When a group can collaborate well, a company can thrive. When a team struggles to work together, the company can suffer.
Often, one of the most challenging parts of leadership is finding a team of people who work well together. When a team can work effectively together, there is usually clarity, more wins and fewer bumps along the way.
But a great team isn’t made up of merely good chemistry and work ethic. In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins writes, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”
When supported with the right tools and communication, reliable and effective teams are attainable. It would be easy for us to string along a group of capable individuals, send them on their way and hope for the best. However, if we want teams to succeed and our companies to flourish, we need to be sure they are supported by the appropriate systems, values and visions.
Here are eight components that make up a winning team:
- Mutual respect. Your teams must start by having shared regard for one another. If they can’t respect each other, how can they work successfully together?
- Living by the company’s values. The culture, core values and expectations established by an organization set the pace for your team. But they can’t just exist. You must hold teams accountable to these expectations through how they manage their work and each other.
- Team ownership. Teams must be able to take ownership of both the vision and overall execution required to get desired results. For an organization to succeed, you shouldn’t have to spoon-feed your team or help them every step of the way. When a team can take ownership, they can take pride and find excitement in what they do.
- Clear direction. For teams to take full responsibility for the vision cast, you must help them understand your mission. When you can establish clarity of vision to your team, and that idea becomes a part of the everyday language, you’re heading in the right direction.
- A navigated “behavioral and cultural guardrail.” When Adam Bryant at The New York Times researched 500 different companies to discover the keys to making a team successful, setting cultural guardrails was key. “As a leader,” Bryant wrote, “you can take a laissez-faire approach and hope the team meshes well over time. Or you can look for opportunities to set some shared guidelines for how people will work together.” It takes extra work at the front but can save you a lot of stress in the grand scheme of things.
- A healthy balance of skills. As Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen wrote for Harvard Business Review, “Diversity in knowledge, views, and perspectives, as well as in age, gender, and race, can help teams be more creative and avoid groupthink.” A dynamic variety of skills can result in a high-performing team.
- Ample support. For your team to successfully move forward, they need the proper backing of their superiors. Teams are reassured to move forward when they are provided with the tools they need to perform their job sufficiently. Your vote of confidence also offers an extra boost of encouragement.
- Meaning and satisfaction of their role. A Google study in 2015 found that a key to a successful team is its impact. Does your organization believe that what they do truly matters? For a team to be able to give their job everything they have, they must fully understand and believe in the value of their contribution.
By setting these core values and clarity of expectations at the beginning, we allow our teams to be more productive, work more efficiently and become more unified.
Successful teams certainly aren’t made in a day. But when we can establish teams with the essential elements, we set them up with an advantage that every team should have from the get-go.