Our last entry started a discussion on teams, so this week I am starting a series about team dynamics. A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Teams typically have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Team members like to feel like they are a valuable member of the team, and each has a perceived and real assignment within the team. Ideally, the perceived and real match. When that all works its magic.
The primary difference I see between regular teams and High-Performance teams is how ridged they stick to the rules. High-Performance Teams have well-defined goals that are in agreement with the overall expectations or vision for the team. This is often not the case, and a team is just a gathering of skills to get a job done. Just as important as the mission of the team is the culture of the team. High-Performance Team members identify with the team and are proud of it. Members place the team first and know that team effort is key to overall success. They celebrate the accomplishments of the team and recognize the contributions of members. This is different than regular teams. Notice that a High-Performance team celebrates the team’s success but only recognize contributions.
High-Performance Teams are constantly learning and continuously improving. True transparency allows a team to quickly adapt to unexpected events. Each member knows what is important and each member is committed to action. They are clear about what results they are committed to and they review and measure results frequently. They quickly resolve conflicts and move forward. A key element of the culture is the realization that trust is an essential ingredient. They communicate openly. They believe in a feedback culture, actively giving and seeking feedback. Many times I have seen teams that are not like this, especially in “professional” groups where each member is seeking success and recognition for themselves.
Sometimes ego gets in the way. Since all the members have knowledge of all elements of the mission assigned, sometimes a member will expand their role beyond their assignment. Gradually they start to take over roles. I have found teams that were really one active member with a lot of assistants. It is no longer a team. As this happens, members become disenfranchised and dropout. It was not unusual to find members waiting for orders and doing nothing. The team starts to lose synergy, and effectiveness drops. The perceived or real leader pushes harder for control, and the team dissolves.
It is the job of the leader to make sure that all members are participants, and it is the team that gets external recognition. Both overzealous and nonparticipants should be removed or reassigned from the team. That is why I see skilled people pulled from teams. They can be valuable assets, just not team players.
I believe that becoming a leader is a journey. You start as an employee. If you know how you will have a job is a saying that I remember from college. As an employee, you would have skills, and you would understand the job. As you excel in the job, you get promoted to a management position. A manager understands the business plan, has a common purpose, good communication skills, and maturity. The saying that goes with this would be if you know why you will be the boss.
That brings us to leadership. If you can see the future, you will be the leader. That means you understand the strategic plan. A leader will have team spirit, passion, and empathy. Team spirit is when you really feel invested in reaching a goal together and are there to support each other. Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards the vision expressed in the strategic plan and the mission of the team. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference.
The leaders will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your business, team, or even a country. The managers control resources and will have a direct impact on the efficiency of your business. While leaders and managers impact all aspects of your business, the skill level and attitude of your employees or staff will have a direct impact on your return-on-investment.
Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.