Posts Tagged ‘performance outcomes’

(5) Team Leadership: How do we Play Nice in the Sandbox—Together?

          Leaders are those with the vision and influence to get others to follow them as they blaze a new path for the future.  Leaders are those who know how to get there.  While this sounds good in theory, getting others to work as part of a well oiled team, together as part of this journey, is not often a simple task. 

            Werner (2010) introduces us to the impacts that an effective team can have within business.  Research offers that teams are: a) more productive, b) more stable, c) more innovative, and d) more profitable (Werner, 2010).  As a result, effective teams are good for business.  So then how does a leader build an effective team to take advantage of these benefits?

            First, a team is much more than simply a group of people that get together.  We all know of a sports team that works well together and wins, versus a team that cannot somehow coordinate their efforts and often loses instead.  What is the difference?  We look to Collins (2009) and his seven interconnected skills for answers that include: 1). team identity, 2). motivation, 3). communication, 4). conflict resolution, 5). awareness of individual and team emotions, 6). handling stress, and 7). having fun and a positive mood (as cited in Werner, 2010).  Teams that work together to build on these seven interconnected elements often find more effective performance outcomes. 

     To discover this secret, let’s take a look at each of these in turn.  First, team identity (1) is the ability to know who their team is and what they stand for.  There is a shared reason for people to be on a team that often engenders a personal connection and pride, as well as team spirit.  Second, teams understand the concept of motivation (2), where each individual’s skills and needs are important to the success of the team.  Both the individual motivates the team and the team motivates the individual for combined synergy and strength where the overall team ultimately benefits.

     The third skill highlights the need for effective communication (3).  Everyone on the team needs to communicate openly and honestly– to and from each other–to provide feedback and constructive dialogue that is not only welcome but highly valued to move the team forward.  Communication transitions nicely into our fourth skill which is conflict resolution (4).  People that work together on a regular basis will not always agree,-even on the strongest of teams.  Conflict is not only inevitable but valued.  A high performing team knows how to have productive conflict that allows everyone to  talk about what needs talking about to work out conflict .  The end result is a win-win for everyone on the team.

            Skill #5 is the awareness of individual and team emotions (5).  Simply put, emotions are what it means to be human.  We cannot ignore emotions as they are part of the equation of a successful team.  Instead, we must learn to manage them by respecting and being sensitive to our feelings, as well as those of our fellow teammates to create bonds and team synergy that are part of successful teams.

            Handling stress (6) is the next skill crucial to team success.  Stress is how a team works together both when they win and how they come back from a loss.  Successful teams are strong and resilient.  They work together to manage their stress and are aware of how stress impacts their energy levels.  Learning to handle stress effectively is another critical element to team success.  Lastly, having fun and maintaining a positive mood (7) is the last secret to high performing teams.  Members who are optimistic with a positive attitude have a truly powerful impact on the outcome and success of winning teams.

     The secret relies on the leader’s ability to blend the talents of the many people that form the group and to move them along this process to ideally form a team where they can do more together than they can do separately.  Remember the cliché, “Two heads are better than one”?  A leader recognizes the need for people to work together where the leader’s job is to provide the direction to shape the beliefs, behavior, and values that are important for accomplishing the shared vision of the team (Daft, 2010).  

     Being a team is a contact sport (Werner, 2010), where social connectiveness is important to the outcome or the end result.  The leader simply provides the direction, the example, and the tools; where leaders teach the members of their teams to learn to trust both the leader—and their team members—to take them where the leader feels they should go.

     In the words of our former president: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he or she wants to do it” Dwight D. Eisenhower.

So how will you lead your team?


Collins, J. (2009). How the mighty fall. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Daft, R. (2010). The leadership experience (5th ed.). Mason: OH: South-Western Cengage Learning

Werner, M. (2010, August). Teamwork is a contact sport: Seven skills of high-performance teams. CPA Practice Management Forum, 6(8), 5-9.

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April 11th, 2011 by admin