A Lesson in Teamwork from...Metallica!?!

Posted by Anthony Attan

Oct 4, 2013 9:48:49 AM


When you think of harmonious teamwork, perhaps Metallica is not the first thing that comes to mind. Their documentary, “Some Kind of Monster”, was certainly full of explosive arguments between band members; however, I found myself gaining insight about teamwork from this unusual source.

One of my favorite things about the Internet these days is the seemingly endless supply of Podcasts. I love tuning in and feeling like a fly on the wall. What is great about this uninterrupted and conversational format is that guests can really dig into how they got to where they are: the struggles, the success, and the lessons learned. What continues to strike me is that so many of those whom I respect the most, who have seen much success in their own careers, have had to overcome great struggles. Often times these are tales of people on the brink of quitting altogether, and we hear about the sheer determination to push through, against all odds, and eventually succeed. These are affirming stories to hear, as many of us can relate to those times of seemingly impossible struggle (check out my last post on Motivation for ways to kick it into gear).

This afternoon, I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, The Nerdist hosted by Chris Hardwick. His guests were Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of the band Metallica. Having been a Metallica fan my entire life, I was pretty excited to hear what these two had to say. After a few tales of life in the biggest metal band of all time, the host asked them how they managed to stay together as a band for so long. If you're not familiar with Metallica, they have gone through some changes in personnel, but the main three members have been together since 1983. Their newest member joined the band in 2003. Here is what lead singer, James Hetfield, had to say about the band:

“It’s like any relationship, it’s as simple as that. Like being married, it’s not easy, it’s hard. You can easily start bickering and point out all the negative aspects of somebody and how it bugs you…bands do that, but there is an imbalance [when there are only] egomaniacs with an insecurity complex.”

James goes on to say, “If you don’t focus on the good stuff and care for that, all the negativity comes in. Kirk is really good…about the positiveness of it all. I can find the negative in pretty much anything and try to fix it or make it better or something, you know, the perfectionist in me. Lars is the brain, I mean he can analyze and he can figure anything out. And Robert is the loose cool guy but he’s the warrior, he the ‘LET’S #$@%-ING DO IT, STEP UP’. Each one of us has an important role in this band and we can’t forget that. All of us need to realize that and together we’re one MEGA-PERSON!”

What really stood out for me in this comment is how self and other-aware they are, and how important that is. James and his bandmates have made this a priority, putting much energy toward this effort. We got to see a glimpse of this during the therapy sessions shown in the documentary I mentioned above, as bandmembers saw how their own personality and issues of ego would get in the way of what was best for the band and for the music, and how understanding where others are coming from can be so important for the cohesiveness of a team. This is a key learning to the development of any team and order matters. The starting point is ourselves, so we must start with a deeper understanding of our own filters, drivers, fears and needs. This can be done several ways, taking a personality assessment such as FEBI, for example, can be a powerful tool to gain this self-awareness.

With a better understanding of ourselves, we can then begin to understand the personalities of others. I've seen the power of this in my own research, for example, in my dissertation study exploring the impact of personality-based coaching on virtual team effectiveness. Even a single session of FEBI coaching allowed individuals to gain insights about their own filters and begin to recognize the filters of their fellow teammates, resulting in greater team effectiveness. Recognizing how personality shows up in us and in others gives us an opportunity to change our behavior when we see that we are making false assumptions, derailing others, or engaging in bad habits.

The last part of James' quote gets to the even greater reward of team synergy made possible through understanding and appreciating the team as a whole. As James said, what makes them work well is that they know and respect that each member has a unique and important role to play that contributes to the team, or band, as a whole. And that the untitledappreciation of each other is the glue that really holds it all together.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the balance that you have in the band with the cards you’ve been dealt” Kirk added in discussing how important recognizing and managing differing personalities is to the success of the band. For James, whose life has certainly had its hardships, including struggling with addiction, that bond with his fellow bandmates went far beyond music, “These guys help me stay balanced.”

Perhaps you aren’t looking to be the next band with a hit album, but chances are you work on a team in some part of your life and there is a great lesson to be learned from this metal icon. So I challenge you to find the value within all of your teammates, ask yourself how you can support their efforts and gain a deeper understanding of yourself and how your own personality impacts how you behave on the team. With a good deal of understanding and appreciation, your team may be able to cohere into a highly effective team, or in the words of James Hetfield, one MEGA-PERSON!

