As we keep growing in our careers, leaders continue to find themselves part of many different types of teams. Some teams seem to run smoothly while others can feel fairly dysfunctional. I have worked with both kinds of teams in organizations for many years and have thought about what contributes to a high performing team. What are the characteristics of a team that not only is highly productive but also has strong team member bonds? What makes some teams more desirable to be part of while others want to make us jump ship?
I have always believed that when a team is at its best it is unstoppable in how it responds to daily challenges or even crises. One of the fun formulas I share in teamwork programs to define a magical team is: 1+1=3. Everyone laughs at first but then thinks about why this happens. After an interactive conversation we land on an important concept-a team of leaders can achieve far more together than each working on their own. And yes, each team member can lead from wherever they are regardless of their title or position.
What goes into a team where its members want to belong?
What does a balanced team of leaders look like?
1. Foundation of Trust
Without trust, a team has nothing. At the root of any healthy relationship is trust. If team members trust one another to be honest and feel they can depend on each other, a strong team floor is built. That initial layer of trust will allow individuals to share truthful feedback and allow themselves to be vulnerable. Creating a culture of trust means:
- Encouraging each person to bring their authentic self to the workspace.
- Following through on what you say you will do.
- Being approachable and open to different opinions.
- Never having a hidden agenda.
2. Clear Vision
For team members to be able to row their oars in the same direction it is essential to have a clear vision of where the team is headed. That vision must be communicated in a precise way and understood by all members. Whatever project or assignment is undertaken, that vision needs to be honored. Read the vision with the team of leaders all together and ask for feedback or concerns. This will be time well spent and result in less confusion.
3. Respect For Each Member
A balanced team knows the power of respectful connections. It can take a little adjustment to having team members see the value in earning respect and showing respect. Remember that respect is a two-way street. Leaders create a culture of respect by being:
- Openminded, not judgmental.
- Listening to completely understand.
- Compassionate and kind.
- Stepping up when things get tough.
4. Diversity of Strengths
Studies have shown that building a team of diverse leaders will result in more impactful outcomes. The key to designing a balanced team is making sure different talents and strengths are represented. Begin that process by taking a deep dive into what each leader brings to the table. Maybe one team member is stronger at data analysis and can drill down important information and inferences from the numbers. Another person may be a natural presenter or people person. Every skill and talent is critical to a meaningful result.
5. Helping Each Other Grow
What better way to develop leaders and a team than by intentionally making learning a real priority. Professional development is one of the secret ingredients to showing team members how much you value their contributions. There are so many exciting ways to promote learning and here are a few:
- Create a formal mentorship program.
- Encourage team members to share their fails and what lessons they learned.
- Offer leadership training in areas of communication, team building, problem solving and decision-making.
- Identify leaders who may benefit from coaching and hire a coach.
- Ask team members about their career dreams and interests.
How have you created a balanced team of leaders? What does your team look like?