Teamwork is my favourite subject. I find the management of teams fascinating, precisely because there is no single, simple recipe for a team’s success. A collection of brilliant people does not automatically make a successful team. A top team requires more than just the top people. An excellent management team is able to apply focus in an organisation in such a way that goals can be achieved while work remains enjoyable. It can be tempting for the leader to select people with whom he/she gets on well. However, what’s the value of a team of purely like-minded individuals? A good management team is not made up of the leader’s clones, but is a group that displays diverse qualities and thus different characters. This brings a degree of tension with it, and it’s just this tension that can drive a team to extraordinary performances. That is, if the polar opposites both learn to value and dare to trust each other. An important step in team development is to discover what drives each team member at the deepest level, and what each individual has to offer and can receive from others.
It is also important to break through any dysfunctional patterns in which the team may have become stuck. For example, take the hunter-hare pattern, in which a results-driven leader calls upon people to be accountable for their results with increasing fanaticism, putting them under more and more pressure. Another is the promotion-prevention pattern, between the enthusiastic entrepreneur who sees opportunities and wants to grow, while his/her controller recognises the risks and wants to manage them. The art of working in a team is to build on everyone’s qualities, and in doing so, not to avoid the conflicts but to engage in and resolve them properly. Most of the time, it’s about productive polarities: ideas or styles that seem to compete with each other but actually need each other in order to get further. Breathing in and out are difficult to do simultaneously, but both are necessary for life.