Last week I was honored to join 30 fantastic facilitators – under the leadership of my friend Lou Bergholz & Edgework Consulting – at the MIT Sloan business school’s annual team-building workshop. Together, we were “Facilitastic”!
As I supported two newly formed teams of 7 students over two days through a series of engaging but challenging team-building activities, it prompted me to reflect upon my experience competing on elite level rugby teams and how I have translated those learnings in business and coaching. Over the two days it was revealing to see that despite my two teams having completely different and extremely diverse skills sets, they still relied on the same core values to be successful. I identified 7 such values throughout the workshop, which I call the 7 C’s.
I have subsequently integrated these 7 core values (7 C’s) into a “Go Forward, High Performance Team Model”. A Go Forward, High Performance Team (GFHP) seeks to learn (from information available), to improve and develop (individually and as a team) and to never give up in achieving their ultimate performance. There are four foundational components to a GFHP Team:
- A Culture Keeper
- 7 C’s / Core Values
- Balanced Roles
- Defined Process
Below, I define briefly the 7 C’s / Core Values that make up a GFHP Team (I will tackle roles and process at a later juncture). At the center of these values is a “Culture Keeper” – a Team Manager, Team Leader, Captain – someone responsible for balancing and operationalizing the team’s values (on and off the field) to develop high performance norms, expectations and processes.
The 7 C’s (Core Values) of “Go Forward, High Performance Teams”:
- Clear Goals & Roles: Vital to a team’s success is a clearly defined and understood goal of what the team needs to achieve and how each team member can contribute to that goal based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses. This is balanced with an understanding of individual team members’ needs and goals to help their personal development, commitment and contribution to the team’s long-term success.
- Communication: Specifically open, honest and transparent communication is key to a team’s success. Active listening is a key component of effective communication, as is the raising of red-flags as challenges arise in the team building or task execution process.
- Common Purpose: An effective team aligns its individual members, skills and beliefs towards a common purpose as a unit of collaborators. The common purpose will relate in part to the tasks needing to be completed by the team but must also be sensitive to broader environmental factors, such as organizational culture, systems, structures & processes, for example.
- Collaboration: Cohesion and cooperation within a team towards their common purpose is what enables a team to achieve more together than the sum of its parts could do individually. Sometimes, the highest performing teams will use collaboration and communication to create a team roadmap based upon the information available to them, when a common purpose or specific goal are not clearly defined.
- Commitment: An effective team needs to be committed to achieving its objectives. Commitment includes a “team-first, self-last” attitude but also appreciates the value in diversity that each individual brings to the team. Thus, there needs to be a commitment to support each individual team-member’s development as part of the broader team development process. This leads to increased skills, higher retention and improved performance over a longer term.
- Change Management: A successful team recognizes that the world can be ambiguous, complex and change is inevitable. Thus a team should constantly evolve and strive to predict, react & adapt to change. This reduces the materiality of external pressures that may otherwise arise and inhibit team performance at critical moments.
- Confidence: In addition to being an outcome from a healthy mix of the aforementioned core values above; confidence can also be developed through individual and team preparation and practice. Confidence – while not referred to as often in team-building literature – I would argue is one factor that can enable a team to out-perform expectations on paper, and deliver the ultimate in high performance performance results in practice.
There are clearly many models and theories available regarding effective teams. This is my own creation of a “Go Forward, High Performance Team” based upon a little research, combined with my personal experience on the field and in the office. More to come but in the meantime, I am interested in your thoughts….