The Power of Teamship: Secrets to Building High-Performing Teams

In today’s fast-paced business world, the power of teamship and teamwork cannot be overstated. High-performing teams are the backbone of successful organisations, driving productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Can you think of a time when you worked in a team to successfully achieve a target? How did it feel to band together in this way? Maybe you felt a sense of camaraderie or connectedness, or your teammates simply helped take some of the pressure off. Regardless of where you work, teamship is an essential element of any high-performing team.

The Essence of Team Support

In our recent study, “The Secret DNA of High-Performing Teams”, moments of team support were identified as the number one superpower of high-performing managers. It was clear that it all starts with the team, then the KPIs follow. Great managers don’t need KPIs to drive performance; they need great teamship.

Building a Real Team

It may sound obvious, but merely calling a team a ‘team’ doesn’t create one. It requires active support and encouragement, autonomy, and praise; the idea that no one is alone and together they are a unit. All of these elements combined play a huge role in how retail staff understand and experience a positive work environment, and great store managers actively nurture them.

Leading from the Front

This often starts with managers levelling the playing field and leading from the front. While many outlined this to us, one interviewee summed it up perfectly by saying,

“You must suffer alongside your team…it’s really important to be in the thick of it on the hardest days and be next to them so that they know that you’re doing it as well. I don’t want to ask them to do something if I haven’t done it myself and they haven’t seen me do it.”

The Importance of Leading by Example

This doesn’t mean hierarchy doesn’t exist, but great leaders lead by example. Sticking rigidly to that hierarchy and adopting closed-off management styles inhibit performance and increase disengagement. As one low-performing team member outlined,

“Fear management makes a barrier. When you’re not recognised by your work, you feel demotivated…you will not work in peace…you will always be in fear. You will not be proactive.”

Understanding Individual Needs

There is near universal acknowledgment that showing up every day goes beyond the targets and getting people to do their job. It’s about the people themselves. Knowing what makes them tick as individuals but also, as one manager outlined,

“making sure that they’re happy doing [their job], making sure people are comfortable, that they know how to do it properly, they’ve all been properly trained.”

The Role of Teamwork in Achieving Goals

Another stated,

“The high performer is achieving targets, getting the job done, but it’s not just about getting the job done, it’s about how you get it done. And how you deliver that. And taking people with you is quite important. Nine times out of 10, it’s teamwork and it’s taking the team with you to make that happen.”

The Science of Teamwork

The science of teamwork has been extensively studied; trust and shared goals have been cited in research as key factors for creating successful collaboration. This becomes even more critical given the evolving nature of work, which is having major implications for teams, including rapidly changing team compositions, shorter project timelines, and unpredictable resource challenges.

Creative Ways to Enhance Team Bonding

In light of the growing demands of the modern workplace, high-performing managers are having to find more creative ways to facilitate team bonding, connectedness, and adaptability to optimise learning and performance. Some examples from our research include:

  • Building a “Recognition Culture” in Teams: Several retailers we studied allocate team budgets to gifts and thank you cards to show appreciation.
  • Facilitating Open and Honest Communication: Many participants highlighted the importance of not shying away from difficult conversations, both from a personal and business perspective. This instilled trust and empowerment.
  • Visibility Matters: Great managers walk the floor and are continually engaged with internal staff and external customers; they are alert to everything that’s happening in their environment to maximise the skills and capacity of their teams.

Teamship Principles from Sir Clive Woodward

This closely mirrors the notion of teamship as described by Sir Clive Woodward, who we also spoke with through the course of this study. Some of the critical “rules” he discussed included:

  • Leaders speak last; the team discusses first.
  • Everyone should have a voice and a psychologically safe environment to express their views.
  • Challenging orthodox thinking is celebrated; there are no bad ideas.
  • Leaders make the final decision. And that means not always having 100% agreement. But those who disagree, disagree and still commit.

Creating Winning Behaviours

This creates team behaviours, actions, and “rules.” They are more powerful than a contract as they’re based on mutual recognition and respect that ultimately become habits. These will embed to become winning, high-performing behaviours: actions you see every day. This transcends sports and holds true across all disciplines.

Conclusion: The Heart of Great Leadership

As we all look to drive more efficiency and higher outcomes from our teams, it serves as a reminder that great leadership is built from humanity, humbleness, a willingness to learn, listen, and respect.

To learn more about how you can drive performance in your front-line teams, reach out to us to find out more.