Appreciating the heart of team
The high performing team (HPT) that is the holy grail for most organisations has a number of defining characteristics: shared purpose, vision and objectives for sure; high levels of trust; excellent communication within the team and with all its stakeholders; an ability to deal with conflict swiftly, well and for good.
Largely these characteristics are self-evident – clear and present when a team is flowing and performing to a high standard, and overt by omission when performance is poor and potential unfulfilled.
For me, though, there are two characteristics or qualities that are vital but are less often mentioned when what makes an HPT is under discussion. The first is heart, or ‘heartfullness’, the second is appreciation.
If each member of the team brings themselves wholeheartedly to the unit and its endeavours the group heart that forms is a powerful entity supporting a kind, loving, compassionate environment in which people can be themselves and give their best. It also supports more courageous action, experimentation, decision-making and conflict resolving. And, crucially, it nourishes trust.
As for appreciation…HPT theory identifies the need for complementary skills. One of the things that can make the blend of skills, talents, thinking, perspectives in a team become a truly successful blend is the equality of value placed on those attributes and the appreciation shown when they’re deployed well.
The responsibility for team performance does of course sit with every team member, with them showing up and giving their all. Though for leaders it’s ‘responsibility plus’ isn’t it? We must lead wholeheartedly and heartfully, and focus relentlessly on creating the conditions that allow others to do the same.