What Makes A Good Team?

A good team, whether in sports, business, or family, can be almost magical. What are the properties that make a team great?

When you have a group of people working together to achieve a common goal — in other words, a team — finding the right mix can be tricky.

One thing to consider is to select people with the right skill set. For example, an ideal baseball team would have a shortstop and a third baseman, rather than two third basemen or two shortstops.

Finding a good person to lead and/or motivate the team is very important. The leader sets the tone for the entire group, and needs to have the respect of the individual members.

Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’

One aspect that is often overlooked is you need to have the right project for the team to work on. A group that would be good at, say, writing a software program probably will not be so good at marketing or selling a product. Or, to use a sports example, a great basketball team won’t be very good playing hockey.

Can you think of instances in your life when you have been a part of a group that was really in sync and excelled? What were the factors that made your team successful, and can you reproduce them?

Related questions: How can we encourage collaboration? What role do sports play in our society? Solo or team? What makes a community?

1 thought on “What Makes A Good Team?”

  1. Let me stray from the context of the question, as most of the teams I assemble need to gain expertise in the issue areas I use them for. At my job, I almost always supervise a crew of public policy interns with members passionate about the topics they can work on but not the skills that immediately lead to excelling on the problems the teams were set up to solve.

    In my experience, group members need regular individual check-ins and just as frequent team meetings. The individual check-ins assist the individuals in talking through their project, receiving a private critique of how their project is moving forward and how I can help them, and coaching on how to present to the larger group and ask for help in that setting.

    When the crew meets as a whole, each member presents their issue, how they are advancing, and where they need help from the group. I expect team members to ask questions or offer advice in the team meeting and commit to individually offering support between those meetings. While this helps advance each team member’s project, it also builds camaraderie, trust, accountability, and team-building throughout the group’s work. As each team member is also working on a different aspect to advance the same goal, it spreads responsibility and a well-rounded conclusion to the group’s work.

    Finally, this model of team-building supervision leads to each member feeling like they’ve contributed through their assignment and the greater effort the group was set up to advance. This model makes them feel pride in the project and the team effort.

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