Most of us have been on a sports team in our life. Your family is a team. You’re part of a team at work. If you’ve ever been part of a successful team, all six of these things were there . . .
- Common Purpose –Teams exist for a purpose. Effective teams are focused on their reason for existence. Their purpose elevates the motivation of the members, pulling their hearts together for something that matters to them all.
- Accepted Leadership –There’s a clear leader, and everyone accepts their leadership. Ask anyone on the team who the leader is, they’ll tell you. Note this doesn’t say loved, revered, or admired. For the team to work, there is a leader, and everyone is on board with it.
- Specialization of Labor– Effective teams happen when individuals are placed in roles they’re really good at . . . when their unique skills and talents get applied to a specific job. Great teams happen when diverse people get sprayed into disparate jobs but together, create something special.
- Good Relationships– Team members don’t have to be best friends. They just need to have healthy, respectful relationships. When members of a team get caught up in criticism, personality conflicts, rumors, and egos, the team suffers.
- Agreed-Upon Plan and Process– Effective teams operate in a certain way. There’s a process . . . like a recipe. Everyone knows what’s to be done and who’s to do it . . . the when, where, and how. The military calls them rules of engagement. Every team member knows their role and the process.
- Good Communication– People screw up. Machines break. Delays happen. Events occur. On effective teams, communication is fast and efficient. Bad news is delivered early and without fear. Information goes up and down the organization just as easily as between team members. There’s high trust in the process and each other.
Find a team where these factors are in place, and you’ll find a pretty effective one.
This doesn’t guarantee a winning team. The talent level of your team may not be as high as others. The market you’re in might be undergoing a structural change. You may not have the patents your competitors have. Your team may lack capital or have geographic/demographic disadvantages. You may not have as much capital . . . many variables drive winning and losing in the larger scheme of things. But more often than not, looking at these characteristics can help a leader figure out what’s wrong with a team and where they need to start in making it better.
Scripture: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
(My friend Pat MacMillan taught me about teams years and years ago. Thank you, Pat!)