A Love Affair With Teams

5th April 2022

A Love Affair With Teams

Apr 5, 2022

When it comes to business (and life), we all have complex relationships with teams.

A quick scroll through your LinkedIn feed and you’ll  see hundreds of leaders celebrating their teams.

It seems that leaders who need to complete complex projects or achieve lofty targets know how important teams are.

According to Zippia Research*, 86% of employees in leadership positions blame poor teamwork as the top reason for workplace failures.

To summarise, leaders understand that retaining, building and optimising their team is important.

Of course, that reality doesn’t change the fact that for lots of people, teamwork is like pulling teeth.

Why do some people find teamwork hard work?

Even assuming the team has been set up beautifully in terms of a clear vision and mission by the perfect team leader. Some people don’t relish teamwork.

Personality is a factor.

Individuals with a strong preference for introversion can find some team interactions deenergising and at times downright pointless.

The type of information that a team member prefers can also render some teams with a lack of focus on the teams’ overall goal and instead leave them with heads down, perpetually ploughing through the ‘to do’ list.

Self-interest is another factor. Individual interests often sabotage team spirit. People’s competitive instincts end up finding targets in fellow team members rather than rival teams.

The more ambitious you are, the harder you’ll find it to manage the tension between getting ahead and getting along.

In fact, even when we want to collaborate, the wrong expertise, incompatible values, or an unusual style could make just about anybody a poor match for a given team.

Leadership is a key ingredient

Talented leaders are good at picking the right people for the right task, and inspiring them to set aside their selfish agendas to focus on the group’s goals.

Indeed, the ability to build high-performing teams that people don’t find hard work to be a part of is basically the essence of leadership.

If you ask enough top executives about their leadership style, you’re likely to hear some of them say, “I hire the best people and get out of their way.” It’s a go to line that makes sense at a certain level.

Hiring the right people is a critical first step for any leader but the job doesn’t end there.

In order to create an engaged, high performing team leaders must (amongst other things):

  • Understand the personalities and ambitions of their team to build trust
  • Articulate the vision and mission of the team
  • Connect the team to that vision
  • Involve the team in the process of deciding how to achieve the goal to ensure commitment
  • Make the team accountable
  • Focus everyone on results
  • Set the tone
  • Lead by example
  • Listen more

No easy feat! Many a team has succeeded or failed with the calibre of its leader.

We all love teams though, right?

7 of the top 10 sports by viewership (sportsbrowser.net) are team sports. The top 3 sports namely football (soccer), cricket and basketball boast a combined viewership of 7.2 billion.

We love investing our own time and money in watching groups of individuals become a team and achieve collectively. Perhaps it testifies to a human desire to belong and be a part of something that succeeds.

Many of us have been lucky enough to be a part of a team that has just excelled. A team that achieved all of its goals and was a joy to be a part of.

Some of us have had the misfortune of being in a team that has been an absolute misery. An ordeal from start to finish.

There’s no way around it though: every significant human accomplishment from moon landings to curing cancers is the result of coordinated group behaviour – people working together to achieve a common goal.

Every significant human aspiration from solving the climate crisis to colonising Mars to Aston Villa winning the Premier League** WILL involve high performing, highly engaged teams.

That’s why we love teams at EML. That’s why we exist. To help build and sustain teams that will change the World for the better.

*Source Zippia Research Inc 2022 – Collaboration Statistics [2022]: The Importance Of Teamwork Report.

**Please note some aspirations are more realistic than others

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