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I’ve had the honor and privilege to be around great teams at all levels. Having access to teams has opened my eyes to healthy and unhealthy team cultures. A team culture is paramount to the success of a team. Great coaching leaders are able to lean in and lead a healthy culture. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player to play the game, achieved incredible individual success. However the most important thing to him was team success. He once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

In order to understand how to lead a healthy team culture, we have to first see our team for where they are now. Our first part on teams will look at five distinct qualities of ineffective teams.

1. They have a muddy vision.

Teams with no outlined vision are likely headed toward disaster or at the very least are not nearly as likely to reach their fullest potential. Vision must be clear to all team members, but first it must start with a compelling “why.” Thomas Edison said; “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Ineffective teams never truly understand their “why” so they drift from their purpose and effectiveness.

2. They avoid accountability.

It could be argued, that in today’s society, accountability gets a bad wrap. Many times accountability is associated with something negative; however it is just the opposite. Mike Krzyzewski attributes much of the USA Basketball Olympic success to the team holding one another accountable to standards or “collective identity.” It’s accountability that holds the team together. Ineffective teams are not accountable to one another, they don’t take the time to understand one another or help one another toward the desired goal.

3. They refuse responsibility.

I heard years ago, from a speaker, that understanding individual responsibility is key to a healthy organization. Ineffective teams are full of members who “pass the buck” on responsibility. It’s important to always remember that your irresponsibility becomes someone else’s responsibility. Winston Churchill said; “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

4.They are scared of conflict.

Avoiding responsibility is usually rooted in the desire to avoid conflict. Ineffective teams are usually teams that avoid any type of conflict. They see conflict much the same way they view accountability, as being negative. However, just like accountability, dealing with conflict is extremely important for the health of an organization. We have to change the way we view conflict. Stephen Covey is quoted as saying, “To solve our most difficult problems we must change our thinking.” Avoiding anything is never healthy. It’s like the patient who visits the doctor to heave tests run, but never takes the call to learn the results because they don’t want to deal with the responsibility.

5. They don’t trust. 

This is the biggest roadblock to teams becoming effective. The lack of trust within a team leads to or many times is a result of the above 4 issues. If a team can’t trust, they can’t move forward. Ernest Hemingway said; “The best way to find out if you can trust someone, is to trust them.” Lack of trust becomes the weighted jacket that keeps teams from gaining momentum, power and productivity.

You may serve on or lead a team that is ineffective in one or more of these areas. The first step in overcoming is to determine how did you get here. Fear not, in the second edition of our blog on teams we will layout what an effective team should look like.

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