Smart teams win

I seldom repost other blogs, although I do mention some of the more helpful blogs I follow, but this week is an exception. Earlier this week, as the Women’s World Cup was moving toward its conclusion (and my current nation was beating my original nation), Dan Rockwell posted about teamwork on his Leadership Freak blog. Specifically smart teamwork.

I was struck by Dan’s insights, and so I am linking you directly to Dan Rockwell’s blog post, where you can read the whole article.

In summary, he listed five keys to having a smart team, rather than a stupid team:

  1. Team members disagree with the team leader.

  2. Conversations feel unscripted and spontaneous, not directed by the leader.

  3. Team members engage in vigorous debate.

  4. Team members notice emotional states, creating stronger connection.

  5. Smart teams explore crazy ideas.

I love these keys, because they are mostly counterintuitive (and thus overlooked by many team leaders). Of course, it is a rare team that is secure enough to be smart in the ways Dan suggests. Safety is one of his three ideas for developing smart teams, along with eliminating monologues and practicing social sensitivity.

In my experience, social sensitivity comes from emphasizing transparency and understanding among team members - and this causes safety to increase dramatically. These two become a positive feedback loop; tangible safety allows demonstrations of sensitivity - “something seems to be troubling you”, and this invites honesty in communication which reinforces safety.

These teamwork benefits are why I became a leadership and communication coach. I’ve always wanted to be a team player, but I’ve seen too many instances of insecure or poorly-informed leadership hindering effective teamwork. Since communication is at the heart of teamwork, that’s where I focus.

Smart teams are led by smart leaders, and smart teams win.