The Alchemy of great teamwork

Is great teamwork about “being nice to each other” or about “doing your part in well defined roles”? Or is it a lot more amorphous? Is teamwork created by discipline, hard goals, and good management? Or is it a lot more based on creative chemistry between people? Is teamwork about getting things done or is it about “bringing the best out in everyone”?

To me, great teamwork is nothing less than Alchemy – a process to transmute each member from “base metals” into “noble ones” (Gold in Particular). Essentially great team work is one which unleashes the creative intelligence in each one of the team members. So in essence true teamwork can only be assessed by how it transforms each individual and not just by the short term results.

So what is this Alchemy that creates magic? How do we do it? Here are some of the my thoughts on.

Vision & Cohesiveness
A common aligned purpose is the start of the Alchemy between a team. Without a shared purpose or goal, there is nothing really exciting to come together.

A big and challenging vision always excites and energizes individuals “beyond themselves” and creates the internal impetus to working well with others.

It is then, the CEO / Team leaders job to start every initiative or coming together of the team with this empowering vision. A vision that is exciting as well as something that every team member would like to be part of in their own way.

It is the team leaders job also to “articulate and paint” what success would look like and also lay down the broad parameters of the approach to success.

Essentially, the idea here is to “Inspire” the team and provide “Guiding Principles” to the approach and leave them after that to “self organize”.

Contribution & Collaboration

Once the vision and goals are set, the team Alchemy starts:

• Situational leaders emerge from the team to drive the process forward
• Individuals offer to contribute in a certain ways based on their competency and interest
• Collaboration starts (or not) based on the culture of the organization

During this process the key role of the leader is to be a “Catalyst” and “Support” and not manage. Why?

The whole magic of how things are done depends on excitement and individual ownership of the team members and not on a manager managing them to the goals.

This is where most leaders end up being annoying micro managers.  At the first hint of things becoming chaotic they take charge and kill ownership of the team. How the leader handles this stage is what defines whether Alchemy happens or not.

Of course, for Alchemy to happen at this stage a lot of work has to be done in two areas:

1. building organization culture of collaboration and
2. putting the right team together with right skills and interpersonal chemistry

Without the positive connectedness in the team and the culture, Alchemy is impossible.

“Yes! We did it” – nothing is more powerful than that feeling. To ensure that, make it a habit to celebrate team successes with “full credit” to the team. Make noise, throw a party, and learn to tell an exciting story of how it all happened and how each one contributed uniquely to it.

The celebration at this stage is not just about the party but is really a celebration of “our uniqueness” as well as of “coming together”.

Celebrating successes with the right spirit sets the foundation for future successes.

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