Five Key Dynamics That Set Successful Teams Apart

The five key dynamics that set successful teams apart are: 

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Source: ReWork

Focus on safety first:

The most important factor in team success, by far, is psychological safety.

Safety means risk taking is OK. 

Remarkable success requires risk taking.

Skillful leaders build learning environments where risk taking is allowed, encouraged, and honored.

10 ways to make risk taking safe:

  1. Ask yourself, “How can I make it safe around here?”
  2. Listening like an elephant.
    • Ask questions that begin with “what” or “how”.
    • Nod and say, “I hear you.”
    • Provide short encouraging responses.
    • Don’t interrupt.
  3. Talk about personal mistakes.
  4. Begin with openness:
    • I could be wrong.
    • What do you think?
    • Here’s an option.
    • How can I help?
  5. Practice humility.
    • Ask questions about people, not just projects.
    • Say, “I could be wrong,” and mean it.
  6. Talk about things outside work like sports, restaurants, or movies.
  7. Go nuts with gratitude.
    1. Daniel Coyle writes that a small thank-you increases generosity by two times.
    2. Express public gratitude to the least powerful people in the room.
  8. Address tough issues publicly when appropriate. If everyone already knows, have public conversations. Focus on the future, not the past.
  9. Schedule one-on-ones at least once a month.
  10. Do menial work. Clean the kitchen and make the coffee. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, cleaned the mop bucket.

Bonus: If you want to build safe environments, do serious work with gravitas and joy. Laugh more.

How might leaders build safe environments without nurturing weakness?

Many items on the list are adapted from Daniel Coyles book, The Culture Code.