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The Alchemy of Leadership Blog

Something Worth Watching

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Enjoying a good team in action is much better than enduring a bad one, but what makes a good team?   This question has vexed leaders ever since men and women learnt they could cooperate with each other to reach more ambitious goals than they could hope to achieve on their own.  But while today our need to work together is less existential – we don’t have to go mammoth-hunting to put food on the table any more – the question remains just as important to our well-being as it did in the Stone Age.

A well-constructed and well-led team with will do far better than a team with poor fundamentals.  And the way the team interacts is crucial to its success.  We can all remember, usually with a shudder, dysfunctional teams which were a nightmare to work in.  If the leader does not command the respect of the team members; if nobody knows what they’re meant to be doing; if there’s a power struggle going on, then progress is pretty much guaranteed to be slow and painful.  Too much energy will be expended for each step forward.  There’ll be more heat than light.  Nobody will be happy.

So, what can you do to avoid this fate?  The first move is to construct your team carefully.  A judicious blend of skills, experience and approaches will lead to better results than either a bunch of yes-men (or yes-women) or a herd of cats.  Secondly, clarify what the goals and objectives of the team are, and how you’re going to get there.  Then, pay a lot of attention to the team dynamic.  Make sure roles are clear, both functionally and within the team itself.  Finally, hone your antennae so you know when a team member is not performing, perhaps because they’re feeling their contributions are being ignored or overridden.  Look after your team and success will look after itself.

© Patrick Macdonald 2015

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