High-Performing Teams

Here are the super-powers of my own team.  We accomplish together what we could never accomplish alone.  

I was recently listening to a TED Talk on teamwork and the speaker introduced me to a quote from Abraham Lincoln which is worth remembering; "I don't like that man.  I must get to know him better".  

Within the workshops I facilitate on CliftonStrengths, I speak about how we see the world through the lens of our own talents.  What may irritate us about others really helps us understand more about ourselves.  It is very likely that the behaviors and actions of people we work with that drive us a bit crazy are actually talents and strengths which are foreign to us.  In the world of CliftonStrengths, these are "non-talents" near the bottom of your list of 34 that never "fire" or show up rarely within us.

One in thirty-three million people have the same "Top 5" CliftonStrengths in the same order.  Bringing these talents to work each day is diversity.  Having the ability to actually apply our unique talents and strengths in our workplace is inclusion.

I find it valuable for teams who work closely with one another to understand each other's strengths.  This is especially powerful when you are forming cross-functional matrixed teams.  The best partnerships happen when we agree upon a group goal and then combine forces with other people whose talents complement our own to achieve it.  We accomplish more together than we ever could alone.

Having a basic understanding and respect of each others' talents and a shared language around strengths positively impacts team collaboration, engagement and results.  In the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath, Gallup has identified 5 signs of strong, high-performing teams;

1. Conflict does not destroy strong teams because strong teams focus on results.  I opened this story with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.  He was also famous for assembling a "team of rivals" to serve him and who shared differing points of view and opinions.  Great teams don't avoid conflict.  Instead, they welcome respectful and open communication and gain strength and cohesion by considering differing opinions and focusing on results.  While failing teams personalize disagreements resulting in "swirl" and  "drama", high-performing teams respect and leverage their collective strengths, seek out evidence and remain objective and productive.

2. Strong teams prioritize what is best for the organization and then move forward.  Members of high-performing teams consistently put what is right for the organization ahead of their own egos and personal needs.  Once a group decision is made and agreed upon, members of great teams aim their talents and rally together to achieve the desired goal.

3. Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are in their work.  Gallup's evidence suggests that the most successful teams have members who are highly engaged in their professional lives AND are highly satisfied with their personal lives.  As hard as they work for the company, they bring the same level of intensity and energy to their home life.

4. Strong teams embrace diversity. Diversity goes well beyond team strengths.  Gallup research has found that the most engaged teams embrace diversity of age, race and gender.  Engaged teams look at each other through the lens of their natural strengths and not their physical characteristics.  This keeps them focused on the potential within each person.

5. Strong teams are magnets for talent. Top talent within every organization see high performing teams as the most energetic and exciting place to be.  These are teams where contributors can optimize their natural talents and make a real impact.  Look for the teams or departments with high engagement and low turnover.

When a leader takes the time to invest in the unique strengths of team members and intentionally finds ways to build better relationships among group members, it allows the entire team the opportunity to be more outward and think about applying their innate strengths to satisfy the needs of others.

I bring a contagious energy and enthusiasm to work every day (Positivity #4).  I approach projects with creativity and originality (Ideation #2).  I contribute a forward looking focus (Futuristic #3) and a willingness to to consider all possibilities (Strategic #1). You can count on me to work hard with intensity and stamina (Achiever #5).  


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