What Makes a Team Extraordinary?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 5, 2013

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.

shutterstock_277372325An extraordinary team has a clear vision of the desired result, the team’s purpose, direction and goals. An extraordinary team recognizes the diverse roles and unique contributions that each member brings to the team, both job-related and in other areas, such as organizing, clarifying, creating and team building.
Extraordinary teams also have open and clear communication. We don’t think teams can emphasize communication enough because 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 continually provide feedback to each other. In an extraordinary team, people not only talk, but they participate in a meaningful fashion with every individual contributing when appropriate.
There is a feeling of cooperation in an extraordinary team because the members know they need each other’s skills, knowledge and expertise. 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.
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. 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.
Extraordinary teams use various methods to make decisions, such as 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.
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, cooperation, a positive atmosphere, and effective decision making, and you have a truly extraordinary team.

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