Leadership – Teams (Sean Christian)

Sean lifted his hands from his keyboard and started counting with his fingers. His thumb was number one. He’s made it all the way around to his other thumb by the time he was done. “Yep, ten.” he thought to himself. “Ten teams in my working life.”

He wondered what made the team he was on then (index finger) different from that one (ring finger) he was on later? He knew they felt different and the results were very, very different. But what about their culture? How did they do “teaming” differently?

These questions really mattered to Sean. He was building teams in his new company. He wanted them to be like the best teams he had been part of… and unlike the worst.

As he reflected he thought about what defined a team. For Sean, it is a “group of people trying to accomplish a list of objectives.” What separated good teams from bad teams? He took some notes based on his experiences in the ten teams…

Good teams

  • Buy in from everyone on the team to reach the goal.
  • Everyone on the same page. Motivated to reach goal.
  • Consistent goal and collaboration. All had the eye on the objective.
  • Willing to adapt and play to their team member’s strengths.

The bad ones?

  • Micromanaged. Lack of ownership.
  • Focus on weaknesses of team members. Blaming.
  • Problem focused rather than solution focused.
  • etc…

As the list of descriptions of bad teams grew Sean thought of the Leo Tolstoy quote from Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” There are so many ways a team can go wrong. But good teams have a lot in common.  

Sean looked down at his ten fingers again. He’d needed the experience with all ten teams – just like he needed all of his fingers – to do the best work possible in his new company. He put his fingers on his keyboard and began building his next team.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What differences have you seen between good and bad teams?
  • How can you build / assemble great teams?
  • What are ways to lead teams for maximum productivity?