We all know how powerfully effective teamwork can be in delivering higher levels of performance. Managers need to focus constantly on developing and expanding the capacity of each team member and must always make sure that everyone is working cohesively. Developing how teams work is a key skill requirement for every manager, especially in highly competitive environments which tend to encourage more individualistic behaviors. The standard performance management model used by most organizations today is based on management by objectives, and it can drive the very behaviors contrary to good performance. Contrary to common knowledge, the sum of the parts will not always add up to the whole. Oftentimes, the successful completion of personal objectives by individuals, as formalized in the annual appraisal process, does not equate to the company being better off. High performers are needed; effective team work is mandatory for companies to succeed today.
Many organizations are matrix-formatted, where within these structural settings people depend on the input of many contributors to be effective. The matrix formatted organization is substantially more complex for international organizations where teams spread out geographically, speak different languages, work in different time zones and have different cultural mindsets. In these environments, command and control through top down management techniques will not work. For these organizations to be successful, leadership has to be more inclusive and focused on leveraging the strengths and capacities of all team members, whatever they may be and whatever their cultural background or organizational roles may be.
Apply the following five leadership principles to build high performing and effective teams:
- Build a shared sense of community around a vision, set of values, common direction and objectives.
- Build, encourage, reward and recognize the sharing of resources and skills, knowledge and best practices throughout your team.
- Share your leadership by empowering team members to take responsibility at all levels.
- Encourage, never blame.
- Stand by and defend your team members and promote solidarity and responsibility at all times.
There are everyday examples of what effective teamwork looks like. Take the example of why a flock of geese fly in V formation. Because Mother Nature teaches the art of effective teamwork. We can take a lesson from their example and instill these skills in our own everyday business acumen.