Communication: The “Secret Sauce” of Great Teams

Today, businesses large and small rely heavily on the power of their teams for success. As a leader, you know that autocratic, top-down approaches to getting things done just don’t work—at least not for long. As Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Communications is the key factor driving team performance. Everyday, our executive coaching and leadership training practice works with executives and team environments in technology, finance, marketing and sales, and human resources. We are convinced that communications is the “secret sauce” of effective, accomplished leadership and team building.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “The New Science of Building Great Teams,” author Alex Pentland’s research “found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success. Not only that, but they are as significant as all the other factors—individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions—combined.”

Set the Tone

As a leader, great communication does not mean endless meetings. It means setting the tone of the team and modeling positive communication patterns. Be sincerely open to suggestions and concerns. Ask questions and offer help. Encourage team interaction and group problem-solving. Do everything possible to avoid confusion in your own communication.

Relationships Matter

The relationships that team members create among themselves are as important as those you establish with them. Consistently promote behaviors that strengthen cooperation, trust, and respect among team members.

Get Your Buzz Going

When describing high performance teams, Pentland noted, “We could sense a buzz in a team even if we didn’t understand what the members were talking about.” Generate your own buzz and encourage patterns of positive, performance-building communication by developing these team characteristics:

  • Create a team environment where everyone on the team listens more than they speak. Remember the maxim, “you have two ears and one mouth; use them in proportion.”
  • Team members should keep contributions short and sweet—no soapbox sermonizing allowed!
  • When meeting, team members should face one another. Eye contact and body language are just as important as what is being said. Foster energetic conversations.
  • It’s critical that team members connect with each other, not just with their team leader. The team leader should not be the sole focal point of interaction.
  • Let team members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring new and additional information back.

Develop the communications elements of your team experience and watch team performance soar!

To learn more about effective communications, executive coaching, and leadership training, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.