There comes a time in most working professionals life when they are tasked with something significant and asked to create or build a team to tackle it. For some of us, this can resemble the team-picking exercise we all got through on the school yard for kickball – with predictable results: poor cohesiveness, bad management skills applied inexpertly, a lack of motivation and poor morale. In short, the project sometimes gets done, usually by the strongest or most domineering two or three, leaving the rest feeling disenfranchised or segregated, negated or worse, and a less than optimal project outcome as well. This is not a recipe for greatness.
Those who take a more strategic approach sometimes fare better, but not always. Those who look good on paper, and have incredible skill sets and diligence to spare, may not work well with others, may not mesh with the overall “gears” of the group, may not parse out their skills in a way that the team appreciates. The results are similar to the above, but with bigger egos.
Really good teams at their root have a level of respect for the challenge . . .
A recent view of the movie “Moneyball” reveals that business is not the only discipline where emotionally selecting co-workers can have negative consequences, but that even things that look good on paper may not work well in real life. It also illuminates the fact that there is a hidden “something” that all winning teams have that all the statistical analysis, investigative scouting, referral burnishing or other team-selection method will not reveal. There’s a certain “chemistry” among winning teams that is difficult to duplicate, harder to engineer or manufacture.
One way to set the stage for this “Chemistry” is to find individuals with complimentary skills, and personalities, and just enough commonality to let each be comfortable. Six big ego type A personalities banging around in there is likely to be a disaster, just as five or six introspective, analytical introverts. But two or three of each, with a couple of “neutrals” to referee and act as the voice of reason, and things start to look more productive. Sometimes pushing everyone outside their comfort zone has positive results, because the “adversity” acts like a bonding catalyst, sets up an “Us vs Them” mentality that motivates, coalesces, and helps the normally divergent skills and personalities converge to solve the challenge at hand, just to prove they can.
Really good teams at their root have a level of respect for the challenge and for each of the members that keeps things moving forward and fosters trust. The more difficult the challenge, and the more exclusive the team, the better this works. Setting the stage for this starts with the team’s nominal leader, showing an even-handed, rational and realistic approach to how they handle the others.
Team-building has to be looked at from many different angles and good ones are effective on several levels. A group of professionals who respect each other and each others’ talents and skills, and who also spend off time as friends, is a rare combination but can be a very effective one. There’s a certain element of vulnerability that helps cement things a bit more closely when you’ve seen the other team members let their hair down a bit and you do the same, put yourself out there a bit and show another side of yourself – let them in, and have them let each other in, and that’s where the “magic” seems to start.
. . . the “adversity” acts like a bonding catalyst, sets up an “Us vs Them” mentality that motivates, coalesces, and helps the normally divergent skills and personalities converge . . .
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