When we look at teams in sport, we often hear about how team dynamics are impacting the game. These may even change during the season, sometimes developing into winning or losing streaks depending on the circumstances. What we know is that “understanding team dynamics can enable prediction and prevention of maladaptive responses under pressure.” (PSPC article, D. Barclay & D. Dymond, 2014)
Likewise, in leadership, team dynamics can significantly impact creativity, progress, performance and outcomes. A sense of belonging and interdependence to the team is key to creating positive team dynamics. Hence the critical question, what team do you play for?
Who do you prioritise?
We have Patrick Lencioni to credit for much of the research around team dynamics and in particular for coining the concept of Team #1 or first team as it is often referred to. In short, “members of the leadership team are focused on team number one. They put the collective priorities and needs of the larger organisation ahead of their own departments”.
This view of the team #1 can feel somewhat limited to a vertical and hierarchical idea of leadership. The words executive team and leadership team vs their own team and direct reports are central to the concept in Lencioni’s work. He emphasizes that for the benefit of the organisation, leaders have to prioritise the team of their peers over their subordinates.
He quickly explains that by creating cohesion and clarity within the leadership team the effect on the people in the lower ranks of the organisation will be beneficial as well. When their leaders are working together, direct reports will not be left to fight their departmental battles against each other. Ok, we get it.
But there’s another great element to this team #1 concept that we believe is of great importance and can be shared further across the organisation. That is the idea that your first team is your support crew, your tribe.
Who’s your support crew?
This is not exclusive to the ‘Leadership Team’. The first team mindset can be transferred to different teams or even groups or cohorts created for this purpose. It is based on working collaboratively with your peers with a focus on greater outcomes for all, and treating them as your support crew.
Breaking silos on every level
We don’t tire to repeat that leadership doesn’t come just from the top, that it can, and should, be exercised at all levels. Leadership groups of many kinds can have great impact through healthy team dynamics of their own based on cohesion, trust and a common goal.
THE KEY INGREDIENTS ARE:
– Accountability to one another
– Clear and specific expectations
– Ensuring you regularly get together and share experiences
– Interdependence, inviting your peers to help you solve your problems.
– Vulnerability and open communication
– And most importantly a sense of belonging and motivation to be present
and behave as a member of this team.
Actively exercising leadership and collaboration comes in many shapes and shades
We are establishing and working with cohorts in organisations where leaders across different business units come together to develop their leadership, connection and impact as a group. We have seen the flourishing of the team #1 mentality in approaching organisational priorities, supporting each other and giving and receiving different perspectives. Ultimately, the outcomes our clients are seeing is better decision making, increased engagement, belonging and maximised organisational performance.
To develop the key ingredients of your team for greater impact, please get in touch.