Having excellent individuals in your team is an important aspect of a company’s overall success, but in today’s complexity, it is the teams that account for sustainable, repeated success – not the individuals. (Katzenbach and Smith, The Discipline of Teams, 1993)
As it is today, technologies, tasks, interconnections, and environments have become much too complex for one individual alone to leverage – no matter how much expertise he or she commands. Thus, it’s not as much the excellence of the individual that is going to make a real difference, it’s the way the team members work together and how aware they are of themselves and each other that will ultimately create lasting success.
To truly work with this fact, we need to change our perspective from concentrating on individual goals and responsibilities to concentrating on team goals and team responsibilities, thus making collaboration and mutual awareness our major focus. This changes our view of the team from being a set of individuals, to being an organism or entity in and of itself. This way of viewing teams brings with it a groundbreaking change in our way of working with teams and their leaders.
Teams become truly effective through awareness and conscious, intentional action. This doesn’t happen by chance, but instead is cultivated through clarity, transparency, a high degree of self determination, and the creation of an environment (safe space) in which each team member can voice his or her opinion, ask questions, or raise controversial issues. These are the factors that move teams into high performance. This is where creativity and innovation are born.
Effective teams have a high degree of awareness of themselves and their stakeholders, clarity of the goals and expectations placed upon them, transparency in terms of what is going on in the context around them, and agreed behavioral norms and standards which define their interactions with each other.
Team coaching helps teams successfully move into high performance and is especially useful for teams working in complex environments. It helps them re-frame their view of themselves, get a clear understanding of their goals, and assists them in collectively defining the behavioral norms they need to succeed. Additionally, team coaching is valuable for teams in the forming or storming phase.