“Teamwork divides the task and doubles the chance of success”.
There are many formal definitions on teamwork but the one that explains itself best, for the purpose of this article, is not a definition but the acronym for TEAM, which is “Together Everyone Achieves More”. This acronym becomes a reality when the foundation among the group is trust, accountability and there is collaboration.
Individuals in teams that work well together can create value but these high performing teams don’t automatically come together and perform. Yes, they are self sustaining but not necessarily self driven. In the article by Phil Harkins on the ‘10 leadership techniques for building high performance teams’ the main ingredient for a high performance team, is the leadership and the actions of the leader.
Leaders are responsible for results and people, having a high performing team is the way to getting great results and leadership that help bring the best out of the team have a clear vision and strategy and they create a trusting environment.
Leaders establish a clear vision and strategy:
The team has clarity with regards to the vision. Because the leader has clearly defined the goals and where the team is headed. The team never loses sight of the goal and follows a clear action plan. Leadership not only talks but is committed to taking action towards the goal.
Leaders establish an environment of trust
The language of the leader (both what is said and unsaid) is clear, they know that “ambiguity creates mediocrity”. The conversation is always future based and creates trust in the team, with ongoing open communication, each member is honest and respect is always present. The team members know that finding the right solution may mean that they can “agree to disagree” and team members feel a greater sense of belonging at work. There is no resistance of the decision once the action needs to be taken because the vision is clear.
What does the journey look like?
The leader and the team must embark on a journey together to get to the ultimate destination. To better explain teamwork, think of taking a long road trip with family or friends.
You know where you are and where you want to go (vision). As a leader, make sure that you unfold or unpack the vision and destination for your team. Where they are headed is as important for the team to move forward.
In order to get there you need a plan on the route to take (strategy) and the stops along the way to re-fuel (communication, conversation and team spirit) and to evaluate the direction you are headed.
Each person on the journey (in the car) has a role; they know their role and what they need to do. Roles are various for the vision to be achieved. In the case of the road trip, you have a driver, navigator, one responsible for refreshments and even the one who adds to the team spirit along the way.
There may be road blocks, road works or obstacles that will delay the journey and you can decide (courageous conversations) to take an alternate route (by asking the right questions) but the ultimate destination does not change. The decisions on the trip are done by the leader; the team then needs to understand how to move forward. The sign boards on the journey provide feedback, in the same way the leader has updated conversations on the progress and communicates the vision always.
The team spirit comes from the excitement of getting to a clearly defined destination – the closer the team gets to the destination the more excited the team is and the environment is positive.
A leader’s role for creating a high performance team is ongoing but with the right daily actions and consistent communication of the vision and strategy. The results for both the team and business will bring rewards.
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