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5 questions every team leader MUST answer

August 12, 2015

There are lots of theories about what makes a team successful. Some are myths. Some have a nugget of truth. The leaders we work with would all agree that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to ensure team effectiveness. However, we’ve also found in our research that successful leaders of high-performance teams always ask (and can answer) these 5 important questions:

1. Are we set up for success?

There are those who will say that teamwork is all you need to achieve any goal. This is simply a myth. Teams that don’t have sufficient power, leadership, skills, or knowledge cannot succeed. To have a successful team, you must start with basic capabilities and talent. It sounds obvious, but a team cannot succeed without the right talent.

Do you have the talent you need to get the job done?

2. Are we focused on clear goals and priorities?

Teams can’t work together if they’re not focused on something. They need an overarching goal. If the goal inspires and provides meaning, the team will have the essential basis for working together. Teams with vague goals will not be able to prioritize tasks or assign accountability. This is a recipe for underperformance. You must consistently communicate clear goals and priorities for your team.

3. Do we have clear expectations of individual roles and norms of behavior?

Successful teams have clear roles and norms of behavior that encourage collaboration, experimentation, and innovation. The highest-performing teams leverage differences between members and leave status differences at the door. Clear-cut roles and norms lead to greater results because everyone is able to contribute fully.

4. Are we coordinated?

Successful teams don’t happen by accident. In fact, most high-performance teams have processes and ways of working together and making decisions. Conflicts emerge and are productively resolved. Conversations are balanced. A coordinated team is stronger and much more productive than the sum of its parts.

5. Are we thriving?

Great teams thrive when they have good answers to the first four questions and they are able to grow and adapt in an ever-changing environment. All high-performance teams have methods for sensing, adapting, and growing as things change. Thriving teams also have methods of getting and giving feedback (metrics). The strongest teams are deliberate about learning and adapting, and are comprised of members who know they will be recognized and rewarded for great results. Even the most successful teams must adapt and grow, or they won’t stay successful for long.

Are you asking the right questions? Are you getting the right answers? Leave a comment and let us know―we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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