Though there is plenty of research out there touting the science behind great teams, it is not something a team leader, or any professional organization, can rely on solely to build a powerful, emphatic, effective team. Arguably, you can’t even rely on what team building activities you choose to expose your group to – though that does have an effect.
It’s about being able to look at the whole picture, and not just placing the carefully chosen pieces where research says they should go, but fitting them together in a way that speaks to the overall goal, as well as to each and every team member. And sometimes this means pieces are going to fit where you least expected them to.
There is no right or wrong way to do it. Building a great team is simply an art. So what do the different pieces of this work of art look like?
Implementing strong leadership is the cornerstone and the focal point of an outstanding team. This individual must have the competencies it takes to keep the ship under control (without micromanaging) and sailing in the right direction. Is your team’s leader dedicated to the cause? And is she able to share the big vision with clarity and cognizance? Does your team leader embody the qualities that instill trust and credibility? Is he willing to be accountable for the actions of the team and the outcome of these actions? Does this person know how to manage not only a team, but people? A strong team leader must be all of these things and more.
While it is true that experience is an invaluable asset to any team, what is even more valuable is when experience recognizes inexperience as an asset. A potential team member may not have the “experience” one is looking for on paper, per se. But does this person have the drive and the ambition to succeed? The willingness to learn and aspirations to move forward within the team and the organization? Taking the time to mentor and coach these diamonds in the rough often pays off in a big way as you will not only create a new asset, you’ll now have a killer resource for the future.
This could be considered a branch of experience, but there is more to understanding what makes a great team than experience alone. Such as knowing when to trust your gut and take a chance. Knowing that no matter how awesome your team is, you must constantly evolve through learning or risk hitting a plateau. It is about recognizing when diverse qualities among team members complement one another and how to use them to the advantage of the team. It is understanding when to push harder and when to take the team’s foot off the gas. It is more than science.
The Desire to Succeed
This is a given, but what many teams fail to consider is that true desire to succeed can encompass many things, such as the willingness to experiment. People like to stick to a tried and true recipe, but consider how such recipes came to existence in the first place: trial and error. The alacrity to experiment with different aspects of the team, whether it means placing a team member in a different role, tackling an issue from a different angle, or testing out various team building exercises to see what really works rather than continually subjecting employees to the same old corporate outings. A team’s willingness to step outside the lines and risk making mistakes is what ultimately propels a team to great heights, because it’s not the mistakes themselves that count – it’s what you take away from them to use in your next masterpiece.