Last week I had the privilege of doing a presentation to the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Academy. It was an after-work gathering where alumni of the program could come together with the current cohort. I was invited to talk to the group on how to develop high performing teams partly because of my experience as a leadership consultant and coach, but mainly because of my experience in coaching the USA Women’s Rugby team. I recently stepped down as Head Coach after 7 years in that role and leading the team to the World Cup Semi-Finals last year in Ireland (here is a link to a great highlight video).
It was a great discussion with a bright group of engaged female business leaders. I presented a team development model that I have used both with clients and with the USA Eagles. The model has 4 parts and for a team to be high performing and all parts need to be functioning well.
Most team leaders focus primarily on the task and miss the other areas. When I work with teams that are struggling I start with alignment. I ask questions like “what do you do and why is it important” to identify the extent of the alignment. If the alignment is right, then the other areas of the model are more easily managed.
Communication is both the process of how the team will communicate with each other (meeting schedule, use of tools etc) as well as how they will work on disagreements. The relationship is a foundation of any high performing team. Having a strong relationship with team members enables understanding and trust which enables the team to deal with issues an decisions more effectively. While many teams talk about the task they have to do, they miss other pieces of the task, including are the right people, with the right skills and experiences, doing the right parts of the task.
With the Women’s Academy we had some fun team activities that help the attendees build understanding of the importance of the team model in team performance. Many of the questions at the end were focused on how to actually drive change in teams that are already formed. Of course that is the art in driving team performance!
The model allows a leader to assess their team’s performance in each area and then analyze how to move the team to a higher level of performance. You can check out the presentation I did here Women’s Academy Team Performance.