The Superconductive Team

How to improve performance by increasing team flow

The Secret to Great Teams

Look at the picture above. What do you see? Racial diversity? Age diversity? Cookies?

Look again, this time focusing on people’s eyes.

The highest-performing teams don’t excel because they are great at sales, engineering, or marketing.

They excel because they listen actively to each other. They make it safe for everyone to be honest. They normalize empathy, vulnerability, and trust.

This creates a feeling of flow that bonds people together. The team becomes SUPERCONDUCTIVE — moving at great speed with no emotional friction. It’s an experience that changes everyone who feels it, made clear in the following true story.

The “Sheer Beauty” of Team Flow

On his death bed, when Olympic rower Joe Rantz reflected on winning the eight-oared rowing race at the 1936 Olympics, it wasn’t the gold medal that made him tear up in joy, or beating the German team in front of Adolf Hitler, or representing America on the world stage.

What made him emotional was the feeling of being on that team. As author Daniel James Brown wrote in The Boys in the Boat:

“It was a shared experience — a singular thing that had unfolded in a golden sliver of time long gone, when nine good-hearted young men strove together, pulled together as one, gave everything they had for one another, bound together forever by pride and respect and love. Joe was crying, at least in part, for the loss of that vanished moment but much more, I think, for the sheer beauty of it.”

– The Boys in the Boat

The sheer beauty of being part of a superconductive team.

This doesn’t just produce happier people. It produces better performance, because it unleashes the deepest levels of commitment and service. Before there were titles, before there was money, there was the tribe. As humans, we are hardwired to outperform when we are part of a closely knit tribe.

But this is not a given. In order for a team to become Superconductive, certain things have to happen, and certain other things have to stop happening.

The Curse of Star Talent

You might ask, “But what about talent? In order to reach the next level of performance and growth, don’t we just need to recruit or develop better talent?

In sports like baseball, yes. Every action is isolated. People play on a team, but not as a team. Stars make a difference.

But most jobs today are less like baseball and more like rowing, with team members working together on shared goals.

What happens when leaders treat rowing like baseball? (What if rowing went Moneyball?)

When the fastest rowers are put in the same boat, they lose to a boat filled with slower rowers who are better at pulling together.

The same thing is true in the workplace. A team of all “rock stars” struggles with ego and in-fighting, but teams with less exceptional talent collaborate, re-think, and generate better results.

For jobs that require collaboration, team flow is not the icing on the cake — it’s the cake.

Improving performance is not about the WHAT (outcomes), the WHO (talent), or the WHY (purpose). It’s about the HOW — how deeply people connect to each other.

Superconductivity is the ultimate competitive advantage because it helps everyone bring out the best in themselves and each other.

And it’s a result of specific and trainable skills.

Superconductivity is the ultimate competitive advantage, because it helps everyone bring out the best in themselves and each other.
And it’s a result of specific and trainable skills.

The Hard Case for Soft Skills

If you want to know how greater flow can help your business, ask yourself:

• How skilled are team members at giving and receiving feedback frequently, without anyone feeling called out, put down, or made an example of?

• Do people sweep issues under the rug? Are there any signs of built-up friction and strain?

• Is everybody bought into personal growth as a pathway to team (revenue) growth?

This matters less for small teams of 3 or 4 people. But as team size and complexity increases, there are more opportunities for friction because of blind spots, defensiveness, and ego. Team size can become a liability instead of an asset.

Superconductive teams want high intellectual friction, but low emotional friction. They argue over decisions, but with humility and respect. Team size becomes an asset again as people learn how to speak, listen, and reflect, improving ideas together without blame or fear of repercussions.

The Superconductive Team helps you get there faster by teaching each team member to:

  • turn unresolved emotional friction into fuel for greater clarity and trust
  • prioritize the two most important qualities for strong leadership — humility and drive
  • align their growth as a person with what the business and team need from them
  • practice specific skills that increase psychological safety and flow
  • extend tools at home (if desired) so their loved ones also have greater flow and your team members are undistracted

The program meets each team member where he or she is, and helps them get to the next level of personal development using evidence-based, practical tools.

Program Format

The Superconductive Team is an online program that all team members have access to, supported by regular in-person team discussions and virtual coaching support. (In special markets, a live in-person version may be offered to select qualified teams.)

Enrollment is for the full team, for a full year. It will take time and practice to integrate the exercises and make them part of the team’s shared new skill set.

Time Commitment

• Each team member must commit to a minimum of 30 minutes a week engaging the online training content on their own. This is PERSONAL SUPERCONDUCTIVITY training. Nothing will change for the team if each individual doesn’t also change.

• Each team must also commit to a minimum of 45 minutes a week engaging together in specific team-based exercises. This is TEAM SUPERCONDUCTIVITY training, separate from the individual content and separate from regular business meetings.

90% of the program’s long-term value comes from these compounding weekly “deposits” that change the feeling of the team and take everyone to the next level of growth. But it’s not magic. You get out of it what you put into it. Teams unprepared to work on themselves are not a fit.

But can’t we just increase revenue/talent/candor first?

To see why talent-first isn’t optimal for interdependent teams, re-read The Boys in the Boat and pay close attention to the struggles that the UW crew coaches had when they believed that talent mattered most.

Also look at the ’36 Olympics German coaches, who combed the countryside to find the most talented individuals.

It doesn’t work the way you think. Superconductivity requires less ego. Increasing revenue, talent, and candor first can produce more ego, which delays the connectivity you really want.

For a more relatable case study from the business world, read about Google’s experiences with Project Aristotle, and see how Google learned the hard way that great teams aren’t simply talented individuals (the WHO) with shared purpose (the WHY).

Great teams are about the HOW: How do people feel about each other? How passionate are they — not about clients or deals or money, but about the team itself?

Until everyone feels like the greatest gift in their professional life is being part of this team, there is still room to improve people’s skills and mindsets.

Interested in learning more?

We are currently piloting the Superconductive Team program with select teams. Contact us to be informed of opportunities to participate.