T-Group for Advanced Leadership Teams
Up-level communication, emotional intelligence, transparency, and trust. Together, learn tools to increase collective insight and sensitivity for team power, alignment, and DEIB excellence.
T-Group will help your team
• foster true connection between individuals from diverse backgrounds
• accelerate team cohesion
• create depth and connective candor
• practice authenticity & transparency
• skillfully address conflict
• build trust
Potential outcomes include increasing
• tools for providing appreciative and challenging feedback, succinctly
• interpersonal relating skills
• insight, perspective taking, and sensitivity
• emotional intelligence (EQ)
• radical candor, directness, and diplomacy
• psychological safety for your team and company
• active listening, attunement, curiosity
• personal impact and influence
• healthy risk taking and skillful vulnerability
What is T-Group?
The "T" stands for "training"-- but I like to think of it as standing for trust, transparency, and team health. T-Group is an authentic communication tool that allows participants to swiftly drop into a deep, connective space, where awareness and emotional intelligence are accelerated. Participants may improve empathy, gain insight, learn about their blindspots and gain sensitivity. Read about its history here.
How does T-Group work?
We can spend days talking *about* vulnerability, trust, psychological safety, and how important communication is. But the real learning takes place through experience. T-Group provides a safe way to practice these skills in real time, when the stakes are low. Instead of learning through trial and error during high stakes situations, your team has a safe space to practice new behaviors.
What are the logistics?
To book a complimentary consultation and learn whether T-group is appropriate for your organization, schedule a time here.
In your team's first 2-hr T-Group, I teach the tool and members of your team (anywhere from 2-7 people) practice it. I recommend that your team engages in a minimum of 6 facilitated T-groups. The more facilitated T-groups your team participates in, the more individual and collective sensitivity they will develop. I offer more advanced tools and theory about group dynamics with each progressive T-Group.
After your team becomes skillful in T-Group, you can use it as your go-to team building activity during off-sites or retreats. I will make recommendations regarding continued training based on the individual progress of each participant.
What You Will Get
• A tool to next-level desired DEIB outcomes, and the efficacy of 1:1 or group meetings
• A tool that allows you to succinctly express concerns, insights, and challenging feedback
• A team building experience that simultaneously increases EQ & communication skills
• Astonishing, connective transparency
• A way to learn about our blind spots through hearing people's observations, reflections, projections, and narratives about your impact.
You are a leader who wants to invest in building trust, emotional intelligence, and synergy within your team. You're willing to candidly share your perceptions, hopes, and challenges. You recognize that empathy and vulnerability and are ways to improve team dynamics and sensitivity, and you want a tool to swiftly facilitate their growth. You're looking for a way to facilitate experiential progress toward increased motivation, engagement, and dynamic collaboration. You want a way to illuminate blindspots. If this resonates, book a complimentary consultation to learn more about it.
How T-Group Diffuses Tension & Defensiveness
T-Group requires courage. We stalk our own truths and practice sharing them skillfully. We receive both appreciative and challenging feedback that allows us to meet our blindspots and navigate defensiveness, cultivating emotional resilience. Over time, we develop confidence with directly addressing interpersonal dynamics in a way that connects and inspires. (Think of addressing the elephants in the room with an ease that inspires collaboration and productivity, instead of awkwardness and fear.) By learning to navigate the depths of T-group, we cultivate precision with emotional insights and grow an even more authentic, powerful presence.
What is the connection between DEIB and T-Group?Instead of talking *about* DEIB or sharing theory, T-Group allows each participant to authentically connect with each other, taking DEIB to an entirely new level. Each person has equal access to sharing experiences using a succinct communication tool that allows their humanity to be seen, felt, and heard. The impact is that more inclusion and belonging is (often) immediately felt and experienced, while EQ and insight sharpen.
Are there guarantees that T-Group will increase sensitivity to DEIB?No, each participant's progress is dependent on their willingness to be open and participate. However, if each participant is "coachable", and willing to "show up" for the experience, it is likely that T-Group will sharpen their sensitivity much faster than DEIB trainings, which talk *about* issues rather than facilitating the direct experience of insight and connection.
