“A snowflake on its own is a delicate thing but when they team up they can shut down a city,” so said Steve Maraboli and it’s a great way to think about the power of people working together.

Rugby players would probably take exception to being referred to as snowflakes but the evidence of incredible teamwork in virtually every game in the recent Rugby World Cup was fantastic, and judging by the size of them, shutting down a city wouldn’t be beyond their capabilities.

Tweet: Click to Tweet:

“A snowflake on its own is a delicate thing but when they team up they can shut down a city.”

When team members crystalise

In organisations when teams don’t function effectively, we very often find that the team members are unclear of their own and each other’s roles with the result that vital tasks ‘slip through the cracks’ and everyone (understandably) denies responsibility. Unless something is done, the negative effect of this is likely to permanently affect the team’s performance and they are unlikely ever to achieve their full potential.

In almost every game in the Rugby World Cup there was plenty of evidence of absolute clarity of role and there was also great trust and communication between players consistently ‘offloading’ the ball without looking, in the sure knowledge that their team mate was exactly where he needed to be to collect it and use it positively.

When the members are all in agreement about the team’s purpose; when each individual is clear about their own and each other’s responsibilities and they have developed trust through open and clear communication, the essential ingredients are in place for a great team performance. Add a dash of inspiring and authoritative leadership and the snowflakes have some serious competition.

What an effective team looks like

  • Everyone is clear about the team’s essential purpose – why it exists.
  • Each team member understands his or her own (and the other team members’) responsibilities and priorities.
  • The role of the team leader is clear.
  • There is an atmosphere of openness and trust.
  • The team appreciates and is able to deal with conflict and different points of view.
  • Communications are open, confronting and co-operative.
  • There is a willingness to forego personal goals in favour of group goals when needed.
  • The team have clear and agreed methods for problem solving and decision-making.
  • Team members are given the opportunity to adopt a flexible, responsive and creative approach to their work.
  • There is time and scope given for individual and collective development.
  • The team regularly reviews how it operates.

Need further team building inspiration? Watch this riveting TED Talk on teamwork…

Tom Wujec’s Build a Tower, Build a Team 

See Wujek present some of his powerful research behind the “marshmallow problem”. You read that correctly… it’s a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow.

Further reading and ideas:

  1. Effective Teamwork: Practical Lessons from Organizational Research (Psychology of Work and Organizations)
    by Michael A. West
  2. Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances
    by J. Richard Hackman
  3. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team
    by John C. Maxwell
  4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
    by Patrick M. Lencioni

If you would like to find out how our services can help your Leadership, Teams and Team Working, please contact our Senior Partner, Richard Thomson, on r.thomson@twassociates.co.uk or +44 (0)131 343 3055.

The information, conversation and interaction doesn’t end here. We are discussing these topics on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Join the conversation.