The secret to build transformational teams

Only transformational organizations will thrive in the future. I have no doubt about that. But what do I mean by “transformational organizations”? The best definition that I came across is by Peter Eckel in 1998. He described transformational organizations based on their abilities to:
  • Alter the culture in the organization by changing behaviours, standards and processes
  • Change the status quo through a deep and pervasive intervention
  • Affect the entire organization
  • Act intentionally by consciously deciding to make the change
  • Transform over time
In other words, transformation is not something you do. It’s who you are as an organization. It does start with creating a new mindset. You don’t build transformational organizations if you don’t build transformational teams first though. Teams are the best vehicle to bring transformation.

What is preventing teams from being transformational?

In my experience, there are three reasons:
  1. Teams are too busy. They don’t have time to meet together and discuss transformational initiatives. They’re too focused on short-term priorities and tasks. The question for you as a leader is: “can you free up time for your team to think more strategically?
  2. Transformation means change. And change is messy, hard, something that many want to avoid because it can be very painful. Other times, leaders are not ready to bring disruptive initiatives because they’re concerned about impacting current operations.
  3. Culture might become an obstacle. For example, cultures based on lack of autonomy, individual rewards vs teams, blame, will inhibit any transformation. 
Five success factors of transformational teams
  • Diversity
Diversity combines three different elements:
  • Demographics (gender, age, race, nationality, etc.)
  • Psychographics (personalities, habits, styles, etc.)
  • Experiences (and stories, skills, etc.) 
Multidimensional diversity is very important because it enriches the quality of the team as well as the ability to learn, share, and generate better ideas within the team. And this leads me to the next factor.
  • Learning
Learning goes beyond training.  Learning is the ability of team members to learn together as a team. This is hugely important, because by learning together, team members don’t only reach better performance, but they grow much faster as individuals compared to non-team members. But there are two conditions though to allow people to learn. One, you must create psychological safety for the team, because people share more when they feel safe. Second,  you must build trust. Trust encourages team members to be themselves and become better every day. Which eventually increases the sense of belonging to a virtuous team.
  • Innovation
Everything is consequential. The more learning you build in a diverse team, the more opportunities you create for your people to generate better insights, and be more creative.  Creativity leads naturally to innovation.  But to let innovation stick, you need to create the conditions for innovation to thrive. Like setting clear rules of engagement with the team to foster any initiative that boosts creativity. And find specific challenges that need to be solved so the team can test several forms of innovation.
  • Autonomy
If you don’t give autonomy, team members won’t be able to test, experiment, and execute what they’re trying to transform. It’s simple. But as a team leader, it’s your responsibility to allow the team to be in that position of “power”. In fact, the team must have internal credibility and influence to change what is not working. Otherwise, team members won’t be recognized as real change agents.  Also, give them space and build a structure (if necessary) for the team to operate at their optimal performance. Don’t micromanage them or overload them with thousands of tasks.
  • Well-being
Many leaders have underestimated for years the importance of well-being for their teams. Remote work has involuntary helped organizations to pay more attention to their employee’s well-being, but not always through scalable initiatives across the entire organization. Well-being has three elements:
  • Body. This is physical well-being. Sports, exercises, sleep but also diet, nutrition, posture, etc.
  • Mind. Personal development, better work-life balance, fewer meetings, less video calls, etc.
  • Spirit. Fun and entertainment at work, relaxation, mindfulness, reading, relationships building, etc.
You want to offer more group activities to reinforce these three elements across the entire team. The best teams must operate at their optimal performance, so here’s when well-being becomes critical. These five factors separate transformational teams from good ones. But it’s your responsibility to create the conditions for making this happens. Listen to the podcast related to this article:  
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