Can you share more about how T-Group works?As the facilitator, I set the tone; teach the modality; go over the core concepts and agreements. As the team leader, you model participation. Together, we all focus on: present moment experience; the impacts we have on each other; emotions that surface and the corresponding narratives we create. Through the identification of what's happening inside ourselves and the revelation of how it impacts the group, we cultivate communication skills and emotional intelligence (EQ).
How does T-Group increase trust?The format of T-Group requires that we practice several of the thirteen behaviors known to create trust, according to The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. At a minimum, T-group requests that we: talk straight; demonstrate respect; create transparency; confront reality; listen first. There are also opportunities to practice more trust behaviors: right wrongs (repair); show loyalty; clarify expectations; and extend trust. After a series of facilitated T-Groups, your team will have a common language to use so each member is seen and heard, while addressing challenging topics with precision and grace.
How does T-Group improve feedback skills?A practical skill that T-Group facilitates is the increased capacity to offer and receive difficult feedback. Giving and receiving effective feedback requires practice, and T-Group is a safe practice arena. We practice giving both appreciative feedback (which leads to comfortable, connective feelings) and "differentiating" feedback (which often leads to uncomfortable feelings and—at worst—avoidance). Ineffective differentiating feedback skills may lead to misunderstandings, compromised relationships, and/or avoidance of the elephants in the room. Through repeated practice, courage overrides avoidance; listening and curiosity trumps defensiveness. Over time, your team will increase the radical candor and feedback skills necessary to increase trust—and in turn, speed.
What's the relationship between feedback, trust, and speed?"In a Nutshell: Skillfully delivered, honest feedback --> deepened trust --> speed Longer story: Business icon Stephen Covey points out that trust is a multiplier, accelerator, and energizer that leads to faster and more productive work. Trust is like water: when it’s there, everything flourishes & grows. When it's not, relationships wither & die. Think of the costs involved in conducting an impeachment trial, when the integrity of a president is questioned and trust is compromised. Or the long lines at an airport after 9/11, when fear of terrorism eroded the trust for passengers. In the business world, this means that projects become more expensive and slower. Remember a time that you have been involved in--or witnessed--personal conflict at work that involved distrust. Energy is spent on self preservation, guardedness, defensiveness, and anxiety that undermine the our brain's ability to focus on the work itself. When we offer each other honest, difficult feedback in a skillful way, our defenses decrease so that trust can grow. We know that we are receiving someone's truth, instead of a varnished, highly filtered version of what someone really thinks. The keys for building trust are applying skill, authenticity, and care while offering feedback. Unskillfully delivered feedback may backfire, be ineffective, and/or breed resentment.
How does T-Group increase engagement?My theory and lived experience: When we hear someone's truth, we experience increased "aliveness". There is an activation of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: heartrate increases in tandem with relaxation and calm. Very few activities do this, and T-Group is one of them. There is a relaxed excitement that can also be described as "intensity". When we feel this at work, we are more likely to pay attention, stay focused and interested. We don't feel bored, which leads to disengagement and disinterest. Instead, we feel alive, present, and curious. This leads to connection and engagement. But don't just take my word for it--see if it's true for you and your team.
Are there any risks of T-Group?Yes. For T-Group to be effective, there needs to be vulnerability. Whenever we are vulnerable in relationship to others, there is risk: candor or vulnerability can lead to uncomfortable feelings (anger, irritation, disgust, awkwardness) and we each have a different tolerance for that. The flip side is that when candor and vulnerability are skillfully shared, connection increases. Drastically. Think of this risk as the price to pay for swift relational skill-building. When well facilitated, T-Group provides a safe way to experiment with up-leveling our *skillful* candor and *skillful* vulnerability, so that it increases both tolerance and resilience--and in turn, agility / skillfulness in all relationships.
How does T-Group increase radical candor?The efficacy of radical candor depends on the capacity to simultaneously care about someone personally, while being willing to challenge them directly. Ideally, companies co-create a culture in which feedback is direct, frequent, precise, and efficient. But how do people *practice* radical candor, outside of trial and error, when the stakes may be high? T-Group offers a way to explicitly *practice* radical candor, and thereby improve skill with it.
