat, V.U. (2019). Emotion and team performance: team coaching mindsets and practices for team interventions. In Clutterbuck, D., Gannon, J. et. al (Eds). Practitioner’s Handbook of Team Coaching, Chapter 13, pp 192-209. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
  6. Bharwaney, G. (2015). Emotional Resilience: Know how to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.
  7. Bharwaney, G. (2009). Coaching for emotional intelligence in international business environments: Challenges and opportunities. In G. Abbott, & M. Moral. (Eds). The Routledge Companion to International Business Coaching.
  8. Susan Fiske; Social Cognition: Selected Works of Susan Fiske, 2018  

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