Teamwork is well known as a vehicle for improving organisational performance. Yet, while many teams aspire to be high performing, the fundamental skills required are not widely practiced.
To quote Patrick Lencioni, well-know author and expert on teams, “Teamwork remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare”.
To set the stage, it’s worth clarifying what a good team really is – a small number of people committed to a common purpose and who work interdependently toward performance goals set and share accountability for outcomes.
The senior leaders of organisations may be referred to as a team, but they may not do the work of being a team. They meet together regularly but operate siloed business units and are less concerned with joint responsibility for problem-solving, critical decision-making and guiding the organisation as a whole.
Another challenge with team development lies with the leaders themselves. A 360-degree survey of over six thousand executives and managers in 2009 found that the skill of team building ranked in the bottom 25 percent of performance-related leadership competencies.
Lencioni says that all teams can potentially be dysfunctional in some ways, and the solution is to address critical issues of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and collective results.
His model resonates with team leaders everywhere because it offers a straightforward and systematic approach to uniting a group of leaders with a clear purpose and opening up honest conversations about what matters.
With fifteen years’ experience in executive team coaching, we have seen the power of aligning team members by attending to these critical success factors. We now use an online Team Assessment to provide a starting point for building a well-functioning and cohesive team.
We have added the dimension of working remotely to the strategies and tactics for building team performance. In some cases, teams need to work to meet the needs of all members, no matter where they are or how they come together.
This discipline takes courage, but the rewards are great and available to any team working to differentiate itself by accomplishing more together, faster.
Executive team coaching is a specialised form of coaching aimed at advancing team effectiveness. It requires considerable skill to read the room, identify group dynamics, and confront inappropriate behaviour and other dysfunctions sensitively.