“To succeed as a team is to hold all of the members accountable for their expertise.” — Mitchell Caplan
More valuable than any sole participant, an effective team is one of the most important aspects to almost all facets of business. Whether you are working together to make the right decision for your company, or a think tank is actively brainstorming new innovations, teamwork is essential for success.
But as the old saying goes, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. The ability of your team to accomplish its goal rests upon the shoulders of the least active member. Not only do they contribute the least to the team, but they also drag down the entire team by breaking the spark of connectivity between active team players. This spark is only visible when every member of the team sees each other and their ideas as equals.
In order to ensure that every member’s contributions are maximized and that the team is as effective as possible, there are a few key things that you should do:
Promote free discussion — Make it clear that this is a judgment-free environment and all ideas are worth considering.
Embrace disagreements — Use them as an opportunity for growth. The whole point of teamwork is to come up with ideas that would not have existed without the synthesis of people working together.
Practice discipline and focus — No matter how intelligent the people in a team are, everyone is susceptible to distractions and thought processes that do not benefit the team’s goal. While free speech is encouraged, make sure it is on topic.
Alternate leadership — A true team of equals has no one leader, and one of the signs of an effective team is that the leadership is passed around naturally through the group’s discussion.
Raise the bar — Get all of the team members active by being a good role model and displaying the qualities you promote.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” — Phil Jackson
Just as the team gets its strength from its players, each individual player is capable of more when put together into an effective team. For most people, that feeling alone of cooperation and achievement is enough to keep themselves at their best at all times.
“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” — Thomas Carlyle
There is truly no greater feeling than that of accomplishment, and what greater accomplishment is there than one that is so complicated and demanding that no one person could do it on their own? It is easy to understand then that a successful team relies as much on its members as the members do on the team, a balance which is essential to keep in mind when participating in any group activity. If the group does happen to go off-topic or you sense that the mood is a little off, say something! Improving a situation is impossible without knowing and communicating the problem.