What is the most important characteristic of effective teamwork?
By James Clark PhD, Director of Student Sidelines LLC ©2019
I would say that among the most important characteristics of effective teamwork is some important level of “choosing” by every member of the team. We tend to forget that people choose to be on teams or not, even if they are at the lowest pay grade and with the least significant role in the group. When discussing this factor, we tend to assume that if ANY “choosing” is allowed, the result will be chaos or over involvement in final decision-making. Neither is accurate.
Choosing by teammates is simply the process of including members, in some appropriate and genuine way, in the operations of the team. For example, a good coach will at some point interview every member of the team, including the manager and score keeper. By doing that, the coach is acknowledging that every person is there because they provide some importance to team functioning. It doesn’t imply that each member has an equal vote in decisions - nor any vote in crucial decisions. But they can still have an opportunity to express preferences, identify priorities, specify most important processes, etc.
Smart and effective leaders recognize and embrace this.