There are a lot of theories about what makes successful teams and we have a tendency to go far afield to look for answers that sometimes can be right under our noses. You will read stuff like successful teams communicate well with each other, the team members respect each other, the team has fun, etc. While this may be true, this is more about how a successful team behaves than what made the team a success in the first place.
I believe the 2 main secrets of a successful team are hidden within the definition of a team and why a team is needed in the first place. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean:
Secret # 1: Collaborative Decision Making
One reason a team is formed or that it evolves is that there is a general consensus that the team will enable better and more collaborative decision-making. After all, a team by definition is based on the concept that two heads are better than one. But in many cases, managers and team members continue to prefer making solo decisions due to lack of trust, or perhaps a belief that team decisions might take too long, etc. When decision-making and problem solving becomes an individual effort in the presence of a team, the raison d’être of the team is compromised. Conversely, when team members recognize that when the team as a whole is given the challenge to solve a problem and make a decision, this creates a sense of ownership and loyalty within the team and confidence in the performance and outcome.
So it is would be absolutely true to say that a team is great because it has learned to make team decisions that are of a far higher quality than the kind of decisions that would have been made if there wasn’t a team in the first place. How does a team know it is making great decisions that are better than individual decisions? Because the team results are there for everyone to see.
Secret # 1 – More Ambitious Goals
Another reason a team comes into being is that a team can set more ambitious goals that push the envelope whereas an individual can feel overwhelmed and might choose lower risk, easier to achieve goals. After all, isn’t this the bit about the whole being bigger than the sum of the parts? Nine times out of ten and when given latitude and license, a successful team will come out with a bigger and more compelling goal and then achieve it than what an individual manager can even begin to articulate.
A team knows it is great when it has started to set big, ambitious goals then surprises everyone by how confidently it achieves these goals consistently, time after time.