What if it's not the right fit for my team?If you are not satisfied with your first T-Group experience, I offer money back for refunds requested within one week of the workshop upon completion of a brief questionnaire.
Does a T-Group have to be facilitated?No, but there is high risk for it to go awry if it's not facilitated. As a facilitator, I create a safe practice field for exploring transparency and straight-talk, in ways that elevate emotional intelligence (EQ) and emphasize skill-building at our edge. I will start as facilitator, then bridge us into the T-Group activity itself, where I may weave in and out of both participation / modeling the practice and facilitation. The more advanced the group is, the less facilitatation is required. I recommend facilitation for the first 12 sessions, at which point your team will likely have the skills to practice independently.
What is the relationship between T-Group and vulnerability?Sharing the truth about how we are impacted by each other moment to moment is vulnerable. This is what we do in T-Group. A successful T-Group requires participants to experiment with vulnerability, transparency, and revelation.
Can you tell me more about how you facilitate vulnerability?There is a current trend toward using vulnerability as a tool to increase empathy and team cohesion. It's promoted by thought leaders such as Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Jim Dethmer, and Tim Ferris. This is because vulnerability has the power to connect us through an experience of shared humanity. However, there is very little direction on precisely *how* we increase vulnerability in skillful ways. There is also little discussion on skillful vulnerability vs unskillful (or what I like to call "vomit-y") vulnerability. As your facilitator, I will encourage the growth of *skillful* vulnerability, while creating a safe space for imperfection as well.
Can you tell me more about skillful vs unskillful vulnerability?Ideally, the sequence of events is: Vulnerability > Empathy > Connection & Care > Increased Engagement > Inspiration & Productivity But...risk is implicit in vulnerability. When vulnerability goes awry, the risk is: Unskillful or "Vomit-y" Vulnerability > Fear or Disgust or Anger > Disenchantment / Disconnection > Disengagement In T-Group, it's safe to experience both, with a collective goal of moving toward skillful vulnerability, which includes the capacity to be authentic and calibrate our shares to resonate for our colleagues. But how do we practice this? T-Group! These are the relationship skills we never learned in school, and can improve professional (and personal) lives.
What does vulnerability have to do with leadership?Conscious leadership theory asserts that employees are happier and more engaged when our leaders are willing to listen, share, and demonstrate their humanity. The days of titan leadership are over. This is why storytelling, which usually includes the story of how we have overcome an obstacle or fear, has become such a useful tool for connecting with employees. By vulnerably sharing truths, we demonstrate that we are not afraid of revealing a fuller picture of ourselves, which (paradoxically) demonstrates personal power. T-Group helps us include skillful vulnerability in our repertoire, to better connect with employees and express ourselves authentically.
Are there prerequisites?No, but what helps create a successful T-Group is openness, curiosity, and a willingness to work at your edge in the realms of emotional intelligence and communication.
How did you get into T-Group?I discovered T-Group in 2018, after exploring multiple communication modalities (including Nonviolent Communication and Language Alchemy). Blindspots were revealed to me during each group, and because of that, T-Group accelerated my personal growth at a surprising rate. At the same time, I had never felt more connected to others. I graduated from Crystallin Dillon's Facilitation Apprenticeship program in 2019, and have been facilitating T-Group for corporate and nonprofit teams since then. I also weave it into my coaching practice, and use it to deepen personal relationhips.
History of T-Group
A more thorough history and resources can be found here
In 1946, psychologist Kurt Lewin was asked to begin a series of conversations with community members designed to help ease racial tension in Bridgeport, CT. The outcome of those efforts eventually led to an initiative to improve the management of large organizations, with a focus on labor relations. T-Group became embraced by universities, the US military, and corporate America.
Articles on T-groups began appearing in the Harvard Business Review by the mid 60s. Proponents advocated for the methodology to become a foundational core of management training and university education. The first “Interpersonal Dynamics” class teaching T-Group was taught at Stanford in 1968. It continues to be taught at several business schools, including Stanford and Berkeley.