4 Elements of a Successful Team

Successful teams, whether in sports or business are constructed with the same elements.

Whether that is a team striving for a championship or an operations team in a shipping company managing the day to day operations of a vessel, both require a group of diverse people working together effectively & efficiently.

While there are numerous characteristics of successful teams, four, in particular, are at the core. These four build upon each other, creating an ideal team dynamic.

1. Clear goals make strategy everyone's job

All businesses have goals, whether they involve growth, meeting sales figures or complete reinvention. A common characteristic of a struggling team is a wide gap between ideas and accomplishment.

Aligning your team towards clear goals and making them transparent helps identify if there are insufficient resources or other issues that could hinder success. The following article from Inc, outline 7 questions to help set more effective team goals. As part of the curriculum in Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence professional development training course, this article outlines how great leaders build and nurture collaborative teams. Consider the some of the following:

  • Writing down goals translates to an 80% higher chance of achieving them.

  • Leaders must “paint a picture”of success with clearly communicated objectives that everyone can visualize and understand.

  • Set specific, challenging, yet obtainable goals enhances performance.

  • To increase success rate, make sure there is alignment between personal, team, and organizational objectives.

  • Challenging goals often lead to higher performance.

  • Make sure that everyone knows their next step

2. Trust is the glue that bonds teams

When goals are visible and relatable, teams can develop stronger bonds. Clear goals have a side effect of removing resentment between team members and building trust. The resulting team rapport helps spread responsibility and ensure that varied talents are leveraged. Some businesses encourage a strong sense of identity through team-building efforts. When team members trust and respect each other, goals get accomplished more easily. The following highlights real life examples of successful teamwork which includes:

  • Team work begins with on-boarding, consider having new people shadow a mentor

  • Role switching, walking in the shoes of another team member

  • Scheduling discussion times of self reflection with others on what is working or not working

  • Establishing team traditions to build a strong sense of identity

  • Peer to peer recognition to positively motivate others

3. Diversity in capabilities

Think of your teams, whether in sports or at work, is your MVP doing all the heavy lifting? Every team member has a talent to bring to the table, and by taking advantage of your organization's collective skill set, you can ensure success. Studies show that diverse operations are likely to be more innovative and solve problems faster. The “Center for Talent Innovation” found that companies with diverse employees are 70% more likely to report new or improved market share than companies with non-diverse employee populations.

The BCG has written that diversity is crucial for organizations for two reasons;

  • First, diversity builds resilience. Enduring systems behave and respond to external stimuli in varying ways

  • Second, diversity of problem-solving behavior permits a system to evolve and adapative

The following article highlights how to unlock the full potential of diverse teams.


4. Communication is the foundation of any team

Lastly, teams cannot be effective without clear communication. It sounds like a basic statement that all should know, but often team members thwart open communication. This is one key area where an organization is often not at fault; instead individual members can prevent success.

Forbes reported on a wide ranging study that Deloitte conducted on the business challenges of managing people today. Among the 7,000+ companies who responded, the report found that “feedback and free flow of information” were key to success. As teams operate and customers interact with the company, we must share information about what's working, what isn't working, what's selling, and what problems we have to address. The article recommends that organizations build an inclusive culture of open and transparent feedback.