High-performance, highly effective teams do many things differently than the vast majority of others, including they way in which they interact and communicate with each other. They have learned how to avoid the headlong rush to premature conclusions and knee-jerk reactions. Instead, they hold themselves accountable for ensuring the thinking and dialogue process is rich with original insight and fresh perspective. The quality of the cultural environment within the organization really does matter, and senior leaders have the responsibility for shaping that environment. One good way to determine the health of the environment is to listen to the quality of the conversations, debates and dialogue taking place at all levels. Good leaders enable organizational dialogue and view it as a major component of ensuring they have a vibrant culture.
Author and academic John Kotter has significantly advanced our thinking around team effectiveness, and he has taken it to a new level when he talks about the fundamental difference between teamwork and team performance. He suggests we often settle for the former when we really want the latter. Kotter argues that, all models and theories aside, for leadership teams to perform effectively in the organizational context, they need to do some “real” work together as a team. In other words, they can only learn to perform and trust each other when they are faced with genuine work to do. Performance and trust are outcomes, not inputs, and they are only achieved through actual work.