Building HPTs Rule #5: We Will Honor and Leverage Each Other’s Strengths

Over the years I have had the opportunity build and lead many teams. Whether it was an existing team I was charged with or building a team from scratch, I observed a very predictable group dynamic.

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman introduced a model for group development known by many as Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing. In this model Tuckman asserts that in the first stage of team building (forming), individual behavior is influenced by a desire to be accepted by the others and avoid controversy or conflict. In this phase team members tend to be self-centered, trying to gain the trust and confidence of teammates and the team leader. While Tuckman claims this is an important stage in team building, he acknowledges that very little work is accomplished during this time.

High-performing teams are able to move through this stage quickly, making them productive much more quickly than others. So, how does this happen? Is it personal chemistry that allows one group to move more quickly through these stages than others? The simple answer is no.

Leaders skilled in building HPTs understand the human dynamics related to Tuckman’s model and are able to accelerate matters by appealing to a need greater than the desire to be accepted. It is the need to have value. Each and every one of us needs to feel purpose in our lives. It is what validates us in our humanity. It is what gives us soul.

While many people on a team can possess the exact same skill, each individual on the team possesses a unique mix of attributes, gifts and talents that allows him/her to offer unique value to the team. The first order of business for an effective leader is to quickly identify the unique value of each team member, and to call it out publicly.

Let’s be clear. I am not suggesting that you announce to the team that the finance person, Tina, is good at finance. Everyone expects Tina to be good at finance. That is what she was trained for. If she’s not good at finance, she shouldn’t be on the team. A good leader will quickly recognize that Tina has the ability to see patterns of opportunity emerge, or that George excels at building consensus. A good leader recognizes Natalie’s gift for diffusing disagreements before they accelerate into all-out warfare, and Tim’s attention to detail.

Once an inventory is taken of each team member’s unique capabilities, the HPT leader must honor each one publicly. Letting both the individual and the team know the value this unique gift brings validates each individual on the team in a meaningful way. By quickly calling it out, you can accelerate the forming stage, allowing team members to shift the center of focus from themselves to the establishment and attainment of goals and objectives.

In summary, rule #5 for building high-performing teams is that we will honor the unique strengths of each individual on the team, and rely on those strengths to help us achieve our goals.  Stay tuned for rule #6 in an upcoming post.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Site Index