How much difference does teamwork make? At the Olympic Games held in Greece in 2004, on paper the 4x100m U.S. team were the firm favourites to take the gold medal. They were the current record holders and 15 times winners of the event. By contrast, no runners from Team GB reached the finals of either the 100m or 200m races that year. The odds were definitely in favour of the Americans. In the heats, the Americans’ margin over Team GB was about half a second! In the race itself a fumbled baton handover put the U.S. team just behind as they went into the final straight. It went down to the wire and Team GB won the race by 0.01 seconds! The result was down to teamwork.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard
Reflecting on this quote by Ken Blanchard you can see what can be achieved by people coming together behind a single vision or purpose. Think about the teams you are on now and those you have been part of in the past. What is true of every team is each person on the team is different to you.
Teams are made up of individuals who each look at the world differently, bringing perspectives and experience which enable better decision making, creativity, innovation, and creating a sense of belonging to something larger than the sum of its parts.
When teams work well together there is a multiplier effect where ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results. In other words, as the acronym goes, Together Everyone Achieves More. When teams are working well they are great to be a part of and do achieve amazing results, when teams are not working well the results can be equally impactful just in a negative direction.
Great teams need great leaders who know how to set a culture which enables this to happen. High performing teams do not happen by accident; great teams are born out of great team culture.
In my new book “I See You,” these are a couple of the questions there which help the leader and the team start thinking about how you go about creating a great team culture (the full list can be found in the book):
- What are the components of your team culture that could be undermining its effectiveness and should be looked at?
- Who is it that sets this culture and or who has the most influence over it?
- What does a high-performance team culture look like in your context?
Answering these questions effectively, takes your team from good to great. Team potential does not have to be wasted. Each member of the team is a valuable human being with ideas, skills, and talents which if utilised well will add to the greater whole.
Recent research commissioned by Atlassian indicates that team members are 80% more likely to report emotional well-being in a team characterised by transparent decision-making, where people can contribute and share ideas safely and people own their mistakes.
What kind of team do you want to belong to?
Some characteristics of great teams would be:
- A clear and compelling vision of a better future.
- Open and clear communication.
- An environment of safety where ideas can be shared without fear of being cut-off or cut down.
- Awareness of self and others.
Hight trust between team members, leadership, and each other
When team members are aligned and working for the good of the team, then amazing things can happen like winning the 4x100m gold medal at the Olympic games!
Remember the words of John C. Maxwell:
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”