The Secret Of A Great Team

A table football game

As a leadership coach, I observe a lot of teams. These can be at the CEO level of a company or the lowest working levels. Their performance varies greatly. Some seem to have that magic. You can tell they work well together, and enjoy doing it. For others, it is a chore and the less they have to work together the better. Why is this?

Is There A Secret Ingredient?

A common belief is a team either gels or doesn’t. In other words, it is down to luck. Some combinations work well and others don’t. Amy Edmondson has written extensively about the practice of teaming. These are the behaviors required for a team to perform well. I won’t document these behaviors in this post, you can check them out here and they help, but there is more.

Team 1, Team 2

Patrick Lencioni outlined a different concept called Team 1, Team 2. Of late, I have come to believe this is as important as Edmonson’s teaming behaviors. When leadership teams are formed, team members represent their teams or functions. Imagine a CEO’s team where there will be Sales & Marketing, Design, Production, Finance, Human Resources, etc. Each team member will represent one of these functions on the CEO’s team. Lencioni’s concept says the team members each need to put the needs of the overall team of the CEO ahead of each of their functions.

This is a big challenge, especially when egos are at play. Each team member is being asked to put the team first ahead of themselves and trust they will benefit. It requires them to trust their peers on the team. They have sometimes to accept their function will be less well-off to allow the team to achieve a better overall outcome. When trust is low, this is not likely to happen.

The Key Role Of The Team Leader

How do you make this happen? This is the key role of the team leader. They have a unique perspective. They don’t manage a single function, they get to see all of them and are uniquely positioned to promote the overall benefit of the team. The team leader must consistently put the needs of the team first. No playing favorites. No sharing the benefits so everyone feels equal. They have to make the hard decisions always putting the overall team first.

Do you always put the overall team first? Are you willing to subordinate your functions needs to benefit the whole?

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