How do I build an effective team in the workplace?

In our work with teams, it seems more art than science when it comes to understanding what makes a team really effective. Indeed, it is not the smartest teams, or the most productive teams that seem to thrive in today’s dynamic ever-changing corporate worlds. It is the teams that seem to get these 5 things right:

  • They embrace a shared leadership model vs. a traditional rank and file approach
  • They create a place of safety for the team members
  • They encourage accountability among the team members
  • They have a compelling vision
  • They relentlessly drive towards their vision

For a team to be successful in today’s workplace requires a challenge of the old school of thought towards leadership. Team leadership is about all leaders of the team feeling they can co-lead. Rather than knowing one’s place, it means recognizing and speaking up around issues that govern the team. It means caring enough about the way the team is being managed that you feel compelled to help drive the team to higher functionality. The best way for this to happen is for the appointed leader to sit down and share his/her view of the team’s need for a new form of leadership and to generate a discussion around the new behaviors the team will need to be successful. And, for the same discussion to yield what behaviors will the team have to say good-bye to in order to share the leadership going forward.

Not long ago, we worked with a leader and his team who were frustrated by the team’s lack of “shared leadership”. This leader knew that he could not continue to lead in the old “command and control” manner. He could see that if the needed dramatic changes were going to happen on his team, they would have to see themselves capable as a total team of stepping up and leading at a higher level. He arranged an off-site for all eight members to come together to talk about what the team could do to lead differently. It was not easy work, but all agreed, they stood a better chance of driving their vision for the future from a new framework of shared leadership. The team also made it clear to the leader the things he would have to guard against in the process. Each member was able to clearly articulate their own value to the team and the role they would play for the future. 

Does your team know how to cultivate a shared leadership perspective or are you still stuck with an old framework of command and control?