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.
These strategies guide team members’ actions as they work together.
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.
Eight behaviors 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.
Ignite a Compelling Purpose that inspires members, stretching them as they make the group’s work the priority.
Share Leadership so that each member willingly takes on mutual responsibility for initiating group success.
Create Just Enough Structure to move the group forward together without becoming bureaucratic or burdensome.
Inspire Full Engagement to enhance team members’ readiness to dive in with focus, enthusiasm, and passion.
Embrace Differences as an asset which widens perspective, promotes creativity, and opens up options for action.
Enable Deep Learning that goes beyond the immediate task and is useful in other work, groups and life.
Strengthen Relationships that lead to trust, interdependence, and friendships within the group.
Aim for Great Results that set the team well above the ordinary.
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. Think of your own experience. Most likely, you will recognize that because of your experience on that team, you were changed in a positive way. We would predict that this shift—whether visible to others or not, enabled you to see yourself, your team, or your life differently. Signals for such transformative shifts include pride of accomplishment, gaining a new skill, or building a sense of community. We have defined this type of personal transformation as a shift in perception that accelerates behavior change and personal vitality.
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?