Secrets of a Breakthrough Team
In both my personal and professional life, I’ve been part of breakthrough teams. These weren’t teams defined by a charismatic leader or a superstar. Instead, each team shared a key set of characteristics that transformed us into an engaged and well-oiled machine.
One was a small but mighty team of bankers determined to achieve victory. One-tenth the size of the other teams, we managed to drive that year’s largest credit card sales. Another was a beleaguered Junior B hockey team without a home rink. Even without our own cheering crowds, we soared from underdog to league champions in one year. On a major retail department store team, we were under pressure and overworked but still converted nine dreary locations into attractive profit generators within months—and with passion to spare. And recently, our small Taste for Life team put together a sustainable model for an annual fundraising event, increasing results by 83% in four years.
What were the secrets to these successes? First, we shared a clear picture of where we were going and what we wanted to accomplish. Second, we knew we could count on each other to get there. Third, we were willing to take chances and be open and honest with each other. Finally, when faced with setbacks, such as an injured goalie, long hours or challenging logistics, we pushed through anyway, backing each other up along the way.
Want to create your own breakthrough? This TED video from Tom Wujec will stimulate your thinking.
Driving High Performance
Breakthrough teams don’t need to include a brilliant CEO or entrepreneur. Instead, high performance is driven by a particular combination of characteristics that keeps the group engaged and thriving. The authors of The Orange Revolution
studied 350,000 people and discovered six secrets to successful, high-performing teams and businesses.
High performance teams dream
big. They rally around a cause to transform a situation. The members passionately believe
the only outcome is success, and they know they can count on each other to get there. They accept risk
as a necessary part of winning. This willingness to take chances leads to victory. They also know they must measure
against their goal because in order to improve, the score matters. Great teams persevere
, working through hardships, mistakes and roadblocks, and helping each other if they fall along the way. And finally, great teams tell stories
. Compelling narratives make the possibility of winning believable.
If you take only one action today, look at Chapter 8 of The Orange Revolution
: 101 Ways to Bring Your Team Together. Every idea was supplied by a member of a breakthrough team or the leader of a larger organization with exceptional employee engagement.
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