Yesterday I had the privilege of having an off-site gathering with Concordia's executive team, those people who serve as chief officers and vice presidents of the University. Our meeting was facilitated by our friend and coach Jim Blanchard of Strategic Positioning, a firm who specializes in team and leadership development. Once again, I discovered the power of a team that is willing to invest the time and energy into learning how to be better together. So today's blog is on four aspects of what I believe makes a great team.
Time together...great teams do not naturally happen - they must spend time together, outside of the day-to-day routine, talking about what it means to be a great team. They must also spend time together when having to make strategic decisions, sometimes more than they might like to. Teams need to be reminded from time to time that spending time together is their work. Do not scrimp on time together...AND be sure to use the time effectively and efficiently.
Everything on the table...great teams cannot afford to have individual members hold back their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Putting everything on the table means that team members need to be vulnerable and have the courage to speak their minds...AND be willing to trust the other team members enough to hear hard things. Stephen M. R. Covey notes in his book The Speed of Trust that TRUST is the one thing that changes everything...and I could not agree more.
Accountability...what this means for me is that members of great teams do what they say they will do, and when they agree as a team to do something, there is one united voice moving forward. This can be difficult when the team is made up of strong opinioned and high functioning individuals...AND the power of one united voice can radically change an organization for the better. This again takes courage and trust, especially when it might feel that accountability is beginning to erode.
Monitoring progress...great teams do not just happen, nor do they stay that way without consistent monitoring and checking in on how they are functioning. At each of our quarterly off-site meetings, we spend time monitoring our progress as a team, using our Birkman profiles as a way of better understanding ourselves as individuals and as team members. We consistently ask each other how we are doing in specific areas,,,and if we find ourselves slipping or moving backwards, we take the time to correct the course.
Being part of a great team is an honor and privilege, something I am not sure most people get to experience. And yet, as Patrick Lencioni states in his book The Advantage, "teamwork is not a virtue. It is a choice...AND it is a strategic advantage." Building great teams is truly a reward for those who lead them...and for all members who are a part of the team.