teamHow do you know whether you have a team or just a group of individuals?

Ask each of them to identify their overarching goal.

A true team lives and breathes by their goal. A group of individuals won’t be clear at all about their goal.

In the many teams that I’ve worked with, one consistent theme is they think:

  1.  they are a good team,
  2. they know each other and
  3. they don’t need to make any deeper connections on a personal level.

Yet, if I ask them to identify the overarching goal that is driving all of them to success, there is no consistent response. This is not a team, this is a group of individuals who are grouped together because of some common organization.


The first dysfunction of a team (taken from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni) is absence of trust. What does this have to do with knowing one another, forming deeper connections and having a common goal? Everything. Yes, you may know that Luis has three kids, holds a PhD in physics and drives a Toyota Prius, but do you know why he never says no to anyone, does all the critical grunt work that no one else wants to do, takes on more than he can possibly do and fails to follow through on 50% of his commitments at work? If Luis is on your team, what would you want to know?

Good, high functioning teams are full of members who trust each other, can be vulnerable to one another, and learn to recognize and properly utilize or compliment the strengths and weaknesses of one another.

So the next time you find yourself as a member of, or forming or leading a new team, consider how you might build trust.

Build Trust By:

Admitting strengths and weaknesses to each other.
Committing to asking for help and providing constructive feedback.
Committing to offering help outside areas of responsibility.
Clarifying intentions and aptitudes of others before jumping to conclusions.
Recognizing and tapping into one another’s skills and experiences.
Manage behaviors for the good of the team.
Committing to letting go of the past.
Spend time together outside of typical meetings.

You won’t build trust overnight. Think about how long it took you to build trust with your spouse, partner or a close friend. But when you have trust within a team, your performance can be highly accelerated