Are you part of a team? If you play on a sports team, work with a bunch of people, or simply come together for family dinner…that’s a team! Whenever you bring two or more people together for a desired outcome, you have a team.
All of these teams have an equal potential to be an extraordinary team — a high-performance team that accomplishes the desired results quickly, efficiently and effectively.
An extraordinary team is set up for success with the right people working on an important, meaningful issue with solid support from the sponsors and an agreed upon process to proceed. Additionally, there are several other elements that make it truly extraordinary.
Characteristics of an Extraordinary Team:
Clear Goals. Everyone understands the purpose and direction of the team. Everyone pulls in the same direction for success.
Shared Roles. Team task and maintenance roles are clearly defined and easily shared between team members. A key shared role is the team leader. (See more in the Quality Leadership characteristic)
Valued Diversity. Members are valued for the unique contributions they bring to the team. A diversity of thinking, ideas, methods, experiences, and opinions is encouraged. Whether you are creative or logical, fast or methodical, team members recognize each other’s individual talents and tap their expertise — both job-related and other skills they bring to the team, such as organizing, clarifying, creating and team building. Flexibility and sensitivity are key elements in appreciating these differences.
Open and Clear Communication. Poor listening, poor speaking, and the inability to provide constructive feedback can be major roadblocks to team progress. For success, team members must listen for meaning, speak with clarity, engage in dialogue and discussion, and provide continual feedback through the communication process.
Participation. In an extraordinary team, people not only talk, but they participate in a meaningful fashion with every individual contributing when appropriate.
A Cooperative Climate. The atmosphere encourages participation, trust, and openness. Members of the team are equally committed and involved. They know they need each others’ skills, knowledge and expertise to produce something together that they could not do separately. There is a feeling of cooperation in an extraordinary team because the members know they need each other’s skills, knowledge, and expertise. There is a sense of belonging and a willingness to make things work for the good of the whole team.
Positive Atmosphere. Extraordinary teams have a positive atmosphere where people are comfortable enough with each other to be creative, take risks and make mistakes; there’s a climate of trust and openness. It also means you hear plenty of laughter and the team members enjoy what they are doing.
Conflict Managed Constructively. Members of the team are committed and involved, which means you’ll hear plenty of laughter, but there will also be conflict. An extraordinary team manages that conflict by confronting the issues rather than confronting other team members. Problems are not swept under the rug. They see conflict as a healthy way to create new ideas and to solve difficult problems. They’re aware of and they use many methods to manage that conflict and arrive at difficult decisions.
Some may compete to have their opinions heard, while others may accommodate the stronger team members or avoid the conflict altogether. A successful team has discussed its philosophy about how to manage conflict.
Effective decision-making. Extraordinary teams use various methods to make decisions. Consensus is often touted as the best way to make decisions — and it is an excellent method — but the team should also use command decision, expert decision, majority vote, minority control or a command decision with the input depending on the time available, the amount of commitment and resources required.
Quality Leadership. Finally, the Litmus Test of an extraordinary team is whether the leader is a good coach, teacher and if they share responsibility and the glory. They’re supportive and fair, creating a climate of trust and openness. This leadership role shifts at various times and in the most productive teams, it’s often difficult to identify the leaders during a casual observation.
When you put all these elements together, a clear vision, diverse and shared roles, open and clear communication, participation, cooperation, a positive atmosphere, commitment, conflict, effective decision-making, and quality leadership, you have a truly extraordinary team.