No leader is an island. Each is directly dependent on producing results through team. And smart leaders are always on the lookout to increase the productivity of their teams. Typically, there is a lot of emphasis placed on results and accountability. Holding team members accountable along with an acute focus on producing results are two characteristics exhibited by high performance teams.
Foundation of High Performance Teams
Accountability and results are obviously important, but there are several more characteristics that are critical, but are easily overlooked or misunderstood. The foundation of high performance teams is trust. Without trust, it is practically impossible to have the level and content of discussion between team members required to achieve optimal results. Without trust, spirited debate between team members becomes counter-productive conflict instead of productive conflict. Patrick Lencioni, in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” does a great job of illustrating how lack of trust and avoidance of conflict can cripple a team’s ability to produce results.
Specific Type of Commitment
Commitment is another characteristic that has a unique meaning in the context of high performance teams. In particular, high productive teams have commitment to team objectives and a commitment to other team members. For this to happen, objectives have to be clear. Effective leaders understand the importance of clear objectives and team buy-in. Effective teams have individuals that are willing to be committed to the objectives even if they do not personally agree with each and every objective. High performance teams also exhibit care for the individual. If someone on the team is struggling, others step in to offer their support, even if it is not their specific area of responsibility.
Appreciation for Differences
From my experience, the high performance teams I have been associated with have all had an understood respect for the unique talents of individual team members. Having people with different strengths makes for a stronger overall team. On the flip side, this can also be a source of tension, because of the different and sometimes opposing points of view of individual team members. High performance teams are able to have open communication and come to a decision. This doesn’t always mean that everyone agrees with the final decisions made. But, due to the commitment to the team and trust as described above, high performance teams can compromise when needed, make a decision, and keep moving forward.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
If you are dependent on producing results through teamwork, I highly recommend reading (or re-reading) and implementing the principals in “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”