Leadership Insights, Team Building

Creating a Highly Cooperative Team

April 24, 2017 | Rick VanDermyden

How well is your team working together?

As we look at building highly collaborative teams, there are some really important things to look at as we do that. I love this phrase, it helps me every time I start thinking about or talking about, or bringing together a collaborative team. I think about this definition from John Maxwell; he says that cooperation is working together agreeably. Collaboration is working together aggressively.

Now I’m in California, and we’ve got the Golden State Warriors just 90 miles away, and when I think about a high performance team that’s highly collaborative, they are one that comes to mind. Because I’m 90 miles away, you may have placed the geography and you may not have, but that puts me in Sacramento Kings territory, and we’re not exactly a highly collaborative team.

So, in this example of being highly collaborative and working together aggressively, how aggressively is the team willing to put aside their personal agendas for the championship? How aggressively are we able to hold each other accountable about what matters for us collectively.

Patrick Lencioni and his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team helps define a team. A team is a relatively small group of people working towards a common goal. They have rewards and activities that are in common, and accomplishments that are in common.

So the first thing to do is figure out:

  • Do we have a team? Is this a team?
  • Are we working towards a common goal?
  • Do we all get rewarded?
  • Do we all have responsibilities in this?

That’s the first thing, and if we don’t answer yes to these questions that’s okay, we just may not be a team, so we don’t need to worry about collaboration yet.

When we decide we are a team and we’re clear on that, how do we come together and work together aggressively, collaboratively, which is that aggressive thought process. I think that the communication piece has to be so clear. That we’re willing to say what needs to be said in the moment to get closer to our goal.

We need to make sure that we’re seeing each other through each other’s strengths and calling out that I need you in that position because everything you do in that position that is so good. The next thing we need to know is what’s the score? Where are we on the game that we’re playing in? What’s the score of the current game?

So often teams don’t have a clear picture of the scoreboard. We work with teams all over the world, and that conversation always comes up. What’s the score, and do our people know how what they do matters in affecting that score.

To build the collaborative team, make sure that you actually have a team, that you’re clear on that. Have this conversation about here’s what collaboration means, we’re working together aggressively. And then let each other know how what each of them does contributes to the success that we’re all going after. Here’s to you, and you building better and higher quality collaborative teams in the future.

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