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The Olympics are a showcase for high-performing teams: How do you build    Team Leaders for the Future at work?

Dr Michael Reilly is a qualified Psychologist and Director at Change Corp. He has previously worked with NHS and public sector organisations on transformation projects such as digital patient pathways, managing change, online mental health services for patients and online education portals for GPs.
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SPORT is a popular—if not the most popular—analogy for teamwork in business. Much has been learned by drawing parallels between the two: the importance of well-defined roles, the relative benefits of specialist versus generalist, the need for a shared goal, and so on.

90% of investors think the quality of the management team is the single most important nonfinancial factor when evaluating an IPO. It’s why there is a 1.9 times increased likelihood of having above-average financial performance when the top team is working together toward a common vision. The Basketball legend Michael Jordan slam dunks the same point: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

The leadership role becomes increasingly demanding as more hybrid work becomes the norm, traditional company boundaries become more porous and partnerships more necessary.

Here are some ideas around team composition and team dynamics:

Team composition – is the starting point. The team needs to be kept small, but not too small, and it’s important that the structure of the organization doesn’t dictate the team’s membership. Research also suggests that the team’s effectiveness starts to diminish if there are more than ten people on it. Sub-teams start to form, encouraging divisive behavior. Bigger teams also undermine ownership of group decisions, as there isn’t time for everyone to be heard. Beyond team size, CEOs should consider what complementary skills and attitudes each team member brings to the table.

Team dynamics – Consider the 1992 roster of the US men’s Olympic basketball team, which had some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, among them Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Scottie Pippen. Merely bringing together these players didn’t guarantee success. During their first month of practice, indeed, the “Dream Team” lost to a group of college players by eight points in a scrimmage. “We didn’t know how to play with each other,” Scottie Pippen said after the defeat. They adjusted, and the rest is history. The team not only won the 1992 Olympic gold but also dominated the competition, scoring over 100 points in every game.

Change Corp believes that there are key requirements to constructing a high-performance team:

A supportive environment

A team in a cycling peloton relies on more than the athletes actually cycling. It includes others, such as mechanics and even the soigneurs, who are there to support the cyclists. The environment is the workplace where the team operates, the social and physical context of the work, and the ecosystem that the team is part of.

A compelling direction

The direction is the reason a team exists—its vision, mission, goals, or aspiration. It provides a purpose for the team members to rally around and shapes both the team’s strategy and tactics. A clear direction provides team members with an anchor for their commitment to the team.


Diversity within a team operates at a number of levels. The first and the most visible type of diversity is the different roles within a team, the specializations. A second, deeper level of diversity is the diversity of identity gives a team the ability to tap into different viewpoints and lived experiences—tacit knowledge that can greatly enhance effectiveness in working with the diverse set of stakeholders (both internal and external) that a team must typically deal with. There is also a third level of diversity: cognitive diversity. In business, cognitive diversity is often tied to the business area or discipline in which a person has the most experience.

Psychological safety

The heart of a good team. A team must have a culture of trust, cohesion, and psychological safety if it is to succeed. The absence of psychological safety can result in problems and conflict being hidden and going unreported, as team members don’t feel that they can speak up.  A climate where team members feel a sense of inclusion (engagement) creates conditions for high team performance by enabling individuals to speak their minds without fear of judgment or reprisal and, therefore, to effectively collaborate and encourage creativity.

Contact me for more information on our Team Leaders for the Future programme and how we can help you build high-performance teams.

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Change Corp is skilled in implementing intervention that focus on team development for a new future, and which can directly address the content and delivery of learning for team leaders. For more information on our Team Leaders for the future programme book a demo in the link below

Free Demo

We have also produced a FREE ‘Cultivating Compassionate Leadership’ development lesson. Follow the link below to download the video and manual

Compassionate Leadership manual and video

Contact us if you would like to discuss how Change Corp can support you in these challenging times.

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GP Strategies 2019

Fosway Group 2020