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Monday, May 14, 2018

Leaders Build Teams Not Groups

Any collection of people can form a group – a group of tourists, a group of spectators, a management group. Management groups usually call themselves management teams. Often they are only groups. But it’s a basketball team that wins a medal; a surgical team that performs an operation. You don’t hear of basketball or soccer groups.

A group of unrelated (tourist), uncoordinated (spectators), or under a traditional hierarchical system (management). A team operates with skilled coordination. Its members share common goals and values. They are mutually supportive. They work together and communicate regularly. They actively participate. There is a strong sense of common purpose and consensus-seeking.

No leader has all the skills. The skills a team has complement those of the leader. Combining complementary skills capitalizes on the natural formation of groups, turning them into teams. A successful team is a portrait of diversity: diverse, professional backgrounds, experience, temperament, intelligence, behavior, extroversion, introversion, dominance, emotional stability. People with identical ideas and reactions, “yes-men,” or just clever people won’t make a good team.

By forming his or her team(s), a leader replace individualist, competitive management style with a more trusting and cooperative style. Selection is the most important. Without the right people nothing is possible.

The advantages of a team:
  • Input of many people of diverse skills
  • Getting the best out of each other
  • Diverse experience, knowledge, and judgement
  • Not dependent on any individual (succession planning)
  • Self-regeneration by recruitment
  • Passing experience to new members

A team is made from the right climate and characteristics:
  • Mutual trust and cooperation
  • Openness and reciprocal support
  • Disagreement without conflict
  • Elimination of status differences
  • Leveling of human differences

  • Mixed composition of 6 to 9 people
  • Regular face-to-face meetings with frequent interaction
  • No “us” and “them”
  • Clear purpose, commitment, and identification with each other
  • Structured and divergent, but disciplined
  • Mutual care among team players, with a will to do the job well so others do theirs

It’s like the analogy of a conductor and his orchestra. To harmonize all instruments, the orchestra needs a conductor. Teams also need a conductor – a leader – to coordinate, resolve conflicts, and unite the team to a common purpose. It requires great interpersonal skill. Leading a team is a good experience, a stepping stone to higher leadership.

You can’t make a good soccer team out of the eleven best goalkeepers. You need good players of different skills.

In the next post I’ll discuss the composition and roles of a team and how to use them to be successful.

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