The Power Of An HBDIⓇ Team Session

Towards the end of last year I was looking forward to working with the leadership team of a charitable organisation. The new Managing Director, who had recently joined the business, knew that the established, experienced team he had in place could be even more effective, productive and fulfilled, if they worked together better. The very distinct differences amongst the team could sometimes be a challenge and he knew they could be used to far greater effect if that diversity was valued and appreciated.

With the charity needing to grow significantly, making this a high performing and high-functioning team was seen by the MD as being critical, not a “nice to do”. We agreed that a HBDIⓇ (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument) session, exploring the team’s differences using Whole Brain ThinkingⓇ was what was needed.

Outcomes the MD wanted to achieve from this Team Session were to have them work together, to appreciate and respect team differences and understand how those differences, when used constructively, would help achieve the organisation’s growth objectives. Using the HBDIⓇ as a base would also provide a common language that would help the team to have difficult conversations focused on the objective situation, not the individuals involved.

In our training team members we sometimes use this mat – each colour that represents their thinking preferences. Standing on here as a team can be enlightening!

The first step was for each member of the team to understand themselves better, how their thinking preferences work and how their thinking drives their emotions, behaviour and the way they communicate with their colleagues – both normally and under stress. 

All team members completed an HBDIⓇ profile ahead of the session, which comprised of two halves. The first was to ensure that they understood the Whole Brain ThinkingⓇ model and their own profiles (in normal and stress situations ), how they compared with their colleagues and how they manifested those thinking preferences based on their own and their colleagues’ perceptions. The second part was to take that individual knowledge and greater self-awareness and understand what that looked like as a team – what the team strengths and potential blind spots were likely to be, based on their profiles.

The day itself was interesting on several levels. First of all, we had to build the training room.  However much preparation is done ahead of time there are always things that you don’t anticipate. The group went with it and perched on high stools around a “table” we had created, sitting them in order, going from left to right-brained, based on my knowledge of their profiles.

With just a few open questions and facilitated discussions participants very quickly got the “so what” and “why does it matter” about the significance of their thinking preferences. 

The second half of the process proved quite cathartic. Using the framework of the model, difficult conversations were had in the room that had been avoided or thought not worth the effort because “nothing ever changes” or “he/she never listens”.

These cards help participants explore their thinking preferences more deeply.

There are inevitably lumpy parts of any session where people go from enjoying learning the model, understanding how their profiles can explain aspects of their behaviour and relationships, to bringing it together as a team and stepping into their colleagues’ preferences in order to accommodate their way of thinking. Without these, the sessions would have less impact and less likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes.

As a result of this particular Team Session, the HBDIⓇ language has been adopted and used during meetings and in individual conversations whilst particular individuals who were struggling to communicate with each other have made more effort as they understand the difficulties they had aren’t personal and weren’t about them. One individual, who is integral to the day-to-day work done by the charity, is now more valued by colleagues and more integrated into the team. At the Trustee Meeting a few weeks after the session, trustees commented that the interaction between team members was palpably different and more supportive than previously. 

Strategically, the clarity that the session achieved in terms of how to achieve the vision and ensure the charity’s future was of great significance. The MD told me, “I need the trustees to help with the future focus as this team on its own isn’t best placed to do that – I now know just what support I need to look for from outside”.

Working with teams using the HBDIⓇ (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument) as a foundation is always enlightening and it’s always a joy watching how profiles play out during a session. Every team is different and every individual’s HBDIⓇ profile is different, even if superficially some appear similar. 

Do you see an opportunity for greater interpersonal understanding, collaboration, and effectiveness in your team? Drop me a line at