27 JULY, 2021


As part of the Boston Celtics, Bill Russell won 11 NBA Championships – the highest number held by any player to date. These on-court stats were impressive enough to have him hailed as one of the greatest players of all time. In his 13-year career, fans attributed the success to his talent, but Bill put it down to his philosophy of team play.

“The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.” Bill Russell, NBA Champion.

Imagine if this were the philosophy of every member of your team. Imagine if your star players also focused on elevating their teammates’ performance. Can you imagine the difference this would make to your company’s culture, employee experience and overall workplace performance?

Today, as we grapple with the hybrid work environment – building and fostering a sense of team is more critical than ever. Whether you’re running a sports team, national business or Government Department – leaders need to focus on and, cultivate an environment that enables teams to excel.

7 self-challenges to build your business through team

1. Shared Vision and Business Alignment

Challenge yourself. Does your team share a deep sense of purpose? Do they understand and are they committed to the organisation’s ‘why’ as well as their own? A shared vision lays the foundation for high-performance. High-performing individuals are driven by the desire to accomplish something. Ensuring that each team member is connected to and working towards the same vision will mean their energy is being funnelled in the same direction as one unit.

Action. Ask your team members to share their definition of what success looks like and what they believe the team priorities are for achieving this. A team that shares an aligned vision will articulate succinct and similar answers. If they do not, this is an opportunity for management to take action.

2. Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Challenge yourself. Do each of your team members have clarity around the business direction and destination as well as their role in getting there? Team cohesion relies on each team member knowing what they are responsible for and how their role fits into the bigger picture. While this may seem obvious, it is important to note because without clarity and agreement over ownership, progress will stagnate, and accountability will waver. When team members understand how their role specifically contributes to the organisational vision, they are more engaged, productive and inspired to innovate.

Action. Create a shared document outlining roles and responsibilities, accessible to all on the team.

3. An Environment of Accountability

Challenge yourself. Members of high-performance teams demonstrate follow-through, proactive problem solving and ownership. They share a strong sense of accountability not just for their individual part but for the success of the entire project. This means they’ll pick up the slack if they notice a teammate falling behind, and they’ll do so graciously. Do you lead by example? In an environment of accountability, each person takes ownership for their own role and at the same time operates for the greater good of the team. This builds trust and camaraderie and enables business results to be met with more efficiency and effectiveness.

Action. Develop frameworks that align these values with actions. Leaders can consider adding a KPI around team members’ contribution to elevating the team.

4. Communication and Collaboration

Challenge Yourself. Is there a culture of open and honest communication?

High-performance teams exhibit a culture of open, frequent and timely communication, a respect for diversity, a willingness to embrace conflict and an ability to adapt. Understanding what teamwork is in the workplace is crucial in creating an environment where each team member can contribute their unique skills, and perform effectively and collaboratively towards a common goal.

Action. To optimise communication within the team, particularly within a remote environment, leaders must focus on investing in the right tools and technology, establishing very clear communication processes, onboarding the team to effectively use the tools and processes and coaching team members in communication skills.

5. Trust

Challenge Yourself. Do your team members feel safe to fail or do they operate in fear of being reprimanded for mistakes? Is there a stronger sense of camaraderie or competition within the team?

Trust is the glue of a high-performing team. If the glue unsticks, the team begins to fall apart. At google, they call it psychological safety

“The belief that you won’t be punished for making a mistake” – Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google.

This sort of mindset creates the space for individuals to fail fast and learn fast, as well as to take risks and innovate – which is essential for high-performance. Team success is also built on everyone involved having a strong sense of being in it together, in addition to trusting each other to deliver on the technical and operational requirements of their roles.

Action. A culture of trust is driven from the top. Promote collaboration over competition.

6. Adaptable Mindsets

Challenge yourself. Agile organisations require agile individuals. High performance teams are made up of individuals who approach challenges as opportunities, pivot quickly and bounce back from setbacks more easily. They also have a higher tolerance for change and uncertainty which future-proofs the organisation and enables the team to continue delivering excellent results even in the face of uncertainty.

Action. Ensure you have a balanced and integrated approach to learning and development to help foster growth into their workflow.

7. Celebration

Challenge yourself. The power and importance of deliberate celebration should not be understated. High-performance teams move quickly, and celebration helps to keep team spirit and morale high. A lack of intentional acknowledgement of wins can have a negative psychological effect on our dopamine-driven brains, which in turn can affect performance. Celebration is also a form of reflection and enables teams to identify what went well and what they should do more of. Additionally, high performance teams also celebrate “fast-fails” and pivots, as this is a core part of continual improvement.

Action. Plan ways to build celebration into the team. Celebrate the team and individual performance.


This article was written by the Learning & Development specialists at DeakinCo. To understand how you can grow your business with your team, Talk to us today.

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