We have all been a part of great teams that clearly outperform other teams in the organization. A team that has amazing chemistry, synergy, energy levels and high productivity. If we were to ask people to list down the key ingredients of effective teams they have been a part of, it would read somewhat like this
Highly effective and cohesive teams
- They have a collaborative culture where individual team members are generous with sharing their knowledge and resources to make their colleagues successful.
- They have a common vision and shared goals and everyone is bought into those and with a willingness to assume responsibility when needed.
- It’s a team where innovation thrives with a high degree of experimentation and with no fear of failure.
- These are the teams which have diversity of thought, culture and values, but which eventually cumulate into a unity of action. It thrives on bringing in thinking from the best of all worlds to a solution
- Teams where individuals feel that their leader has their back when things don’t work out, but showers credit when things do work out.
- Teams where no single person is bigger than the team. Where teams thrive on honesty, integrity, a sense of mutual respect and trust for each other. And there is always an avenue of managing conflict.
The importance of leadership
Obviously the leader of the team plays an important role in creating the right environment and circumstances for effective teams to thrive.
A leader needs to communicate a clear and actionable vision and goals for the team. Define roles and responsibilities so that people collaborate instead of running into each other. At the same time leave enough flexibility for team members to expand their roles and responsibility areas. The leader needs to protect and shield his or her flock when they fail and shower them with all the credit when things do work out.
Maturity of effective teams
But there is one important component that only mature teams have and that is the ability for everyone to be accountable to each other. This is the stage when team members are challenging and encouraging their colleagues to even higher levels of performance than what they already are at. This is truly when the performance of the team goes up significantly and many notches above the other teams. It’s hard to get to state where there are such high levels of trust among the team members where any feedback or input is taken as a means to better their effectiveness rather than take it as a threat or a personal attack. Again, the leader plays a very important role in getting the team at this mature level. The leader needs to set the example by being open to be accountable to the team, before he or she asks that from the team itself. The leader needs to build robust mechanisms of conflict management that creates a safety net where team members feel that they can truly express themselves and give feedback across the team. A team where there is accountability to each other across, above and below, this is the Gold standard to building a world class organization that delivers the best overall results.