The building of effective teams is a process dear to my heart. The data from my dissertation, along with Dr. Shelly Morr’s data in her replication of my study, were glaring: If you want to nurture a learning community (that is, a culture of authentic collaboration), then you must build effective teams throughout your organization. And that is no easy feat, for sure!
Being said, I was asked to deliver a keynote presentation to a group of about 120 high school seniors preparing to enter the workforce during the summertime. It is a unique program titled, ASTERISK, where students are disbursed throughout the community to work in various settings, private and public. It is win-win! They earn high school credits, while earning a few bucks for gas.
As I pondered on topics to share with the group, an epiphany hit me. What an advantage these young students would have understanding how to lead and work within effective teams. And just as David Ulrich put it, “Future leaders will master teamwork, working with and through others because no one person can master all the sources of information to make good decisions.”
So I decided to give them three high-leverage actions to consider when working within teams. I’ve labeled them the A-B-Cs of Team Building.
“A” is for Appreciate Diversity
We are all unique, just like the fact that no two fingerprints are matching. Our biases, opinions, cultures, and experiences makeup the lenses that we use to view the world and those around us. These differences must be appreciated in order for teams and organizations to thrive. Each and every member of a team brings to the table a set of strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Success occurs (and a collective intelligence is increased) when we become vulnerable, building our weak areas through the strengths of others.
“B” is for Build Agreements
Spending the necessary time to eliminate any ambiguity in expected behaviors is far from wasteful when the aim is to provide a concise guide for individual and team behaviors. Everyone within a team must recognize the values they share as a group. Explicitly developed productive norms, or agreements, have the advantage of helping members of the team deal consciously and conscientiously with any situation before it begins to impede progress. By accepting them, the members of the team choose them as guideposts for their treatment of one another, for the decisions they make, and for the carrying out of their work as a cohesive group.
“C” is for Communicate Trust
Trust is a delicate issue that takes time to build. And, as you know, it can be broken in the blink of an eye. Members of a team must have faith in one another, doing everything to keep that belief alive. This means appreciating the differences in teammates, as well as following through with agreed upon norms. I like to (in my pursuit to build trust with others) demonstrate a genuine care for their professional and personal lives; validate my own personal strengths; and remain transparent and consistent with my behaviors.
To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation click HERE.
Dr. Perry Wiseman
Author of the book, Strong Schools, Strong Leaders
Founder/CEO of WiseFoundations