Team Talk picture

Team Talk
by Jim Riela

For the entirety of my career in event management, I have been part of a team. Being in the thick of projects with a strong, diverse, dedicated team has brought me more joy and satisfaction than any personal moments of recognition.

The “it factor” in high performing teams

What is it that makes for a strong team? Research conducted by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory provided insight and identified one of the key attributes of successful teams.

It’s about how we talk, not just what we know

The MIT study found that “the best way to build a great team is not to select individuals for their smarts or accomplishments, but to learn how they communicate, and to shape and guide the team so that it follows successful communication patterns.”

Five key attributes of teams that nail communication and elevate collaboration:

  • Everyone on the team talks and listens in roughly equal measure.
  • Members face one another, and their conversations are energetic.
  • Members connect directly with one another — not just with the team leader.
  • Members regularly have side conversations outside of team meetings.
  • Members connect outside, and bring information back to the team.

I would add that teams with diverse backgrounds bring more points of view to the table, which provides the team with a deeper understanding and lowers operational risk.

Don’t follow the leader

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory.” – Nelson Mandela

The best teams have leaders that lead from behind. Once you have established direction, clear goals, and roles, leaders must let the team charge ahead. Leaders come to the front to clear the path of obstacles and guide and coach from the sidelines.