Introduction

It’s helpful to have a working model of what we think is going on in team development. In this post we touch on what it takes to become a high performance team, and the role of the team leader as the key differentiator in creating high-performing, high-learning teams.

A working definition

First, to our working definition of a team:

A number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

It’s a short definition, but with a lot in it.

In the CharacterScope platform there are resources to give you many different angles and approaches to working with your team and helping the team develop, but they are all in the service of helping you create:

  • a common purpose
  • commitment and motivation
  • clear performance goals
  • a disciplined approach to performance and development
  • complementarity between team members – people willing and able to get the best from each other
  • willingness to be held accountable to each other

The promise of teams vs the problems of teams

If you achieve this, the evidence clearly shows that high performance teams are the engine of the agile, fast-moving organisation. They’re characterised by:

  • Achieving more and faster – scaling greater heights
  • Increased quality of decision-making and implementation
  • Increased creativity
  • Creating self-sustaining vitality and energy
  • Creating camaraderie, a strong sense of belonging and people working for each other
  • Greater than the sum of its parts
  • Strongly developmental for all team members
  • Highly effective external relationships with colleagues and stakeholders

Yet it’s not simply a one-way street with everything being good news.

Poorly managed, poorly led teams show consistent and troubling problems:

  • High risk of poor decision-making and judgement
  • Team meetings and processes are expensive and slow
  • The team together is less creative than the individuals in it
  • People can feel their weaknesses are exposed unhelpfully
  • Loss of credibility of team leader and a sense of mission-drift
  • Slow down individual accomplishment – diffusion of responsibility
  • Damaged relationships and eroded trust
  • Within-group friction, and individuals feeling left-out
  • Competitive, dismissive relationships with stakeholders and other teams

The difference: good leadership

What makes the difference? Why do some teams deliver on the promise of teams whereas others are plagued by the pitfalls?

Again, the evidence is clear: the team leader plays the key role in creating and sustaining the performance of the team. Sure, the capabilities of the team colleagues matters but right at the core, good leadership is the key differentiator.

As the leader of your team, you may find this an uncomfortable realisation. But it highlights the importance of your own leadership development and why CharacterScope ties together your individual leadership journey into the developmental journey for your team.

Your continuing development will fuel the development of your team and the team’s development will push your personal development along. It’s why we see good leadership as creating win-win’s: good leadership creates leadership in others, which in turn creates work-places where people work productively and flourish personally.