What makes a great team? That’s the question I asked more than 50 Scottish business leaders recently at a Scottish Enterprise workshop in Glasgow.
Most of us have been lucky enough to have been part of good teams throughout our professional and personal lives. However, every once in a while we find ourselves part of a great team.
So what is it that great teams have in common that raises them above being simply good?
I’ve identified eight indicators of a great group. Most extraordinary groups exhibit four or five of these and they vary from team to team:
Compelling purpose - Great teams have this, and each individual in the team knows what this is and buys into it – although what makes it compelling can be different for different team members.
Shared leadership - everyone in the team feels empowered to speak. There is shared responsibility for delivering the outcomes that everyone wants to achieve and everyone is motivated to do their individual best and best for the team – it’s not just about what the boss says!
Just enough structure - teams are structured for outcomes rather than doing it a certain way because they are supposed to. It may not fit a standard format or model, but it works for them because it has been shaped for fit, more organic than mechanical.
Full engagement – engagement goes beyond the job description. Engaged individuals step outside their regular job to make things successful, people enjoy working hard together, they willingly give – and then give more!
Embrace differences – there is often a natural aversion to conflict but if you let the opinions of dedicated team members be heard there is often great value to be derived. Differences create opportunities. Recognising and discussing all points between two opposing opinions can create new and different options.
Significant learning – stretching to learn builds the confidence of the team and its individuals. Learning together is often exciting, regardless of whether the learning is deliberate or accidental, and can generate great sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Strengthened relationships – great work often leads to great partnerships. By risking and succeeding together, people count on each other – great work creates great bonds
Great results – both tangible (what the sponsor recognises) and intangible (individuals feel ‘better’ as a result of being on the team). Celebrating successes and results along the way can also build momentum.
The people attending the workshop agreed that there is a single difference between a good team, and a great team. And this difference is that extraordinary groups create opportunities for personal transformation while delivering outstanding results.