High-performing teams don’t just happen. Cohesive, highly functional teams are sculpted and nurtured by leaders who understand the multi-dimensional complexity of people working together. Like the dimensions for individual leadership, the key here is that there are multiple dimensions that need to be in synchronicity for the team to be at its best.
Here are nine characteristics that effective teams share.
The team has a clear sense of purpose. There is alignment around direction, priorities, and common objectives. People understand why the company exists, the purpose of the broader organization, and how their team contributes.
The team embraces a shared desire to evolve together. They want to work together and are committed to continually learning how to work together more effectively. As they improve, they create a virtuous circle of improved communication, improved collaboration, and improved results. Learn more in the article Team Dynamics: Learn, Improve, Repeat.
Active discussions are the norm and are peppered with a healthy level of diverse ideas and creative conflict. People like working together and trust each other. The team learns from its mistakes. See Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt to learn more.
Who are our customers and what are they hiring us to do? Everyone in the organization understands the customer and demonstrates relentless focus on serving them.
The organization resonates with energy and enthusiasm. People are motivated by progress, by success, and by producing results.
Commitment to Decisions
The team makes clear and timely decisions and moves forward with alignment from every member of the team, even those who were not originally in favor decision. There is a broad range of discussion leading up to decisions — invigorated by debate and dissent — followed by a firm commitment to decisions once everyone has been heard. See Diversity in Counsel … Unity in Command for more insights into how healthy conflict can lead to commitment and alignment.
While healthy conflict is a vital ingredient of any highly functional team, there is an inherent risk that the conflict will tear the team apart. To overcome that risk, the best teams exhibit a level of cohesion that holds them together in the face of the creative conflict. The “glue” that keeps the team from pulling itself apart is an overt commitment to wanting to work together.
Team members understand, appreciate, and leverage each another’s skills and experiences. Team members know how to work together to great effect and honor individual preferences during communications. There is a commitment not only to the team’s purpose but a shared commitment to each other and one another’s growth.
Team members respect one another and hold each other to the same high standards. Progress and needs are visible so resources can be balanced dynamically.
The team produces results and satisfies customers. Failures are suffered acutely and learned from quickly.