Teams fall apart. They are destroyed or sabotaged, even.  As a leader, you know the hardest part about teamwork is nurturing and strengthening teams — and ultimately avoiding those team destroyers.

Once a team is launched and operating, you may assume the work is done.  But teams fall apart for some basic reasons:

  • Lack of clear vision or goal
  • Too many “yes-people” on the team
  • Leaders reject the input from the team
  • Leaders want to do everything
  • Hidden agendas
  • Apathy
  • Communication failures
  • Inability to learn from mistakes and successes

These reasons and more can contribute to teams being ineffective at best or destructive at worst.  Team leaders, not just the team itself, can destroy a team, especially if you…

Fall off the authority balance beam

Find the appropriate authority balance between you and your team members. Avoid giving away too much authority or hoarding it altogether. Swinging back and forth from giving and taking away authority can set up you and your team for demise.

Call people a team but treat them like individuals

If you call them a team but treat them like a group of individual performers with their own specific jobs to do, then you are sending mixed signals and creating confusion. Instead, establish the team’s boundaries, define the tasks as one for which members are collectively responsible and accountable, and give members the authority to manage both the team’s internal processes and its relations with external entities such as clients and co-workers.

Assume that members are competent in a team setting

Just as micro-managing can cause damage, a hands-off style can limit a team’s effectiveness, particularly when members are not already skilled and experienced in teamwork.  Do not assume that because they are part of a team due to their experience or technical expertise that they will have the skills to work in a team environment.   Be sure to provide some initial team training.

Ever felt responsible for the demise of a team as its leader?  How did that experience help you lead future teams, or at least avoid those team destroyers?  

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