How this Sugar House resident crafts ‘extraordinary teams’Nov 05, 2019 16h03 ● By Sona Schmidt Harris
Jeb Hurley believes that “when a leader proposes an opportunity for a promotion, part of the criteria should be how well you work as a team.” (Elena Newton/Sugar House)
By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]
The first thing one notices about Sugar House resident Jeb Hurley is how happy he is. He smiles easily and seems to want others to be happy as well.
To help facilitate the happiness of others, Hurley authored, “Team Relationship Management: The Art of Crafting Extraordinary Teams.” He also conducts workshops and lectures about the subject of productive teams in the workplace. His focus is leadership.
“One of the themes that had dominated throughout was a real curiosity about what it is that made for good leaders and leadership in organizations. This is all the way back to my first job, and I think over time it became very clear particularly in the 21st century . . . that teams are by far the key dynamic that makes or breaks organizations,” Hurley said.
“Being part of a team is really characterized by a group of individuals coming together for a common purpose to solve a problem to achieve a goal,” he said.
“When you bring together many minds, what they have is the potential to accomplish something extraordinary. But I think a lot of people have unfortunately experienced when you bring groups of people together, there can also be quite destructive, dysfunctional behaviors that erode and affect not only the effectiveness of the team and people's engagement, but ultimately the human spirit. I mean, you just don't want to get out of bed and engage with these people. And it can become toxic, and it affects people's emotional, mental and physical well-being,” he said.
As the workplace has become more global, Hurley believes, “that the ability to build trust with people that are sitting somewhere else in the country and the world is extraordinarily important.”
He said it starts from a leadership standpoint and team leaders establish the norms of the values by which a team is going to operate. Problems almost always start there if you have inconsistency in the way leadership works and it allows toxic behaviors or the silent killers to begin.
“What tends to amplify in the workplace is the fact that you have deadlines, you have stressors, you have politics. You have some of these dynamics that if they're not dealt with and managed in a healthy way, they quickly turn dysfunctional,” Hurley said.
“If it's dealt with immediately, it's actually a pretty easy conversation. It's when it's ignored for weeks and months on end, and people just want to avoid it . . . good leaders not only assess and coach behaviors around healthy norms, but when they're violated . . . they address it and sit down and say, ‘Wow, you know that behavior is really inconsistent with who we want to be as a team.’”
“It's kind of like dealing with children. I mean, if you're inconsistent . . . you're setting yourself up for problems,” he said.
When a leader proposes an opportunity for a promotion, Hurley believes that “part of the criteria should be how well you work as a team.”
He also believes that a psychologically safe environment is imperative to a team in the workplace. “In a team environment where there's someone on the team of any gender whose suggestions are ignored, and who's ridiculed, it’s kind of like mean girls or bullies. It’s incivility in the office playing out in a team environment. And so you don't feel safe in terms of putting forth your ideas. You don't feel like you have an equal voice on this team because you're afraid of being ridiculed or looked down upon by your peers. That’s a psychologically unsafe environment.”
Hurley has found that the more people are driven by external rewards, usually money, the more dysfunctional the group tends to be. The financial and entertainment industries are particularly vulnerable.
He has lived and worked in New York, London and Tokyo. He also spent many years in Boston. His most recent foreign adventure was in Singapore, which he says is “like you take the Emerald City and put it on a tropical island.” He and his wife are now happy to call Sugar House home.
Hurley earned a doctorate in leadership from Walden University. He holds an MBA from the Katz School, University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor of science in economics from Gannon University. He has completed leadership programs at The Center for Creative Leadership, Harvard Business School and The Aspen Institute.
“You know where people would expect the ordinary you can find the extraordinary, which is really cool. A great thing about people is that we can surprise each other and ourselves kind of irrespective of the circumstances,” he said.
“My passion and my purpose is truly helping to develop more conscious leaders who recognize that people's well-being is as important as the bottom line.”
Sitting in Hurley’s affable presence, it’s easy to believe.