Great teams are a pleasure to work with. They deliver great
results, excite people to perform at peak levels, and become
memorable role models for others.
In a great team there is a collective push for excellence, for
finishing, and for finding solutions to obstacles that stand in the
Those are three of the key competencies of teamwork. That's what
makes a team unstoppable. Of course, other things are required,
such as know-how and a penchant for sharing common values.
But there are degrees of teamwork, just as there are shades of
gray. And teamwork is as fuzzy as all those shades. Books,
programs, and speeches have been devoted to teams, teamwork, and
team building. But books and programs remain precisely that, books
and programs. Rarely do they make great teams.
How you build teams, engage people, focus their energies, and
obtain results, is very cultural. What works in one place may not
work in another. However, these three things span across many
nations, work ethics, and cultural values.
Something to Gain
Team members are not in the business to provide free lunches. There
must be something to gain, and it must be meaningful to the team
members. It is often assumed, incorrectly, that a single
recognition or reward program will work for each member. In a great
team the gain is very individual, as unique as the member.
The gain might be money, experience, meaningful learning, power,
status, appreciation, growth, or others. The team leader and the
organization must be cognizant of the expected gain. To run a great
team, the leader must create a vision of personal gain for each
member and then spend time and effort communicating the gain. This
creates excitement, generates commitment, and leads to
Desire to Finish
Personal reward is not good enough. If you are too focused on
personal gain, you breed individual contributors, not team members.
Personal gain has to be woven in with team gains. Team members must
have eagerness, a desire to achieve team objectives. Energy,
creativity, problem solving, and focus come from wanting to achieve
a goal. While the gain is personal, the desire to finish
is about team objective.
The leader's role is pivotal in creating the desire to finish. The
leader articulates a vision that touches team members in an
emotional and a rational sense. The vision is more about the heart
than the head. Being number one has more appeal than getting an X
percent return on assets or scoring Z on the customer satisfaction
If it's not important to business, it shouldn't be done. Many teams
flounder because nobody really wants them to deliver outstanding
results. Sponsorship is important.
In the end, a team gets done what it sets out to do not because
resources exist, not because someone organizes a workshop, and not
because the team has a name. It wins because its members have a
desire to finish, each member is clear on what they stand to gain,
and because of these two they find a way to make business sense of