Three traits of winning teams

COMBINED EFFORT: Japanese players celebrate their winning goal during the dying minutes of their quarter-final football match against Australia at the Women's World Cup on Saturday. In order to move forward effectively, all team members have to be confident and know that their roles are significant.


    Jun 30, 2015

    Three traits of winning teams

    MOST of us have our vision of a "perfect team" and expect our team to be a well-oiled machine from the start.

    Choosing the right people for your team is important but the reality is that, most of the time, we are put in a team that we did not choose, with individuals who are very different from ourselves.

    Earlier this month, I worked as a facilitator for a six-day programme for young people aged between 14 and 16. They came from different social and economic backgrounds, each with their own personalities and leadership styles.

    I can tell you that things do not come easy when people with diverse interests are required to work together to accomplish a common goal. It takes courage to be able to work with new people and learn how to utilise the different strengths of each team member to work towards a common goal.


    In his groundbreaking 1965 article, psychologist Bruce Tuckman described what he coined the "storming" phase: A situation that occurs when individuals with different leadership styles and personalities are put together, causing misunderstandings and disagreements to arise.

    Two members of a group in a discussion I was facilitating misunderstood each other, resulting in a quarrel. As a facilitator, I did not see that incident as something negative.

    Instead, I saw it as an opportunity for the team to learn about respect, communication and moving forward together as one. It is crucial that teams learn to deal with disagreements and communicate with one another.

    In one of our camp sessions, we asked campers to discuss and share their individual take on certain issues. After everyone had a chance to say their piece, each team would work towards making a group decision.

    Although certain members of a group had differing views, the team still needed to learn about communicating to one another with respect and to move forward as a team by putting aside their differences.


    Vision is very important in any team. Without vision, a well-oiled team would have no real purpose to work towards.

    A vision would mean a goal, purpose or direction that the team has to focus on. It is very important that the team set a vision that they believe in.

    As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how."

    The stronger the vision is for the team, the more focused and determined the group will be when facing challenges.


    We have to realise, however, that everyone is crucial to the team. A team comprises individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. In order to move forward effectively, every member has to be confident and know that his role is significant.

    All we need to do is to find a role that suits our strengths and the team's needs. What we perceive as an insignificant role may be the one thing that keeps the team running well.

    Many a time, we develop a sense of fear because of past experiences of working in a team. Some of us may be intimidated by the very thought of working in a team with different people.

    However, in order to grow as a leader and as an individual, we have to step out of our comfort zones.

    If you are working in a team now or in the future, know that it would not be an easy journey, but a worthwhile one.


    The writer works with the youth team of Leaderonomics, a social enterprise that, among other things, trains leaders in various fields.