My last post reported on fascinating research from the world of honey bees providing profound and practical insights on building highly effective teams. Team effectiveness depends heavily on the team leadership skills of the person heading up the team. Here’s a look at recent and emerging research on team leadership for stronger team building.

“Great teamwork is an outcome; you can only create the conditions for it to flourish. Like getting rich or falling in love, you cannot simply will it to happen.”
– Jerry Useem, “What’s that spell? TEAMWORK!” Fortune

1. “Great teams always have a noble cause.
2. Effective teams drive engagement.
3. Their performance is driven by team, not company, loyalty.
4. Great teams simplify.”

– Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, “Four Essential Qualities of Great Teams,” based on the results of a 350,000 person study that measured the characteristics of extremely productive teams.

“Group members with leaders in a positive mood have a more positive mood overall than do group members with leaders in a negative mood. Similarly, a negative mood spreads to the group…Groups with leaders in a positive mood, however, exhibit more co-ordination than groups with leaders in a negative mood.”
– Research conclusions from Stéphane Côté of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and two colleagues from American universities

“To unlock a team’s abilities, a manager must spend a significant amount of time on two activities: Helping the team understand the company’s direction and its implications for team members and coaching for performance…. at some companies, district managers devoted as little as 10 minutes a day to coaching. At the best companies, frontline managers allocated 60 to 70 per cent of time to their staff, much in high-quality individual coaching. The companies also empower managers to make decisions and act on opportunities.”
– McKinsey consultants Aaron De Smet, Monica McGurk and Marc Vinson report in the McKinsey Quarterly

Dream big – Bold, extreme dreams capture the imagination. When people believe they are involved in something big, they’ll sacrifice to make it happen.
Think yin and yang – In forming teams, find people with a variety of strengths that complement each other.
Keep it light – Be a guide and adviser, rather than a rule enforcer. Fear squelches communication and suffocates creativity.
Give everyone glory – Recognize achievements of star performers, but also acknowledge and reward the supporting players. Everyone has a role in making the team a success.”

– Pat Williams, co-founder and senior vice-president of NBA Orlando Magic, from his book Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams

“New research suggests that CEOs have a rosier view of senior management’s performance than other top team members do… (a simple and reliable test of executive teamwork) is for CEOs to ask themselves the following three questions. Those who answer no to any of them probably perceive team performance as better than other team members do — and, by extension, better than it actually is.
1. Does my team make decisions in meetings?
2. If we do make decisions in meetings, are they implemented shortly thereafter?
3. Do meetings allow for lively conflict?”

– Richard M. Rosen and Fred Adair, “CEOs Misperceive Top Teams’ Performance,” Harvard Business Review