What Makes a Successful Team?

One of the teams I facilitate is completing their six-month assignment together and we were asked to name ten factors that contributed to our success. Here they are:

1. Vision casting from the heart: In the beginning of our time together, we each asked

• What is my highest vision for our time together?

• What must we become to realize that?

• What must we release?

We then shared early in our time together in order to design from the vision. It was uncanny how alike our visions were in every case—some variations on wording, but the essence was very aligned according to our values and what was meaningful and important.

2. Design how we want to be together: we set out logistics that worked for all. We considered this from multiple angles: energy, structure/space, consistency so we would know our schedule and commitment.

3. Assume positive intent always. We knew we wanted to contribute our best, and to help each other do that as well, so we agreed that positive intent was at the base of all communications. This assumption kept us from being reactive during times of differing opinions, of which there were plenty.

4. Shared leadership. We gave people the opportunity to facilitate team meetings by rotating that each month. This was a growth opportunity for those who had not done it before, and we all learned from different styles. We acknowledged growth and contribution, using every opportunity to recognize each others’ strengths showing up: in a tool someone designed, or a workshop someone led. We learned a lot from each other—much more than any of us anticipated.

5. Communication as desired between meetings. We all had 1:1 conversations with our individual team members. Calls were made to team members who were going through things: a car accident, an illness, a work crisis—just to lend support and let them know we care about them.

6. Spirit of generosity. There was a lot of sharing between us. I established a shared folder in Google drive and we all dropped resources there to share. Ideas, tools, articles, research, etc. We enjoyed frequent email questions/conversations but there was no pressure about that. We allowed it to be organic depending on what any of us wanted help with or whose ideas we wanted to solicit.

7. Inclusivity. On just about any team, some will be more extroverted and the introverts may require a bit of encouragement to share more, doubting their experience or ideas are as “big”. We were careful to let everyone know they provided value in simply their being. We formulated questions of each other to draw everyone out, and factored in that some require longer pondering, depending upon their primary strengths.

8. Fun built in. We laughed a lot, were authentic, brought our quirks and embraced them fully. We used Improv games to deepen trust in bite-size pieces. This was a stretch for some and they surprised themselves with how much they enjoyed it. When positive intent is established, and acceptance is strong, people permit themselves to be authentic in a relaxed way that makes room for laughing at ourselves and each other. One person said, “I feel very safe with all of you. This is a safe space.”

9. Use time well. We decided to check in via a private LinkedIn group on Sunday night (written) so that Monday meetings were productive and we hit the ground running in our Monday meetings. We ranked proposed agenda items and went with those that had the highest ranking overall to make sure we worked on meaningful, relevant things.

10. High Trust. We were accepting of each other and gave permission to bring whatever was up for any of us, knowing we would be well received, safe from judgement, embraced. It was AWESOME to be on a team so intentional. They shared that they felt the same way.

One member of our team added two things:

11. We wanted to accomplish something as a team vs. only supporting each other’s individual objectives. This was especially meaningful to all of us. It gave us insight to what specialties each brought, and how we might collaborate on future projects.

12. We knew from the get-go that our strength profiles were quite diverse. Even with all of our training, one could have expected there to be some challenges or bumps in the road—especially with working together on some common goals. We truly embraced each others contributions, points of view and differences. It also created a whole new level of learning.

The bottom line in having a successful team experience, I believe, comes down to a single factor for each member of that team: intention. How do you intend to show up? How committed is your intention to enjoy, contribute, and do your best? When we come with positive intentions and we are all in, we can navigate anything together.

2 comments

  • Dr John Read /

    Very nice case study Teri. Can you tell us how were the projects initiated? Thanks

    • This was a learning group of about 50, broken into several teams which met twice monthly in a large group format, and twice monthly as a small team. We were to use the learning module to deepen learning and fuel the creation of individual and/or group projects of our choosing. In my team, we supported each others’ individual creations, for example: an app, a presentation, upgrading a client offering, and we decided as a group which joint venture we wanted to address.
      Thank you for the kind words.

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