Great leaders build effective teams.
But if you look at the research about team effectiveness you’ll discover that your conventional wisdom and assumptions fall short. What makes a great team may buck the conventional wisdom and shatter false assumptions.
The following are 7 myths about effective teams.
1) Like-minded people make better team players.
As they say, you don’t get harmony when everyone is singing the same note. So it is with teams. Variety is the spice of teams, and the fuel that makes them run well. Group think and unanimity are the enemies of effective teams.
2) The leader should facilitate process but never take a position.
There is a difference between a leader and a facilitator. A facilitator seeks consensus; a leader expresses conviction. A facilitator guides the process; a leader moves people. Leaders must share their convictions and navigate decisions.
3) The best people produce the best results.
Not always. “Best” is a relative term – and you’d better make sure you know who your relatives are! Best at what? Negotiation, communication and researching the problem? Best at implementing a solution? Best in their field of expertise? Best when working alone, or at their best when working with others?
None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful. Mother Teresa
4) Conflicts between members will destroy the team.
This is true only if conflict is not navigated with respect, trust, listening, truth telling and patience. Processing a conflict with integrity will actually bond a team together. Teams that never fight, rarely win. Debate and appropriate confrontation – about relational breakdown and difficult organizational realities – strengthens high performance teams.
5) The most crucial factor in team success is having the right leader.
You have heard it often: “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” Not always. Look at the Chicago Bears defense. Who is really the leader? If you say Urlacher, you are wrong. While his presence can be powerful, he admits the team often does not “need” him. And sometimes he is out with injuries. But they are the most effective team defense in the league. A great team is not one person or one thing – it is three “things.” Effective teams have a clear mission, focused outcomes, and shared processes that make members effective and interdependent. In such an environment a leader can walk away and the team will keep performing well.
6) When leading teams, remember that volunteers have limited time and should thus be given limited responsibilities.
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. - Michael Jordan
Actually, because they have limited time to invest, volunteers want to deliver the most impact from the least input. No time to waste, no bureaucratic committees to deliberate with, no sitting around the water cooler for an extra hour after lunch. Just real, focused, honest engagement.
7) The key to an effective team is frequent interaction.
While frequent interaction can facilitate team progress and a sense of relationship, the quality and content of the interaction have more to do with success rather than having lots of meetings. Meeting with individuals on the team about certain parts of the project often gets more done. It does not follow that success is a direct by-product of mere interaction.
What other myths about teams do we need to debunk?