I’m sure everyone has been part of a team at some point. Maybe you are currently part of a team. The idea of a team can be thrilling, energetic, fun, and sometimes a huge let down.
Every team usually has a leader, a take charge person. This leadership could come from ownership, management, or even grunt level. The leader usually has a dominant personality, but on rare occasions you find a leader leading by example and through humility.

What makes a great team? What destroys a team?

I think the best way to answer this question is to first understand the importance of teams. A team is comprised of a group of people having strengths and weaknesses all joining together to accomplish tasks. Those tasks serve as the checklist of the long term vision, but who sets the vision?

In Vietnam, American soldiers were asked quite frequently to battle for hills. These served as great tactical vantage points and were desired by American leadership to setup firebases. Depending on the strength of the strategy there were usually causalities suffered by the assault teams.  At times the loss of team members was so great that the NVA was able to overrun the American’s position and reclaim a hill. This tireless battle of large mounds of land often was demoralizing and played a heavy toll on American soldier’s mental morale.
So how does this relate to teams within businesses?

The marketplace is the corporate battlefield where everyone is competing for market share. Corporations are the war machines sending capital investments, human resources, and marketing dollars into battle in hopes to capture greater profits.  The teams are formed and the war begins.

What makes a great team?
I believe a great team is only produced through a great vision. It is formed by attracting passionate people who like to think. Notice I didn’t say learn. While learning is important I believe there has been an over emphasis on learning in the last ten years compared to creative problem solving and free thinking. America is churning out educated zombies and book learners only prepared to solve business problems with dated answers from text books. These students were trained to regurgitate answers to professors to simply make the grade. These same students then transfer into job positions and behave in the same way towards their bosses and managers.

A great team must not be afraid to challenge their leader and to test the strength of the vision set forth without consequences.  As President Kennedy was once quoted, “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”

Team members must not have sensitive egos or be afraid to voice opinions. Above all of this a team must have fun in the process. The human brain has been shown to be most powerful while in a state of having fun, so why not capitalize on it?

What kills a team?
In closing we also need to better understand factors that kill great teams.

Not promoting from within – I believe team members can produce better results if they know that their hard work is not in vain.

Killing creativity for profits – Consumers do not care about your profits. They only care about what benefits and adds value to them. Cracking the whip over a great team for the sake of profit alone will lead to a weak team. Striving for creativity leads to capturing the mind share of consumers. This in turn will lead a business to greater profits, not the other way around.

Win together – Celebrate the winning idea, not just the person. Take the focus off of one person and make it about the entire group. Acknowledge everyone’s contribution as the winning formula to the team’s success.

Disrespect – Team members will at times not always agree, but you can disagree respectfully. Apologize often and make friends not enemies. A great team leader will always look for ways to bring out the best in everyone.