What do great teams do that makes them so exceptional? We have studied amazing teams for over a decade and identified three essential elements to their success. Learn more about our research here.
When combined together, these practices ignite high levels of collaboration, learning, and achievement.
This is what people hope for when they join or are assigned to a new team.
This is the “WOW” factor of an extraordinary team experience.
Ten practices show up time after time in the amazing teams we’ve studied. These patterns inspire the strategies you can implement in your teams. Imagine building a list of specific behaviors that would fulfill each strategy. Then consider where your team might start.
Outstanding Results - Outstanding results are the tangible and more visible benefits of exceptional teaming.
Personal Transformation - Individual team members feel increased energy, connectedness, and hope.
Compelling Purpose - An inspiring and shared purpose that sets the context for why the team comes together.
Embracing Difference - Team members see, value and use their diverse backgrounds as a team strength.
Full Engagement - Team members enthusiastically participate in the team’s work with a sense of personal responsibility for the team’s success.
Great Meetings - Team members come to meetings on time, prepared, and stay focused. They speak passionately about their points of view and humor is balanced with serious thinking.
Genuine Curiosity - Team members are genuinely curious about each other’s views and perspectives. There is true interest in member well-being and high levels of respect and caring.
Strong Relationships - Trust, respect, collegiality and friendships grow in amazing teams.
Adaptive Structures - Extraordinary Teams adopt a structure that is flexible and adaptive rather than burdensome and bureaucratic.
Shared Leadership - Team members take mutual responsibility for helping the team be successful.
When you join a team, what are you hoping for? Your hopes or aspirations provide the motivation behind your performance. Our belief—based on what we’ve learned from great teams—is that there are six primary aspirations consistently shared by team members. See how many of these fit with what you aspire to. Note: Some of these are more obvious and visible than others.
Purpose: A core reason why we humans join together. We want to work with others committed to a shared and inspiring purpose. We want to know that as a team, we are all working toward the same goals!
Bond: The connection to others that we need. Joining a team offers the possibility of a shared sense of identity and belonging. It feels good to be part of this team!
Acceptance: Knowing and accepting ourselves for who we are. A team provides a place to be our true selves, to bring current strengths and limitations. As the team values us, we are reinforced in valuing ourselves.
Potential: Sensing and growing into our better and fuller selves. We know we can be more and we have real intentions about doing that. The team encourages our aspirations for gaining new skills and knowledge.
Reality: Understanding our world as it is and how it affects us. We really need to know where we are now, our starting point, if we are to take day-to-day informed action to achieve our team’s purpose.
Impact: Our willingness to act to make a difference in our world, together with others. We want to make a difference so that our time and effort count for something.
Most of us have at some time been on a team that was an especially wonderful experience where, because of our experience, we were changed in a positive way.
When the “wow” factor of personal transformation shows up, a team experience is taken to an entirely new level. The result? A dream-team experience which triggers increases in employee engagement, shared accountability, creative problem solving, openness to new ideas, development of networks, a culture of candor and the retention of top talent. When transformed because of a team, we increase our ability to support outstanding achievements in the moment—and create the capacity to be even more effective on future teams.
Such teams produce a set of identifiable feelings that can be sensed by anyone involved. Use these Four Feelings of Transformation as a checklist for your team experiences.
Energized. Does your team experience energize you or your teammates?
Connected. Do you feel more deeply connected to your teammates or the world around you?
Hopeful. Do you feel more hopeful about yourself, your team, or the world around you?
Changed. Do you feel positively changed by this experience?