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5 Characteristics of Effective Teams

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5 Characteristics of Effective Teams

Imagine, it’s a random Tuesday morning and you and your team are on a plane headed to…

Don’t get too comfortable imagining a conference center, hotel with a lounge, or a boardroom. Instead, picture a deserted island, a la the TV show, Survivor. Before a Jeff Probst lookalike has the opportunity to welcome you to the island, you, as the leader of your team need to make a plan. To get everyone through to the last tribal council and get the sweet satisfaction of a job well done, you need a plan. Sure, real life isn’t a TV show, but the idea of effective teamwork is.

So, before we leave the island behind, let’s investigate the 5 characteristics of effective teams.

  1. A Common Goal

    All effective teams share a common goal. Whether it’s to win challenges, land deals, improve production, fix problems faster, or integrate new systems, having a common goal is the cornerstone to an effective team. If everyone is too busy focusing on their own goals, it becomes difficult to collaborate and find the best avenues for success for the overall whole of an organization. A clear objective understood by all motivates the team and offers up the ability for trait number 2.
  2. Good Communication

    Good communication seems simple, and it is, but so many people get bogged down between open communication and good communication. Open communication is important, sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns, and emotional reactions, but good communication is having constructive open communication. Sure, you may feel bad if your idea gets shot down but wallowing in it and complaining isn’t good communication. Moving on and getting back into the conversation to help ferret out other ideas, concerns, and create a plan is good communication in an environment full of trust and listening.
  3. Team Roles

    Think about any Survivor episode or sporting event you’ve ever seen. In any well performing team, each member either subconsciously or consciously shifts themselves into one of the following three roles: leaders, strategists, or workers. Depending on the situation, these roles shift and change to ensure the best people for each role are at the helm. This division of responsibility also allows for each member to perform at their best and highlight the strengths they bring to the team. As a leader it is important to recognize and celebrate what each member brings to their role and how it helps advance them toward the common goal.
  4. Time Management

    Effective teams use time wisely. Whether on the deserted island or on a football field, time is of the essence. Prioritizing tasks and working through them are done efficiently with concise discussion and swift decision making at the forefront. As the time ticks away during a challenge, teams left squabbling find themselves at a greater risk of failure (or a tribal council). ​​​​​​​
  5. Practical Problem Solving

    Along the road to any common goal, there will be potholes and obstacles to avoid and overcome, as it would be on the deserted island, it’s true in the workplace as well. The difference in effective teams is that once the problem is correctly identified, it is remedied or overcome just as swiftly. Taking a practical approach to not only identifying the problem, but also to solving it as a team will go a long way towards successfully accomplishing your common goal.​​​​​​​

An effective team approach will always end with success. Even when failure does occur (because it will), you’ll be prepared to pick yourselves up, dust each other off, and find a solution to keep moving forward. 

As Bill Bradley said, “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts on one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger.”

If you can help instill these five characteristics into the everyday for your team, you can ensure you won’t find yourselves at the dreaded tribal council hearing the echoing voice of Jeff Probst, “The tribe has spoken.”


If you want to learn how to build a more effective team in your workplace, contact us today. Our business is creating the leaders of today. Great leaders grow great businesses and we are experts in creating great leaders.

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