Rarely can one person achieve something all on his or her own; teamwork is the way things happen. However,
cultivating a successful team that operates as a cohesive unit is no easy task. Here are the five key tenets to creating and managing highly effective teams.
The ability to say “I don’t know”
Complex situations rarely have easy answers, yet we’ve been taught that we are supposed to show up to a discussion or conversation with solutions. This is not realistic in a world with so many variables and rapid changes. Articulating the truth of the matter –that one person doesn’t have all the answers – unburdens the individual and makes team members more powerful in their ability to collaborate and brainstorm. These teams show up to meetings ready to contribute, saying things like, “I don’t know the answer to this, but here are some of my thoughts.” Or, “I’m not sure I know, and here is what this makes me think.” Sentences like these create space for others to chime in with their thoughts, especially when a team is responsible for a high-value business outcome. The best ideas are born from collaborative work, not the Herculean heroic efforts of one person.
Be You! High-performing teams recognize that each member is human, and everyone is different. Each person has strengths and weaknesses. When teams acknowledge this and enable one another to show up authentically, without posturing or posing — it enhances the communication between the team members. When no one pretends to be something they’re not, a level of authenticity is formed that encourages people to lean in and help.
The best teams and leaders know that everyone has priorities outside of work as well. Businesses have often discouraged transparency and encouraged the mentality of putting work first at all costs, but high-performing teams allow for individuals to communicate up-front about responsibilities outside of work. Transparency breeds proactive planning and discourages secret-keeping.
The ability to ask for help
Especially in today’s increasingly complex world, teams must be able to ask each other for help. A rule of thumb to consider when stuck: don’t spend more than fifteen to thirty minutes thinking about something before reaching out to a teammate and saying, “I’m stuck, can you talk through this with me?” Even the small act of verbalizing a problem usually results in an individual figuring out a way forward in far less time than if that person had been operating alone. It can feel intimidating, but it works.
The ability to say “Yes, and…”
High-performing teams also foster a culture of improvisation through the use of “yes, and...” instead of “yes, but…” when they are dealing with differences in opinion. The human brain hears “but” as a negation of everything said before it, as opposed to “and,” which implies a willingness to collaborate without putting listeners on the defensive.
When teams work well together, they know that it takes everyone to pull off their achievements. Teams are stronger together when they and their leaders are committed to collaborating and adhering to a code of conduct and these five key tenets.