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Leadership should get results, or else what is the point of having it?

Achieving excellence in today’s business world requires teamwork.

It stands to reason that the team with a strong leader would perform better than the same team would without a strong leader. Leaders help ensure everything that needs to get done, gets done, and that people’s skills are being put to their best use.

But how can you measure a team’s effectiveness? It’s certainly not as straightforward as measuring quarterly earnings, but it can be done. It’s helpful to think of teams as balancing results and culture, which is what Google found to be the best combination in its quest to determine what makes up the “ideal” team.

The Best Teams Balance Results and Culture

Teams are expected to get results, whether they’re playing basketball or landing a new client. The goal, of course, is to get the best results possible from the team, by ensuring they have the goals, training, and resources they need. Even the team with the greatest interactional chemistry won’t hold together long if it doesn’t get results or consistently fails to reach goals.

At the same time, teams that get stupendous results can implode if the team culture is toxic. If team dynamics are unhealthy, there’s no way to sustain great results over time. Someone will snap, or quit, or deliberately sabotage others’ work, and the results will quickly reflect that toxicity.

Results Should Map to Goals; Culture Should Contribute to Results

Team effectiveness is partly due to goal achievement, and partly due to team members wanting to be a part of it. Therefore, it’s important for team leaders to ensure everyone knows what team goals and individual objectives are, and to measure the achievement of goals and objectives, holding everyone (including themselves) accountable.

But it’s also critical for team leaders to monitor team culture and honestly assess whether it contributes to or detracts from results. Maybe team culture is generally strong, but one or two people feel they are shouldering too much of the burden. Or maybe a team member feels like they’re not being given enough responsibility. It’s up to team leaders to recognize cultural shortcomings and address them.

It’s up to team leadership to ensure team culture drives results and doesn’t detract from them.

Don’t Try to Measure Everything All at Once

When you’re just starting to measure team effectiveness, start small. Perhaps you could designate a team project as a test case, setting a handful of quantifiable KPIs, taking baseline measurements, and then measuring them again at the conclusion of the project. You must also determine the best ways to convert those KPI results into bottom-line impact. Measuring team effectiveness in terms of dollars and cents isn’t the whole story by a long shot, but it gets the attention of executives and helps ensure strong teams can continue their work.

It’s not easy as a team leader to balance the need for measuring team effectiveness with the need to demonstrate that you trust your team to do their best. If you have access to high-quality leadership development programs, you can learn ways to balance the need to sustain a strong culture with the need to demonstrate bottom-line results to those higher up.

Leadership coaching can also help team leaders learn how to develop meaningful metrics, demonstrate accountability, and hold team members accountable without sacrificing a strong team culture. Great communication skills are the key, and leadership coaches often help their clients with this critical competency.

Strong leadership is what separates teams that perform “well enough” from teams that routinely exceed expectations. Learn to balance accountability for results with cohesive, supportive team culture, and you’re on the road to the latter. Learn how to get outstanding results while building a team that is something greater than the sum of its individual members.

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