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Evolution of Team Consciousness

Teams grow and develop by mastering the seven levels of team consciousness.

The seven groups of needs/motivations that are associated with the seven levels of team consciousness are shown in the following table. (Click table to enlarge)

 The Seven Levels of Team Consciousness

The “lower” needs—levels 1 to 3—reflect the basic needs of the group: their physical need for survival, and their emotional needs for belonging and self-esteem. The focus of the fourth level is on adaptability, continuous learning and giving team members a voice.

The “higher” needs—levels 5 to 7—reflect the growth needs of the group: the need for individual team members to find meaning; the need to make a difference through the work the team does; and the need to be of service to their internal or external clients and the organisation as a whole.

Teams that focus exclusively on the satisfaction of their lower needs find it difficult to achieve and sustain high levels of performance. In general they are too internally focused and self-absorbed, or too rigid and bureaucratic to be at the top of their game. They are not adaptable, and do not empower employees. Consequently, there is little enthusiasm and commitment among team members. Working in such a team can be highly stressful, because the main focus of the team is on performance and results. 

Teams that focus exclusively on the satisfaction of their growth needs lack the basic skills and capabilities necessary to operate effectively. They are ineffectual and impractical. They lack the systems and processes necessary for high performance. They are not grounded in the day-to-day practicalities of team management and are often ineffectual in matters of emotional and social intelligence.

The most successful teams are those that have mastered both their “deficiency” needs and their “growth” needs. They operate from full spectrum consciousness. They create a climate of trust, a focus on excellence, and can rapidly adapt and respond to changing situations. Full spectrum teams display all the positive attributes of the seven levels of team consciousness.

  • They master survival consciousness by focusing on the financial stability (funding for the team), as well as the health and safety of employees.
  • They master relationship consciousness by focusing on harmonious interpersonal relationships and good internal communications that engender team and customer loyalty.
  • They master self-esteem consciousness by focusing on systems that enhance performance, results, quality, excellence, and best practices that engender team pride.
  • They master transformation consciousness by empowering team members to contribute their ideas and giving them responsible freedom to innovate new ways of organising and learning. 
  • They master internal cohesion consciousness by developing a team mission and culture based on shared values that engenders a climate of trust.
  • They master making a difference consciousness by coaching and mentoring team members so they can find fulfilment, and creating strong alliances and partnerships with customers and other parts of the organisation.
  • They master service consciousness by upholding the organisation’s ethical standards, supporting the organisation in pursuing its vision, and focusing on the long-term sustainability of the organisation.


  • References

TNLP References

Chapter 13: Team Consciousness