Just like the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, great teams do not happen by accident. There has to be deliberate intention in investing in the team and a shared goal that is bigger than any one team member.
Great leadership is essential and skilled players critical. But it is always the quality of their interactions that matter most. Over the years, I’ve studied hundreds of teams in multiple industries, including sports. And on each team I’ve taken dozens of measurements, analyzed the data, and looked for patterns. The highest performing teams across all organizations have identifiable traits and characteristics.
On extraordinary teams, team members have each other’s backs and are focused on team success. They put the team agenda ahead of any personal agenda and commit to work for a teammate’s success with as much energy and attention as they work for their own.
But most importantly, when things go south, as they always do, the best teams talk about it.
The highest performing teams are:
- 106 times more likely to give each other tough feedback
- 125 times more likely to call each other out for poor performance
- 50 more likely to openly discuss conflict
The traits and characteristics of the highest performing teams can be learned and taught. They are as replicable as they are identifiable. If you are interested in having a Super Bowl winning team this year, take the following steps:
- Make sure your players know how to play their position and are playing it. Lack of role clarity and how job responsibilities connect with the larger goal is often at the root of poor performance on the team.
- Define the goal and ensure the whole team is bought in. From the last day of last season, The Patriots’ unwavering focus was Superbowl LII. Does everyone on your team understand the overarching and unified team goal?
- Establish the standards of performance. What are the behavioral and operating norms all team members will be held accountable to uphold? Do you hold all team members accountable to the same standards, no matter what their position or how much of a “superstar” they are?
- Extend trust to team members. Assume positive intent and if you don’t understand a teammate’s motivation or behavior, find out what may be behind it.
- When the going gets tough, have the tough conversations. When things are challenging and the scoreboard says you are losing, improvements and change are required. Without feedback and debate, and the team’s willingness to engage in honest, sometimes even uncomfortable dialogue, change never occurs.
Linda Adams is a Leadership Development expert and co-founder of the Trispective Group. She is the co-author of “The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations.” For more information, or to take a free team snapshot assessment, please visit, www.trispectivegroup.com. Blog editor’s note: this is a lightly edited, condensed version of a news release.