Team or Group? – learn to unlock collective potential

Team Development

“Are you a team or a group?” I asked those in the room at a High Performing ‘Human’ Team workshop last week.

“Of course we’re a team,” one of those attending responded sharply.

“Why?” I asked without hesitation.

Through the conversation that followed, a realisation swept over the people in the room.

“We’re not a team,” stated the leader.

“If we were a team,” another person concluded, “we would need to be properly working together and supporting each other.”

This type of conversation is common for so many groups who start to focus on team development. They call themselves a team, and in most cases, they have ‘team’ meetings. But when you get to the essence of it, they are just a group who meet on a regular basis.

What makes a team?

There is a simple characteristic that separates a team from a group, which is:

A team has unifying vision that people work interdependently together to achieve.

Without a unifying vision there is nothing that focuses their activity in a common direction. However, even with a unifying vision, there can only be a team if there is interdependency between members, because it is this which creates multiplier effect.

Creating the vision

Too much theory on creating a vision draws people into creating broad statements that feel exciting in the moment, but which rapidly lose their relevance when the work starts.

For most teams, focusing just on the question of…

What value will we contribute as a team?

…is a great place to start.

Through this question the attention is drawn to how the team focuses beyond themselves to the role they play within their organisation.

Applying the multiplier

Once the definition of a unifying vision has started to take shape, the focus must shift to how people focus their energy to achieve it.

Interdependency in its purest form is the need for people within the team to have to rely on each other for delivering what’s needed. Many teams fail to apply this multiplier as it creates tension in the dynamic, where they believe that interdependency creates delays or friction.

Furthermore, in today’s competitive business environment, for too long the emphasis has been on individual performance rather than collective achievement, causing people to shy away for an over-reliance on others.

To apply the multiplier and become a high performing ‘human’ team, it is critical to focus on team development. This means openly exploring and establishing the interdependency between members of the team, including agreeing how the interdependency will be brought to life through everyday activities.

Time to be a team

Creating and leading a high performing ‘human’ team can feel daunting. However, for a leader to really unlock the collective potential and enable the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts, they must take time with their people to set define unifying vision and establish how they will work interdependently to achieve it.

Something to consider…

Take a minute to assess whether your team is really a team, or just a group. Do you have a unifying vision? Do you have true interdependency between members?

Something to try…

Take a minute to plan how you will work with your team create a foundation for high performance.

About Muru

Are you looking to create a high performing ‘human’ team?

At Muru we help leaders and their teams gain real clarity and focus on how they will contribute greater value by working together.

To find out more contact Rob Cross at rob.cross@muruleadership.com or call him on +44 (0) 78417 06417.

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