Growing up, it was always inspiring to watch a match where we would have ruled out the underdogs, and they end up winning in the nick of time. In 2002, it was the Natwest Series, where India ended up winning an abysmal run chase and came out victorious, or the FIFA 2006 penalty in the finals between France and Italy.
More recently in the 2023 World Athletic Championship, it was the Indian 4x400m men’s relay quartet‘s rousing run – it took them to the finals and set an Asian record in the process. Here is the video or Parul Chaudhary clinging a gold in the last 40mts of the 5000mts at the Asian Games 2023, Here is the video
"High performance teams can almost seem like a single human brain, performing various functions in perfect harmony.."
While it can seem obvious, it is very easy to overlook the fact that a team is made of individuals. And understanding their motivations can help us build better teams.
Organizations serve as a platform for individuals to collaborate towards shared goals, giving purpose to the participants. Through collective efforts and achievements, they can transform into highly effective “dream teams.”
Individuals like to emulate a few traits from people they admire. Take a moment and think of the person and the qualities/traits you would like to emulate?!
These traits, often, will be intrinsic in nature e.g.: patience, listening skills, demeanor, creativity, empathy, and many more.
We also like to have a few traits in team members to bring seamless outcomes. We generally want team members to have complementary skills.
High-performing teams: Complementary abilities create a balanced and effective workforce
Organizations bring people together to work on their larger goals and in turn provide meaning to the individuals working on those goals. These individuals come together, have a few successes and in turn become dream teams.
What makes a dream team?
Do successful teams come up with better outcomes because they like each other, or do they perform well together and thus they like each other?
According to psychologist Anita Woolley, it’s the latter.
This phenomenon is seen in many places, pick-up sports, or project teams. Teams are very complex adaptive systems. Understanding some of the dynamics in teams, can help us understand how high-performance teams work.
- Relationships are not linear. People might like each other outside of the work environment but may not want to work together. The reasons may vary from closeness with the other person to seniority, which may blur objectivity, etc. E.g: The doctor would never want to operate on their immediate kin members.
- From an outsider’s perspective, we only see the beginning and end in teamwork. However, there is a lot that happens in the middle of the project. People develop new skills, eliminate behaviors, and seek and gain respect from others. There are times when individuals have nothing in common except the goal at hand. They may not like each other at a personal level, but they respect the subject matter expertise they bring to the table.
Individuals grow by acquiring new skills, shedding old habits, and earning the respect of others.
Below are the traits that increase the chances of success.
- Keeping biases at bay (Gender Composition)
It has been observed when teams are equally distributed by gender, they bring in collective intelligence. Women engage higher and improve social perceptiveness. They are better at understanding subtle cues, pay attention to others’ needs, and can understand nonverbal reactions. E.g.: when someone is dominating, or silent, and how to improve collaboration from these behaviors.
When teams have a balanced gender distribution, they tend to exhibit higher levels of collective intelligence.
- They were paying attention to others’ needs. Most of us watched the 2023 IPL final, GT vs. CSK, both teams were playing at their optimal level. The match was interrupted due to rain, after which the overs were reduced, and finally, we had a champion post-midnight.
I had a few takeaways from that final, each member of the winning team was playing for one person. Who might not play in the next season, their captain? They all wanted to lift the trophy in the presence of their captain one last time. Their captain on the other hand ensured his team members put their best foot forward.
- They were aware of what others bring to the table. This gets manifested when team members give way to others in showcasing their talent. Trust in another person’s work eliminates micromanagement.
"Lastly, winning teams are the result of doing the simple things with relentless consistency."
- Winning teams bring psychological safety and an equal playing field. Having said this, they do have differences of opinions for the cause at hand and not towards any person in the team. Going back to my previous example of the IPL winning team. During the post-match interview, the captain shared a few thoughts for working with his team, and some of them are:
- Focus on small things, enjoy the process, result is the outcome of the former
- Providing the team member, the right environment to experiment
- We all are human and have weak moments, for this same reason we have teams to ensure we lift each other and take off some extra load from people in need
- Empathize and encourage
Analytics, consulting, and market research
Aditi Pandya boasts nearly two decades of industry expertise spanning large corporations, mid-sized enterprises, and startups, focusing on analytics, consulting, and market research. She has played a pivotal role in propelling early-stage ventures and scaling them from ground zero to over a thousand employees. Aditi collaborates closely with leadership teams to enhance team efficacy by understanding motivational factors, assessing competencies, and nurturing a thriving corporate culture. Her guiding principle revolves around fostering a joyful and nurturing workplace ambiance.
Beyond this, Aditi dedicates her efforts to crafting communities, products, and Go-to-Market strategies. She co-founded Geeksonfeet, a vibrant running community, and hosts the podcast “The World of Running”. In her leisure, she maintains her status as a lifelong athlete, dedicating time to train for marathons.