Monday, June 22, 2009

5 Principles of High Performing Teams

“High performing teams don’t live in isolation, they must actually impact upon organisational goals to be great” –Professor John Milton-Smith.
The quote above means high performing teams can only truly be defined as great by their interaction and impact. There are various principles involved in achieving a high performing team. These below are some that were discussed at a recent leadership session I attended together with my commentary.

1. Common Goals

This is seemingly the most important principle driving the high performing team toward success--as their organisation defines it. Notwithstanding nuisance factors--which see high performing teams work well even in potentially high conflict situations--shared objectives are implicit of their values, for values must almost always underpin our goals.

2. Good Leadership

Leadership, as we all suspect, is about results; tangible evidence of success through a true method revealed later as just that: leadership. Leadership is a vehicle to team success, for in all teams there must be leadership. High performance teams don’t act in a vacuum. They thrive (and don’t just survive) on good leadership principles. Team members are inspired by their leader whereas team members ‘endure’ their manager.

3. Effective Communications

No elite team ever succeeds without an underpinning commitment to, and consistency and ease of, communication. Not only is it effective, it’s often inspiring. In other words, effective communications is inspiring (like poetry in motion) as it so rarely happens. Effective communications is at the centre of inspiring team outcomes as much as ineffective communications is at the centre of incidents, anomalies and failure.

4. Role Clarity

Team members of the team know what’s expected of them and that fits also with their individual passion and skill set. Not only that, but they can adapt, swinging in for infirmed team members at late notice because they see the opportunity to contribute to the team--seeing their overall role as somewhat broader than the specific role they normally fill. In other words, they know the bigger picture is bigger than just their specific role and they support it unreservedly.

5. Willingness to Challenge and Change

This takes courage, individually and collectively. To be able to embrace change openly takes both faith and commitment. A high performing team empowers all team members to openly challenge in an environment free of fear. There are no repercussions to be seen.

In fact, the effective leader encourages the challenging of the status quo, for they are not afraid of the truth. They realise that the truth can only liberate us. They realise that changing something in truth i.e. reacting to truth, to the satisfaction of a team member or the team as a whole, is a win/win situation. They do it, therefore, willingly and enthusiastically.

Finally, there’s a bond of maturity that envelopes the high performing team, both individually and collectively. Acceptance runs rife and rejection, itself, is rejected. Trust underpins it all, pervading the culture of the team like an everlasting stream.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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