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7 principles of highly effective teams

Communications leader and licensed practitioner of The Human Element, Carin Andersson, shares tips for building an exceptional and highly effective team.

4 min read

In today’s world, the expectations placed upon a leader are exceptionally high. We find ourselves navigating complex challenges, not the least of which is how to build (and retain) a highly effective team, all while remaining adaptable in the face of constant change.

These demands require a significant commitment from people leaders. I know because I’ve spent more than 15 years leading teams and navigating this difficult terrain. But I've gained invaluable insights into what truly makes a team thrive – and I hope to inspire others by sharing my expertise.

In writing this blog post, I draw on my 25 years of experience in communications and my training as a licensed practitioner of The Human Element methodology, a transformational program that aims to maximize the potential of individuals and teams.

Through my own experience as well as my training, I’ve distilled seven key principles that lie at the heart of building exceptional – and highly effective – teams. If you need a little inspiration, here's a concise guide to help you on this journey.

1. Diversity

While diversity has long been part of the conversation surrounding effective teams, embracing and genuinely working in a diverse manner is no simple task. As a leader, what does this mean for you? Does it imply that you must dedicate more time to listening to every team member before making decisions? Should you actively seek out new team members to enhance diversity?

2. Psychological safety

I would argue that it's not solely about diversity itself but also about fostering psychological safety. Diversity loses its significance if team members can't freely express their thoughts without hesitation. Can everyone on your team voice their opinions without fear of repercussions? If the answer is yes, that's fantastic. If not, it's time to begin building trust and accountability within your team. If you can't trust your team members, whom can you trust? Are you comfortable asking your colleagues for help, when necessary, even if it means working late occasionally?

3. Trust and accountability

Creating an environment where trust is the default mindset also implies that all team members share accountability, eliminating the blame game. It means recognizing that no single individual is solely responsible and that everyone contributes to the team's outcomes. Consider what this means for your team. Always ask yourself, "Could I have taken different actions to prevent this outcome?" Blaming one person is never the answer; the entire team bears responsibility.

4. Fostering collaboration

Once trust and accountability are established, you can cultivate collaboration. Examine how each team member can make their best contributions. When people work without the fear of punishment, the team's potential blossoms.

5. Active listening

As a leader, it's crucial to consistently create an atmosphere that embodies the above-mentioned principles. Additionally, practice active listening and ask questions such as, "What do you require from me?" or "How can I assist you?" Notice the emphasis on "how" rather than a simple, "Do you need help?" The word "how" empowers the team to articulate their needs openly and responsibly. Recognize that different individuals require different forms of support.

6. Emotional intelligence

Asking the right questions will help you develop your emotional intelligence. Ultimately, we are all human, with our unique strengths and weaknesses, and we all make mistakes; this is a fundamental aspect of being human. Encourage your team to learn from their mistakes, as this is where growth occurs.

7. Authenticity

Emotional intelligence also entails accepting people for who they are. Allowing your colleagues to bring their authentic selves to work is challenging but, above all, an invaluable asset. This brings us full circle: When you embrace people for who they are, they become comfortable expressing their diversity. Diversity means being able to speak your mind, feeling secure in being yourself, and excelling in your endeavors.

Collectively, these seven principles form the foundation of exceptional and highly effective teams. As you begin implementing them within your own teams, remember that every step forward is progress. Good luck, and may these principles guide you to unlock the full potential of your teams.

Additionally, stay tuned as we delve deeper into this important topic at Securitas. We'll be sharing more insights and strategies to foster thriving teams and cultivate exceptional leadership.

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