Clarity Dialogue Performance Team effectiveness Trust

The best TEAM wins

Trust. Debate. Clarity. Rhythm. Four critical ingredients to build high performing teams out of talented individuals. No shortcuts available.

Yesterday evening Bayern Munich won the Champions League edition 2020. No worries, I’m not going to talk about football (soccer) in my blog. I’m just starting the blog of this week with a simple statement: the team that plays most like a TEAM wins. 

You can build a team of stars, hoping that their quality, in the end, will prevail for the win, but more often than not, it’s the best team and not the group of best players going home with the trophy. Case in point, Bayern beat Barcelona, a team full of stars, in the quarterfinals 8-2.

I’m sure you have read this before. I’m sure you know this deep in your heart and understand the reasons why. So, why do you keep believing that if you simply put a group of talented people together, they will almost automatically deliver the results you’re expecting? It has very seldom worked, and it never will. Because any group that can operate as a team, will outperform any collective of individuals.

This post is not a post about winning. It’s a post about developing a high performing team and the ingredients needed to do so long term and sustainably, even realizing that team members may come and go. 

In my past three blogs, I spoke about the ingredients for building a high performing team. I based those posts on the Tuckman model of forming, storming, norming, performing. I translated those stages in outcomes for each stage and how to create those outcomes: trust, debate, and clarity.

The first blog addressed the element of trust. Trust is the result of character and competence, and a leader needs to develop and nurture it continuously. When the team changes, the process of building trust needs increased attention. In an interview this morning, the goalkeeper of Bayern Munich highlighted trust in each other as a critical component for the success this season. He praised their new trainer for investing the time in building that trust.

The second blog addressed the importance of debate or dialogue or conversation. You can’t build a sustainable, high performing team if you don’t have a healthy debate culture within your team. If people choose to stay silent and not express their opinion or perspective, you lose. And it’s your job as a leader to ensure that culture gets build.

In the third blog, last week, I spoke about the ingredient of clarity. My LinkedIn post addressed the gap between leaders believing they’re clear, and the people in their team painting another picture. Given the feedback I received, I struck a nerve. Leaders need to set norms with their team and get clear on what it is that the team collectively needs to deliver and how it will deliver. 

The final ingredient is the element of rhythm. Each team needs a rhythm to be able to perform. A leader needs to create the conditions to build momentum and allow the team to get into a flow and deliver over and over again. The conditions are a set of values, rituals, routines, deliberate practice, and learning. A leader also needs to know what to do when the context changes (e.g., a pandemic) or the team’s composition changes. 

Trust, debate, clarity, rhythm. Those are the four ingredients for any team to deliver on a high level for the long term.

Your turn: If you’re currently part of a highly qualified team that’s not ‘winning,’ check yourself against these ingredients. Most likely, one or more ingredients are missing. Which one(s)? Why?


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