The Synergy between Members of High Performing Teams: Focus on Accountability


“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen R. Covey

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch, for the second time, a very compelling movie that touches upon profound topics such as of accountability and discipline. This movie, among other things, shows us how a group of people can achieve a level of success previously thought impossible, by following a strict discipline; a well thought of plan. That movie was Coach Carter, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Personally, having grown up an athlete, the central theme of this movie really resonated with me. And, I think it should resonate with you as well, regardless if you’ve had the privilege of being involved in athletics or not. The movie covers several important aspects a lot of teams today completely lack. To name a few, accountability, goal setting, the benefit of the team above all else, communication, empathy. The list can go on and on.

Common knowledge tells us that teamwork doesn’t require any level of genius or mastery. But, it does require a lot of courage and persistence. Putting together teams that achieve true synergy is not a simple task, and it’s even harder to sustain them. This may sound difficult but not impossible. They key to the whole process is to understand where you want to go before you start building the team. Set clear expectations and be crystal clear about what you want the team to achieve.

Accountability wins an underdog a World Championship Title

world-baseball-classic-dominican-repLet’s take for example, the Dominican Baseball team that won last year’s World Baseball Classic (don’t blame me for being Dominican). The team assembled for that tournament was not the most talented, nor the most skilled. Some of the players in the roster were past their prime; others were just starting their Major League careers. What the team did have was robust chemistry, and very good top leadership. These two components made up a winning recipe no other team was able to match. The team was so cohesive that they finished the tournament undefeated.

Taking this last story as a takeaway, it’s important to consider that teams such as this are uncommon, but are not an exception to the rule. It all boils down to who leads the team, and his(her) conviction and dedication to achieving the ultimate goal envisioned for the team.  Once leadership is clear about where it wants to take the team, the following ingredients must also be sought out:

1. Seamless communication

All team members act as if they are “joint at the hip”. When it comes to their performance, what one team player does, the other one knows. They ask each other to contribute to each other’s work and preparation. This fosters an innovation-driven, collaborative environment, that enhances the performance of the team as a whole.

2. Share a common goal; engrave it in the team’s DNA

Goal setting is never an issue in teams such as this. Once the entire team has its sight on the “price”, nothing will deter its momentum from the attainment of that goal. Remember the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s?

3. Accountability

Accountability falls heavily on each team member’s shoulders, as his(her) performance may directly affect the cohesiveness of the team. If someone within the team breaks away from set course, other members jump in to reel him(her) in.

4. Champion decision making

This relates to the ability of team members to take proactive action to anticipate what another player/colleague needs, and act on that need. The only minor aspect we must consider here is to avoid getting to a point of consensus, as it is a very dangerous area for a team to be in.

Team-BuildingFor expert coaches/leaders, knowing the path to team assembly is not the issue. Is finding the perfect candidates to assemble that team, so it can reach a never-before-seen level of excellence.

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