It’s a kind of magic. Or is it?

Soul Trained
3 min readJun 30, 2021

Having already shared our thoughts on how leaders can bring Soul Trained’s values of relevance, nerve, tenacity, and kindness to life, here we talk about our 5th — and arguably most magical — value, alchemy.

Alchemy is the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter through a process of heat and pressure. In the world of work, there’s tons of heat and there is no shortage of pressure, but if leaders can learn one lesson from the alchemical process, it is the need for a container that can hold the heat and pressure.

With safe, reliable, and clear boundaries around collaboration, decision-making, and working autonomously, the process of transformation and the attainment of high performance can be most profound.

Here are some top tips on operationalizing alchemy in your leadership:

Collaboration: Dr. Meredith Belbin, the brilliant thinker and originator of the Team Roles model, once said, “Nobody’s perfect, but a team can be.” and in doing so highlighted the importance of people working together to get the job done. We think Belbin’s use of the word ‘team’ over ‘group’ is important. Anyone can bring a group of people together, but not everyone can turn a group into a team.

One of Soul Trained’s BFFs, PlanetK2*, are experts in the creation of high performing teams and they share 3 important characteristics that differentiate a team from a group:

  • Why?: Teams have a tangible uniting purpose which helps the team to decide what to focus on and what not to focus on.
  • What?: Teams have clearly articulated measures of success which serve as feedback loops and enable moment-by-moment course corrections.
  • How?: Teams establish behavioral norms that each member buys-into because they know that these norms will lead to the realization of the team’s ‘Why?’ and their ‘What?

Role Clarity: the thing about alchemy is that every ingredient and each piece of apparatus used in the process of transformation has absolute role clarity; they each know how to precisely play that role in order to achieve the end result. The alchemical crucible doesn’t one-day wake up and try its hand at being the fire because that simply wouldn’t lead to gold.

The same principle applies with members of a team. Each member must be crystal clear on their role. This isn’t about job descriptions. What we’re talking about goes beyond a description of accountabilities and into a practice of establishing collective awareness in order to enable response-ability**.

Alchemy happens when leaders assist their team members to appreciate and understand the personal attributes each one brings and enables clarity on what each person on the team needs from others in the pursuit of their role.

Decision Making: Our final tip for an alchemical team is that of decision making clarity. Leaders who can help their teams have clarity on how, when, and by whom decisions are made and leaders who can support their teams to move forward with alignment without the need for consensus agreement, will inevitably have see higher levels of performance.

*Sign-up to PlanetK2’s FREE resource, The Performance Room, to gain access to a treasure trove of insight and a plethora of tools that support the growth of a high performance mindset.

**We hyphenate the words ‘response’ and ‘ability’ instead of using the word ‘responsibility’ to draw attention to the importance of being able to respond to situations versus being seduced by the impulse to react.

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Soul Trained

Your go-to experts in executive coaching and leadership growth