The Keys to Any Great Team

Dr. John Townsend

August 19, 2019

Life, job and just about anything work better when we’re on teams. There is an enormous amount of research on the power of great teamwork. Whether it be an executive group, a sales and marketing team, or a team of parents coordinating for a kids’ soccer league, teams make matters better. I never thought I would write a blog with the cliché, “Team Work makes the Dream Work”, but it’s actually true! We accomplish more together than by ourselves, and with the right teammates, we are also happier and more engaged.

I’ll be writing a book on the power of teams, and here is my model of the 4 aspects of any great one. Check them out, and see which of the 4 is one you can implement within your own team to make things run lots better:

Conviction: When we have conviction, we are guided by our mission and core values, as opposed to our feelings for the moment, or the stresses and glitches of the day. Teams that have conviction are clear in their mission, for example, “We are here to make Acme Tech more productive.” And they are clear on the “compass” of their values, such as excellence, quality and taking care of people. Great teams keep mission and values front and center. They talk about them. They make decisions based on them. They keep them relevant.

Cohesiveness: A great team connects, which is what the word means, connection. They bond to each other and care about each other. There is a big difference between a team that is functionally cohesive, and one that is relationally cohesive. Functional cohesion is basically about reliability and dependability in task. It’s important and necessary. But functional cohesion alone will never create a great team, only a good one. A great team is not only functionally cohesive, but relationally cohesive, meaning personally and emotionally connected. The members are vulnerable with each other, with no fear of judgment or “scorekeeping.” They give and receive energy and positivity with each other.

Clarity: Teams need role clarity. Each person needs to know what their tasks and job description are, and how to stay in their lane. Then they are more effective and efficient. And you avoid the problem of someone neglecting what is unique to their responsibilities, and going to a lane where the other person is already working. Which sort of annoys the other person as well. Clarity is king.

Candor. When a team has conviction, cohesiveness and clarity, these make it safe enough to have the honest and frank conversations. A great team gives and receives feedback that is both positive and negative, though respectful as well. We benefit when someone says, “Hey, we have a problem here.” You don’t want the mission to be sidelined because no one spoke up, for fear of disrupting things. Candor helps a team disrupt in a positive direction.

Teams are a great way to not only get things done, but to also feel like you’re part of something larger than you, and that has purpose. Here’s to your great team.


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