The Image: Jacques, the manager of a huge large pipe manufacturing business describes team dynamics.
“A pipe, no matter how thick or long it is, is only as strong and reliable as its thinnest, weakest part. All our pipes come out looking great on the surface. It’s only when we put them through our scanners that we can see whether the pipe is fit for shipping. So, too, like our teams. We only know how competent, strong and functional they are under the stresses and strains of everyday manufacturing demands. Sometimes they just blow up!”
What A Team Is: A group of individuals working in sync, with competence and motivation to accomplish a common objective. A high performing team has a dynamic, sometimes conflicted, energy that propels it forward in the service of achieving its purposes.
A Group is Like: A bunch of people on a bus. All heading in the same direction. Driven by the bus driver. People don’t talk with each other. They get on and off as they please. The only commonality is the vehicle.
Key Action Words/Phrases of A Team: Accountability. Self-responsibility. Conflict. Problem-solving. Clear Objectives. Formal leader. Informal leaders. Celebration. Temporary. Individual roles are critical to and subordinate to team goals.
“I” is each of the parts that forms the “we” that pull together to make it about the bigger “us.”
Working Images of Teams: Cirque de Soleil. Top Gun. An aircraft carrier. A surgical team. A flash mob dance.
Dysfunctional Groups: The Senate. Detroit Lions Football Team.
Each individual on a team is responsible for the approach, achieving the assigned goals and the internal processes that helps or hinders progress.
Business is a team sport. Actually life is a team sport — a fact which many people ignore at their peril.
A team without a leader is like a child without a supervising adult. The best teams are self-governed and enforce their own peer-based discipline and they have a formal leader to guide them. The Miami dolphins without Don Shula would not have had a no-loss season. Microsoft with Bill Gates? Apple sans Steve jobs?
A team generates and regulates a sense of unity among its disparate individuals. It also leverages individual performances into team accountability and outcomes.
Without an effective management team a company will not likely be able to develop its teams.
Incompetence flows downhill.
Policies and corporate strategies do not a high performance team culture make.
Managers, as team leaders, have the tension-filled, opposing challenge of exercising the right authority and inclusiveness. That’s the art.
It is best when a team sets its own goals and processes based upon the inputs from its members. That’s the science.
A well-mixed team made up of individuals with differing style and skills, and who are committed to the team, can produce for the organization.
A high functioning team is flexible enough to shift – sometimes smoothly, sometimes with turbulence — leadership roles among the members to fit the situation.