Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 111

HIGH-PERFORMING UNIT (without the sense of sight) while the group developed a strategy. During the exercise, each team achieved a shared comprehension, but only after accounting for each member’s different perspectives on the activity. The activity improved each individual’s ability to think creatively about solving difficult tasks and challenges, while also improving the team’s ability to communicate. Shifting next to development of the unit, the CCL team introduced the concepts of “direction-alignment-commitment” and “boundary spanning.”17 According to Donna Chrobot-Mason and Chris Ernst, “Boundary-spanning leadership is the capability to create direction, alignment, and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal.”18 This advanced organizational leadership idea was applicable to the unit given the vertical, horizontal, stakeholder, demographic, and geographic boundaries it had to manage and span once deployed.19 Experiential activity coordinators then asked company command teams, the battalion staff, and the battalion leadership to define the specific boundaries affecting the organization. In a candid discussion, leaders described boundaries they felt impacted organizational success. This exercise employed the concept of buffering, which helped create team safety and the feeling of psychological security that develops when intergroup boundaries are defined.20 Each leader understood the complex nature of the 519th’s mission and the need to develop into a high-performing team to span these boundaries. The unit’s vision statement called for a team in which members were accountable to each other and committed to each other’s success. The goal was to create a greater trust among leaders, allowing for risk taking, seizing the initiative, creating teams, and fostering collaboration (both internal and external). Increased trust allowed team members to feel more comfortable and to express their opinions freely. As Chrobot-Mason and Ernst describe it, the experience is about building a sense of community: [It] is about the experience of belonging emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically to a larger group. Each group identifies with a collective that is larger than its individual group alone. It is also about the sense of ownership that develops when groups feel that MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 they belong. When community exists, groups may have widely different sets of experiences, values, and expertise, yet they feel committed to taking joint action on behalf of a larger common purpose.21 To reinforce this, leaders conducted another experiential activity. A unique orienteering course required each company team to find points equating to a monetary value, and to maximize the amount collected. However, companies could not act alone. They had to work through the battalion leadership to have their plans approved while the staff synchronized the plans