Team Effectiveness May Start With You

I’ve been writing lately about finding leadership identity, and how knowing ourselves better can improve our lives. But there’s another reason to cultivate self-knowledge and leadership identity: the better we know ourselves, the more effective we are in a team. 

In a new article in the Harvard Business Review, To Improve Your Team, First Work on Yourself, Jennifer Porter, who is managing partner of a leadership and team development firm, writes that her group is regularly called upon to fix what the clients often call “dysfunctional” teams. When she and her colleagues drill down more deeply into the cause of all this “dysfunction,” they often uncover a lot of finger-pointing, and a tendency for team members to pick out certain individuals as the ineffective ones, and the ones to blame for all of the group’s problems. 

“As experienced team development practitioners,” writes Porter, “we know that these are not accurate or helpful assessments of the situation.”

What does Porter find effective for improving teams? Hint: it starts by looking at yourself. Here’s what she writes: 

“Teams are complex systems of individuals with different preferences, skills, experiences, perspectives, and habits. The odds of improving that complex system in a meaningful and sustainable way are higher if every team member — including the leader — learns to master these three foundational capabilities: internal self-awareness, external self-awareness, and personal accountability.”

These are capabilities that I also write and talk a lot about in my work as a leadership coach. Porter’s article offers a great primer to understand more about these three foundational capabilities, and to gather strategies for becoming better at each one. I’d love to hear what readers think.


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