There is no “I” in team

06 December 2016
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History was made this month as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year. Furthermore, and perhaps more impressive for any Formula 1 enthusiast, he matched Alberto Ascari’s 60 year record of nine consecutive Formula 1 victories.

A team’s effort

In a sport that often focuses solely on the drivers, which also includes some rather large egos, it was refreshing to hear one of the first statements from Vettel was to dedicate his record breaking effort to his team. It appeared to be genuine appreciation that he could not have achieved this without the backing of Red Bull’s committed and tireless team. In reality, Sebastian Vettel was just a member of a very successful team and his achievements this year were shared by everyone behind the scenes. This situation is no different in the business world. High-performing companies click because of high-functioning teams.

Great teams merge individual talents and skills into one superperforming whole with capabilities that surpass those of even its most talented member. However, many teams struggle to get the right dynamic. Members don’t work together, people disengage, information doesn’t get passed on and time and money are wasted.

What makes a top team?

Research shows that high-performing teams are not created by accident. They have superior levels of participation, there is cooperation, team members trust one another, and individuals identify with and have confidence in the group. Experts recognise these characteristics to be the group’s emotional intelligence. Interestingly, a study at medical giant, Johnson & Johnson, resulted in group emotional intelligence being the best predictor of team success.

However, building an emotionally intelligent team also needs a level of emotional appreciation from the group as a whole. Like many social groups, a team is managed by a shared set of attitudes and behavioural norms which are understood within the group, even though they may be unspoken. According to a study in America, teams that enjoy high levels of group emotional intelligence have a set of criteria that strengthen trust, group identity and group effectiveness. This in turn leads members to cooperate more fully with one another and come together more to further the team’s work.

It is recognised that if you can create an environment of trust and the feeling of “we are better as a team than individuals”, it will lead to greater effectiveness.

 

How to improve a team’s emotional intelligence

Unfortunately, there is not a simple step by step guide that is guaranteed to improve every team’s emotional intelligence. However, there are three actions that experts recognise will go a long way in helping achieve a high level of emotional intelligence.


1. Appreciate each other’s skills

Understanding between individuals is vital to growing trust; this will lead to sharing of ideas and information. Everyone in the group needs to be aware of each member’s skills and personality. When it comes to setting team goals it will be easier to develop a shared vision of success. This can be achieved through building in socialising time into team meetings.


2. Manage emotional issues

It is vital that team members have an approved process for expressing anger, tension and frustration. If a team member crosses the line of appropriate behaviour, the team must feel comfortable they can raise the breach and their concerns will be dealt with fairly.


3. Celebrate success

Increasing the emotional intelligence of a team also requires sharing the positive emotions. Recognising the group or an individual’s achievements not only enhances a team’s identity, it highlights its effectiveness and fuels a passion for excellence. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; simply clapping for someone’s achievements in a meeting can help build identity and productiveness.

 

Navigating the future

Emotional intelligence is growing more important as businesses become increasingly global. Collaboration is vital as offices work together across various locations. Success nowadays isn’t necessarily down to an aggressive business drive or a leader’s single-mindedness, it is increasingly down to allowing people to work together and work well together.

Posted on: 06/12/16