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Great Teams: Empowering Individuals First

written byNataliya Kesginon 01/03/2021

What makes for a great team? Why do some teams work so well together? What can be learned from those teams where the word work equals positive collaboration and meaningful engagement?

According to the Undercover Recruiter, there are 8 important elements that distinguish great teams from the rest. These are good communication, shared focus on goals and results, equal share of workload, ongoing support, diversity, solid organization, good leadership, and fun. It is hard to disagree that these traits sound like a great foundation for any team, within an organization or beyond. 

People want to work with people who are pulling their weight, are well organized, respectful, and add a healthy dose of humour to make the mundane tasks more fun together. Great leadership is also a must and is needed both in a hierarchical and matrix environment where team members can also lead in their respective areas. Without good leadership, even good teams can get sidetracked, lose focus or come against common issues that require good leadership to be effectively resolved. 

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Many organizational coaches work both with leaders and teams to create an environment where the aforementioned traits of great teams merge together into a coaching culture of that specific organization. And yet, a coaching process is unique in the way it helps this process to emerge. To create a feeling of true engagement, as opposed to an artificial or forced one, coaches get to know both leaders and teams from within. It means that in order to create a culture of good teamwork where people like each other and work well together, coaches work with individuals within a team first. Top companies in the world have been leveraging this coaching approach very successfully and with great results. Today, making coaching available to teams and leaders is recognized as an essential element of organizational success.

So what does it mean to empower individuals within a team? It means that the conflicts, hopes, fears, blocks, expectations, and motivation of each team player are dealt with on an individual level first. Coaching allows each person on a team to explore their inner states of functioning on a team in a way that is private, non-judgemental and focused on creating solutions and ways to resolve stumbling blocks. A lot can go into this coaching work and it can be effectively supplemented by exploring individual personalities, Enneagram types, and exploring each person’s bugger vision to name a few. In Solution-Focused coaching, there are a number of highly effective tools that can assist with this exploration both on individual and team levels.

Once the coaching work is done on an individual level, the team can start exploring their strong and weak areas in a way that would not be effective without the individual groundwork. A great team is composed of individuals, and it is not an abstract organism that functions by blurring the boundaries and differences between all of its parts. When people genuinely feel that their individual strengths and weaknesses are explored in a safe and empowerment-oriented environment, their desire to participate in team coaching will be markedly higher. At the end of the day, all people want to do more of what is good for them, and working on a team that’s not functioning well is not that. But many teams fall apart because individuals within teams are not equipped with skills and tools to explore their bigger vision, areas or fears, and sources of personal motivation. 

That’s why helping people within teams to develop coaching skills is paramount. A team composed of meaningfully empowered individuals will naturally utilize effective problem-solving skills both on an individual and team level. Without it, achieving the desired level of trust, appreciation, motivation, diversity, good leadership, common focus and a fair share of responsibilities will be that much harder. After all, as James Cash Penney said: “The best teamwork comes from individuals who are working independently toward one goal in unison.

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