Not long ago I was asked, “What’s at the heart of every great team?” It’s a thought-provoking question with arguments to be made for a number of answers—but I didn’t have to think long about my response: the foundation for great teamwork is communication.
Great teams communicate well and often. They share ideas, brainstorm, ask one another for feedback and have healthy conflicts. They may not agree on everything, but they know how to work through their differences to settle on a sound solution and continue moving forward together.
Here are some of the most important ways great teams foster the kind of communication that keeps them performing at their peak:
Speak clearly. The clearer and more concise you are, the better you’ll be understood and the more quickly and efficiently things will get done. Effective communication processes ensure high standards for clarity, speed and content while avoiding politicizing, gossiping and stonewalling.
Listen actively. Active listening is a simple skill for ensuring clear communication. At its core, it’s nothing more than repeating back what one has heard to confirm a mutual understanding. The person originally speaking may start by saying, “To confirm that we have the same understanding, what did you hear me say?” and the listener responds, “What I heard you say….”
Inquire curiously. In stages of discussion when ideas are being generated and gathered, team communication should use open-ended questions to provoke inquiry and curiosity. Communication that promotes wide-ranging thinking and mutual learning creates a deeper pool of creative ideas than a rush to react with a solution.
Share frequently. Great teams encourage collaboration and build a strong knowledge base with robust channels for sharing and information and ideas. The ability to freely share knowledge without gaps or silos is the cornerstone of teams that work well together.
Collaborate effectively. Great teams work together cooperatively, not competitively, in ways that promote effective working relationships—which, in turn, leads to better team performance and overall productivity. Collaboration is encouraged across departments, management levels, and functions on a regular basis.
Connect religiously. Connection is perhaps the most crucial component in building a productive and efficient team. Connected teams drive collaboration, nurture healthy relationships and promote knowledge sharing—all the elements that create high-functioning teams. The more connected your team members feel to one another and to their leadership, the more valued they’ll feel and the more effective the team will be.
Teamwork has never been easy, but in recent years it has become much more complex. And the trends that make it more difficult seem likely to continue as teams become increasingly global, virtual and project-driven. Understanding the factors that come together to make great teams work at their best will be more important than ever before.
Lead from within: If you want to set your team up for success, take their communication seriously. Being intentional about building strong communication makes all the difference.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.