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, team development, teamwork, teams

Virtual Leadership is Whole Leadership

Posted by Anthony Attan

May 20, 2013 11:08:00 AM

In a recent issue of Training + Development magazine (February 2013), an article recapped research on what critical leadership skills were required to effectively lead a virtual workforce.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goalsVirtualLeaders
  • Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • Work with a high degree of complexity
  • Promote organizational commitment

The article goes on to talk about the importance of effective communication, increasing feelings of connectedness, ensuring clear working protocols, and remaining focused on goals.  In other words, virtual leadership is whole leadership.

By whole leadership we are describing an approach to leadership in which we develop all four energy patterns, as assessed by the FEBI coaching tool, so that we can utilize each when it's called for.  Although we have preferences for which pattern we naturally use most, which we call the home pattern, we also have access to all four, and the ability to strengthen any of these patterns enough so we can use them when we need them.

Working with leaders of top companies around the globe, we find that the most successful leaders are those who can use any of the four patterns, and the right pattern at the right time.  They have self-awareness of their natural pattern preferences, they know how to win on those strengths, AND they develop access to weaker patterns so that they can still be effective when the situation calls for something different than their typical, home-pattern repsonse.  Although partial or short-term success is possible by developing and focusing only on one's natural style, each pattern is indispensable in the long run.  Leaders need the

  • Driver’s focus, ensuring they clear barriers, motivate their people, and reach goals
  • Organizer’s stability, ensuring quality by building process, defining roles and responsibilities, and maintaining conscientiousness in everything they do.
  • Collaborator’s engagement, ensuring effective problem solving by seeing multiple perspectives, meeting people at an emotional level, and being fully engaged while engaging others.
  • Visionary’s expansiveness, allowing them to embrace the chaos, expand their world to all that is possible, and be more effective at strategic planning for the future.

Could you imagine a leader lacking any of these qualities?       

Leading virtual teams and organizations is much like leading their face-to-face counterparts except more difficult, and so requires more focused effort to be successful.  My dissertation research was on virtual team effectinesness, in which I studied real teams in real companies, all with real challenges. Virtual teams struggle more with building trust and maintaining full engagement.  Their members make more cognitive errors (e.g., false assumptions), and share less information among themselves. These challenges result in less effectiveness when attention isn’t given to overcoming them.  One reason for this added struggle is that virtual teams communicate in less feedback-rich ways, such as phone and email.  When we, as the receiver, have less information from our communication mode (think facial expression and tone of voice), we tend to fill in the ‘blanks’ on our own. Personality is the lens through which we filter this information, which can get us into trouble when our filter is unknowingly distorted.  Suddenly a short email response or an unanswered phone call makes us frustrated as we conclude that our co-worker is disengaged and unmotivated.  In virtual communication we are more at risk of drawing a false conclusion because we tend to have less information in the communication mode.  My research showed that simply helping people become self-aware of their own filter (i.e. personality or home pattern), reduces these errors and ultimately increases team effectiveness.  We found that even one session of FEBI coaching led to a significant increase in virtual team effectiveness. 

I would further argue that it's not just any coaching but FEBI specifically that is best positioned to help increase virtual team effectiveness because of its whole leadership approach.  As we saw in the list at the beginning of this article, whole leadership is equally as important to virtual leaders as well. 

  • (Organizer) Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goals
  • (Driver) Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • (Visionary) Work with a high degree of complexity
  • (Collaborator) Promote organizational commitment


You see, virtual leadership is whole leadership!


Want to learn more about how to use FEBI to develop teams?  Join us on June 8th for our upcoming free webinar.  Click the link below to register.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, energy patterns, leadership, whole leadership, virtual leadership, team development

Welcome to the FEBI Learning Lounge

The official FEBI blog

The FEBI Learning Lounge is the official blog of FEBI Assessment.  In this blog we discuss all things related to the energy patterns of FEBI, digging more into each of the patterns of personality and discussing various applications that can benefit from a pattern perspective.

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