As mentioned in a previous post, Effective Leadership Tools – Promoting Team Dynamics, there is a clear and compelling difference between group dynamics and team dynamics. Knowing the difference may determine your effectiveness as a leader.

A group is merely a “community” of people who have something in common, leaving individual members to muddle along as best they can. A team, on the other hand, shares a common goal toward which all members strive, creating a dynamic of dependency toward success – and perhaps reward, as well.

Evaluating your team

The differences inherent in the two are fundamental, while the difference in performance can be huge and consequential to the success of your team or organization.

How do you know whether you’re leading a team or a group? Here is a list of characteristics and related dysfunctions that exist when a group of people is not set up to succeed as a team:

  • Trust – is lacking among team members
  • Conflict – (or lack thereof) is evidenced by passive-aggressive behavior among members
  • Communication – is inefficient and/or unclear among members
  • Competition – instead of healthy competition, there is unhealthy conflict among members
  • Creativity – is stifled due to the fear of risk-taking or out-of-the-box thinking
  • Investment – in outcomes is stifled by low-level commitments and passion among members
  • Accountability – a lack of personal responsibility accepted among members
  • Clarity – agreements and commitments among members are vague and unenforceable
  • Cliques – small “support” groups develop among members
  • Retention – suffers due to high employee turnover, particularly among new members

Now that you know whether the team you thought you’d built is actually just a group, you can begin to take concrete action to improve team dynamics, and make your efforts as a leader more effective. Which two characteristics above offer the greatest opportunity for the team you lead or are part of? The strategies you can use to improve team dynamics will be the subject of a later post. Stay tuned!