Traits of a Successful Team

A team is defined as a group of people who come together as a team to achieve a common goal.  Look what Steve Jobs had to say about teams:

"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people" - Steve Jobs

A good leader recognizes the need for a good team and works hard at at creating an environment for the team to succeed.  I read an article (a) recently in Inc. Magazine where Google studied 180 teams over 2 years do determine teams.  The operations was called Project Aristotle, and Google gathered several of their best and brightest to help the organization codify the secrets to team effectiveness.  There goal: to determine why some teams excelled while others fell behind. 

Google noticed 5 traits, or "group norms," that successful company's had that unsuccessful companies did not.  Group norms are the traditions, behavioral standards, and unwritten rules that govern how teams function when they gather that are either unspoken or openly acknowledged.  So whether you'rs a team leader or team member, the team's effectiveness, and thus your effectiveness, depends on these 5 traits or group norms:

  • Dependability: Team members get things done on time and meet expectations

  • Structure and clarity: High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group

  • Meaning: The work has personal significance to each member

  • Impact: The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good

  • Psychological Safety:  Google found that teams with psychologically safe environments had employees who were less likely to leave, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately, who were more successful

Interestingly, one of the 5 traits above stood out in Google's findings - Psychological Safety.  Here's what the author says about this:

"We've all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It's unnerving to feel like you're in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.  But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard. That's psychological safety."

Application: Ask yourself whether you exhibit these traits, in either leading or participating in, a team?  Which trait(s) do you struggle with?  How can you work on improving this trait?

(a) Source: Inc. Magazine, ichael Schneide, "oogle Spent 2 Years Studying 180 Teams. The Most Successful Ones Shared These 5 Trait. Insights from Google's new study could forever change how teams are assembled.," July 19, 2017,