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7 Characteristics of a Winning Team

To analyze the characteristics of a winning team, we have to look at three different layers of the team. 

Graphic Showing Meeting Collaboration

Without inspecting all three, you may be at a loss in trying to pinpoint the gap for your team. In my consulting work with teams, I find that many focus too narrowly on just one of these areas.

1. Characteristics of a Winning Team: Despite Differences, Team Members Rally Around a Common Goal

It's this top level that gets overlooked most often.

Sometimes, in an effort to win, teams forget that the only unity they need is unity around a common purpose. There may not be a need to resolve differences or even to understand them.

Team members don't necessarily need to agree on everything. They do, however, have to agree on what they're aiming for. Clarity of purpose is the first of the team characteristics that will lead to success. Without it, teams become fractured and frustrated.

With or without differences, teams that want to win also need to pay attention to two additional levels.

2. Characteristics of a Winning Team: Interdependence is Enabled by Mutual Respect and Trust

This is the one that is easiest for most to identify as a need for any team. Team building activities generally focus on building these characteristics.

Of course, these characteristics are imperative. If team members do not trust and respect each other, they won't rely on each other. Without trust and respect, teams can't win. They will always be bested by teams who are better able to depend on one another.

At the same time, this cannot be the sole focus when it comes to building a winning team. There are many groups of people who respect and trust each other but don't win. That's because it takes more than these foundational characteristics to reach further and achieve peak performance.

3. Characteristics of a Winning Team: Individual Strengths Are Leveraged

When there is mutual respect and trust, team members' differences become an asset and not a liability for the team.

Differences that once caused conflict or disdain now enable diversity of thought, robust discussion and innovation. By leveraging individual strengths, teams find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

This doesn't happen without deliberate intention. In fact, teams may inhibit expression of individual strengths if this is not expected and celebrated. That mutual respect and trust can be misconstrued as an expectation to downplay individual contributions. That's usually a mistake.

Balancing all three levels of these characteristics -- a common goal, interdependence and individuality -- yields the best results for teams.

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The CONNECT2Win Blog has been discontinued. The CONNECT2Lead Blog continues, and you'll find free and affordable resources for team on People First Leadership Academy