How Leaders Create Effective Teams
Teamwork has a positive effect on people's experience at work.
Interacting directly with people who have different knowledge and skills makes work more interesting, enriching, and meaningful. In businesses where teamwork is common, employees learn from each other, enjoy a broader understanding of the work and how it gets done from start to finish, and can better see and act on opportunities for improvement.
Teamwork also benefits businesses by allowing people to combine their knowledge to create new products, services or implement new procedures. Through teamwork, diverse employees representing different attitudes, values, and beliefs perform in an environment of mutual respect, shared knowledge and shared goals. Imagine all of this work occurring in iterative, self-regulating cycles of improvement and innovation that guarantee organisational success.
Leadership Actions Can Promote Teamwork
Teamwork and learning do not happen automatically. Instead, they require co-ordination and some structure to ensure that insights are gained from members' collective experience and used to guide subsequent action.
It takes leadership to adhere to process discipline and to help people remember to explore and experiment. In short, leadership is needed to help groups build shared understanding and to co-ordinate action:
Action 1: Frame the situation for learning. Framing is crucial for leading the kind of change necessary to engage people as active learners. Leaders seeking to facilitate teamwork and produce organisational learning must frame their project in a way that motivates others to collaborate.
Action 2: Make it psychologically safe to team. An environment of psychological safety is an essential element of businesses that succeed in today's complex and uncertain world. The team psychological safety describes a climate in which people feel free to express relevant thoughts and feelings without fear of being penalised.
Action 3: Learn from failure. An essential, if difficult, teamwork activity is learning from failure. Failure, broadly defined, encompasses both the small and large events in organisations that don't go as planned.
Action 4: Span occupational and cultural boundaries. Teams that succeed today don't merely work well around a shared conference table: they also have the ability to collaborate across boundaries and reach people who have the knowledge and information to help them apply resources effectively. Rapid developments in technology and the greater emphasis on globalisation have dramatically increased the significance of boundary spanning in today's work environment.
Trust is Essential
Productively engaging the conflict that teamwork creates is done not by avoiding emotions and personal differences, but rather by developing a willingness to explore different beliefs and values.
Leaders hoping to employ teamwork, and to promote the learning that accompanies it, need to develop the leadership skills necessary to engage conflict effectively. Fostering an atmosphere in which trust and respect thrive, and flexibility and innovation flourish, pays off even in the most deadline-driven work settings.
Reference: Teaming: How Organisations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Amy C. Edmondson