The Five Practices of Smart Teams
Teams, like individuals, can be stupid or smart.
Stupid teams consists of smart people who engage in stupid behaviors.
The 5 practices of smart teams:
#1. Team members disagree with the team leader.
Smart teams don’t have dominant leaders. The lid of a team’s intelligence is the dominant person who controls the team.
Effective leaders keep teams focused on important issues. (That’s skill, not dominance.)
Effective leaders establish and control the direction of conversations. Dominant leaders control the content of conversations.
Dominant leaders stifle conversations. Effective leaders ignite conversations.
#2. Conversations feel unscripted and spontaneous.
I heard an ineffective leader say, “I never hold a meeting until I’m sure of the outcome.” That leader has a stupid team.
It doesn’t matter how smart the individual players are if meetings are scripted.
Tip: Get heads turning toward each other, not the head of the table.
#3. Team members engage in vigorous debate.
Smart teams engage in respectful conflict.
Constructive dissent challenges thinking and sparks creativity.
#4. Team members notice emotional states.
Smart teammates say, “Something seems to be bothering you,” when a fellow team member isn’t them self.
Smart teams connect and care. Stupid teams bury their heads and stick to business.
Strong connection is the foundation for vigorous debate. (See behavior #3.)
#5. Smart teams explore crazy ideas.
Creative ideas don’t fit the mold.
Smart teams ask, “What if?”
3 ways to develop smart teams:
#1. Create psychological safety.
Anything that makes a team unsafe makes a team stupid.
Teams get smarter when the people around the table speak freely.
#2. Eliminate monologues.
Expect equal participation from every member, on average.
Monologues move teams from dumb to dumber.
#3. Practice social sensitivity.
Explore, don’t ignore emotion. “Professional” teams are dumb.
Smart teams may not be soft, but they are safe.
Have you been on a smart team? What made it smart?
Amy Edmondson, “The Fearless Organization.”
Patrick Lencioni, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”
How to Avoid Distraction and Focus on Real Issues
Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups
I first read about smart teams in Charles Duhigg’s book, “Smarter Faster Better.”
The smart teams that I have been on had the following:
— a great facilitator, who was able to clarify issues, summarize themes, and re-frame the issue that needed to be addressed.
— a great team leader who made us follow the operating rules we had established.
— talented team members who had great task skills and good people skills.
— and we learned from our mistakes.
Thanks Paul. I’ve been thinking about the importance of learning. Leaders who aren’t learning are growing dumb. Your last point speaks to me.
Your first points remind me of the importance of good leadership. Maxwell said, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.”
“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
That’s appropriate for the Independence Day. Thanks Duane.
Hopefully we don’t have to start shooting at each other.
Smart and successful teams need a organizer (leader) who is willing to accept disagreements with their position and between team members. The leader then facilitates the discussion in an attempt to build consensus. A meeting in which the outcome is predetermined is a waste of time for all involved, a memo could take place of the sermon. Unfortunatly most meetings are a captive audience for the leader. It takes courage for a leader & organizer to listen to other opinions.
“Monologues move teams from dumb to dumber” WOW! way to call it Dan. I love teams that can really turn it up in a meeting. The secure leader loves it, the control freak not so much.
This! “Get heads turning toward each other, not the head of the table” – it might begin with the way the room is arranged in addition to the agenda and how the leader leads. Most importantly it’s about getting members engaged so they will want to turn their heads! Great food for thought!
Great article and information. I generally agree with everything presented. I suppose a question I have, is what respect plays into the dynamics of the team. And what I mean by that is that eventually a decision has to be made. That decision may not always be directly in line with what everyone is thinking. As a team member you should respect the leader and their role. what are your thoughts on this?
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