Common Misconceptions in Team Dynamics #2

Misconception Number Two: A group of managers coming together to produce an outcome constitutes a team.

People either become part of a team by virtue of their role in the organisation (executive team, sales team, accounting team, marketing team etc.) or teams are created to produce certain outcomes (project teams, teams that work on culture, diversity, cost reduction etc.)

A group of people under the banner of ‘team’ does not mean that a ‘team’ exists. The default to team is a collection of individuals operating as individuals (agendas, ego’s, personalities and opinions). Their participation in the team is usually driven more by their individual concerns than those of the team and is the primary reason why teams perform badly.

Think of a great sporting team.  It’s likely there were great players on that team, but that’s not what had the team be great. There are many examples of teams with great players, even masters, where the team’s performance was average.

What you will observe with great teams is how all the parts of the team work together, the flow that is created when the team’s performance is more important to the players than individual performance. This is what we mean when we say that everyone on the team, ‘owns’ the team. They are as committed to everyone’s performance as they are to their own performance and work with each other from that perspective. They own the purpose of the team, the concerns of every member of the team and the agreements that everyone takes on. This leads to people being accountable and holding others to account, speaking up to express their views and being willing to challenge the views of others, being supportive and empathetic, listening and considering the views of others and resolving issues with other team members that get in the way of participating fully.

This ownership dramatically improves individual and team performance. You’ve heard great players acknowledge that they could not have performed at such a high level if it wasn’t for the support and overall performance of the team. Individual performance is as much to do with the way the team interacts with team members, as it is to do with individual genius (possibly more than individual genius).

Thinking you have a team working on fulfilling a purpose when in fact you do not have a ‘ team’ working on that common purpose can be highly detrimental to the goals that the team is working towards. Assembling a team is relatively easy, having it work as a team is often a challenge and problematic – yet, unrivalled results are available through team, so it’s worth the effort.

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