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Do you encourage inclusion or exclusion - what does it take to feel part of your team?

I was recently watching ‘Who Dares Wins’, the SAS based training/recruitment show on Channel 4, which has taken a number of contestants referred to as ‘recruits’ to the Jordanian desert to complete a number of tough challenges to test their physical and psychological steel. Which just for the record is not my cup of tea when it comes to a challenge. The team is led by Ex-US marine Rudy Reyes, the Chief Instructor, and supported by ex special forces from the UK and USA.

In this particular episode, Rudy lined up the final 10 up in the morning and posed this question to the first recruit. “Who do you least trust as a recruit?” No. 18 was his response. The same question was asked of the other recruits, who all gave the same response, No. 18. Nearing the end he varied the question to “Who would you leave behind? again No. 18 was the response. As everyone answered, the camera zoomed in on No 18, she appeared to concentrate hard on looking ahead but you could see her eyes tearing up.

He ended with, Even if you don’t like each other, even if you don’t know each other, on the battlefield you have to rely completely on each other, am I understood”. Whilst I would not argue with this end statement, I feel that the way the recruits were placed on the spot to identify one of their colleagues as ‘the weakest link’, was at the very least controversial, and at the worst potentially physiologically damaging to the person in question. It was clearly designed to expose feelings, both positive and negative, to present a learning point, and to create a scene of high tension and drama, that would be likely to attract a large TV audience. Now I know that TV shows have to have audience approval, but I hope behind the scenes, No. 18 was well supported and that her wellbeing was a priority

Still it got me thinking about what makes a great team, and not surprisingly the responses will vary with different teams. However some of the things that are usually stated, are common goals, a vision, good communication, leadership, collaboration, mix of experience etc.

However takeaway the battlefield and exchange it for another environment that most of us are familiar with, like a team in an office, production floor, kitchen, warehouse, shop etc, then one thing that is worth thinking about is, exclusion. What does it feel like when you are not part of a team, when you feel like an outsider, how might a person behave, how might they respond to situations. So the real area to mull over as a leader is how do you help your team to feel included, respected and that they belong?

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