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I have a talentcrush on Edoardo Binda Zane: “People become a team by dropping down their ego”

Edoardo Binda Zane is a teambuilding and leadership coach. Communication and impro theatre is his passion. He is combining techniques from both fields for his training to make people more self-aware. Whenever we engage with others there is so much more going on than we realize: there is listening, there is perspective-taking, reading and using body language, there are turns of leading and following you need to respect in each interaction. Edoardo uncovers this patters in his training and helps participants to connect and link them.

What is your professional background and how come you became a trainer/coach for successful team collaboration?

Originally I come from consulting — specifically renewable energy policy — and I’ve done it for about 7 years.

It’s been exactly what I had wanted to do and it made me happy for a long while until my perspective started to change. See, my drive has always been to have an impact with what I do, and I had the feeling that even though the job I was doing was great, it could have been so much better if we had been able to go straight to the point of the problem and address it. Instead, there were bureaucratic times and structures to deal with, at times leaning onto politics, and that made me less and less convinced of my work.

In the meantime, though, I had started doing improvisational comedy theatre here in Berlin — improv for short — and I quickly noticed how big of an impact this had on my personal and professional life, to the point that after a few years I decided to make a shift: from trying to impact environmental policy and having little control on the result in the end to impacting others and making their professional life better and having full control on what I could do.

How can people become a team?

Short answer: by dropping down their ego completely.

It’s an easy concept, and probably something everyone has heard before. The point is: in order to be able to do that well, repeatedly and consistently, you need to invest work and time on it — and that is easier said than done.

We are all ready to drop our ego when things are going well within the team, but throw in a curveball (a bad financial situation, possible layoffs, new competitors, key team element leaves) and everyone’s focus reverts straight back to themselves to protect what they have.

It’s normal, it’s how we work, but if you want to stick together as a team even in those conditions, you need to be able to always keep the focus on others, and not bring it back on yourself. Go through the process a few times and you’ll replicate it easily, but you need to put in the work first!

There is, of course, the easy way around it, which is called a yearly team building event. You can do it and tick it off your checklist, so on paper, it’s all done and taken care of, but it all depends on whether you want to have stronger people working with you or not.

What are the success factors for great teams?

1 — Being aware of others.

Unless your focus is on them, you will never be able to contribute to the team with what your teammates need. Start by observing more, the rest will come.

2 — Recognizing who the leader is at any moment.

Regardless of who is the appointed leader, everyone has a different skill set, and someone else might have the one the team needs the most in a specific condition. At that point, that is the team leader, follow that person and when conditions change, let the leader change as well.

3 — Having fun and being silly.

This one might seem odd, but I can’t stress enough how important this is: give each other permission to be stupid, to laugh, to make fun of each other and everything will be better. Often people reply to this point with “we can’t, it’s not serious”, which is of course wrong! Fun, humor and stupidity are very, very serious — they are just not formal. Being formal has absolutely no use when it comes to good teamwork or even leadership, it just adds unnecessary layers and burdens, but it’s desirable because it makes people feel safe and distanced from others — and is that really something you’d want your team to grow into?

What is important in successful team communication?

Keeping each other going. Everything I train and I mentioned above is easy to grasp, very hard to implement. There will always be moments in which you aren’t able to perform with others as you’d wish, to be sufficiently aware or take others’ perspective. When that happens, you can only rely on your teammates to help you out by coming your way — and knowing that is a massive safety net to have. Of course, then, it will be up to you to do the same when someone else is not up to par.

In other words, look out for each other and keep that dynamic working; good communication will be a consequence of that.

Do team dynamics have an influence on the company’s employer brand?

Definitely! Good branding — paraphrasing Seth Godin — comes out of being remarkable, in terms of “being worth making a remark about”. If every single person that is working for you or has worked for you becomes an ambassador of how incredible your work culture and environment is, your brand will grow — and because everything that is being said about how you work is true, it will acquire even more power to the ears of any listener.

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Interested in coaching with Edoardo? Find more information here.

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Marian Jarzak

Marian Jarzak

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