4 Key Behaviors for Building and Leading Teams

Amy C. Edmonson’s recently published insightful, and impressive book “Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy” refocuses on 4 behaviors that drive team success:

  • Speaking Up“- honest, direct conversation between team members
  • Collaboration“- both within the team and outside the team parameters
  • Experimentation“- the understanding that all team interaction is laced with opportunity for newness and tentativeness based on human interaction and misinterpretation
  • Reflection“- consistent ability to assess, create new processes, and review team outcomes for future learning and success

It is this speaking up behavior that fascinates me because so much of today’s organizations seem to be paralyzed by fear. Most of the time it centers around the boorish team mate who everyone on the team knows is behaving badly; dominating meetings, refusing to cooperate, bullying others, driving their own secret agendas and somehow these folks end up staying for the duration even sometimes earning a promotion to move them up and out. Is it all because people fear speaking up in the workplace?

Years ago, my 25-year retail career led me to observe first hand the impact this type of situation can have on a team. A new leader had come into a team with some really high handed tactics, a secretive agenda, and a reputation for being brilliant, and perfect for her new role. Only her team seemed to know how often she made up data or fabricated stories to continue her reputation as a wizard in the marketplace. That is until one day, she was promoted to a role she did not really qualify for, but landed due to her bosses praise of how ready she was for the new assignment. A short time later, she ended up unsuccessfully leaving for a new company. Her boss seemed to know without anyone speaking up what the real story was behind the leaders performance, but the notion of how hard it was to speak up still sticks with me today as our firm works with leaders and teams on team building for executives.