How well are your teams working together? Here are seven signs leaders look for

Home / blog / How well are your teams working together? Here are seven signs leaders look for

Last week I shared the seven essentials business owners use to build high performance in their teams after having spent two days with a group of successful business owners. As discussions progressed I asked these leaders for the seven signs they look for across their organisation that tells them real teamwork is present.

To begin with we explored what a team is. There were varying views and descriptions, however they finally settled on Jon Katzenbach’s definition that first appeared in his book Wisdom of Teams. He defines team as ‘A small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.’    

So while we had settled on a definition of team, we were still no closer to what the key signposts are that tell them teams are working well together. After more discussion here is what they agreed they looked for:

  • Why: First and foremost each and every team member knew ‘why’ they were undertaking the task, and every team member had signed on to a set of clear and unifying team goals.
  • Trust: Trust is given, not something that has to be earned. Their view is earning trust takes too long and slows things down. They encourage trust to be given until there is evidence of trust diminishing; it is at this point they expect leaders to take immediate action to resolve the situation.
  • Collaboration: How well team members collaborate. These leaders made the point based on their experience that it is only with collaboration that breakthrough results are achieved that have a direct impact on the bottom-line. The obvious question is ‘how is collaboration different to co-operation?’ They acknowledged that while co-operation in teams is valuable; co-operation has more to with solving problems faster and extracting efficiencies.
  • Commitment: To these leaders commitment means staying on task until it is completed – no matter what. They said they were always on the lookout for the four destroyers of teamwork
    • Lone Stars (go away leave it to me),
    • Butterflies (I’ll do the pieces I like)
    • Fence-sitters (I’ll see how it goes before I commit),
    • Side-Steppers (strong verbal support, fall short on action and delivery)
  • Cause and Effect: Cause and effect thinking is a way of being. Team members consider the organisational ‘big picture’. If an action is initiated, what will happen and what will the effect be at an individual, group and organisational level.
  • Debate: Debate and discussions within teams and with other teams are robust in order to arrive at the best options/solutions.
  • Care: Care, for the quality and completion of the task, is just as important as the care and support for each other as team members.

I’m sure at this point you have probably come up with other factors that you regard as important in the teams you lead. This is great because it means we have achieved one of our goals from our discussion with these business leaders which is to have other leaders think more deeply about the value and importance of teamwork. Please feel free to join the discussion and comment on the factors that are signposts that show you teams are working effectively.


Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.