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4 Rules of leading high-performance teams

One of the major mistakes people make while managing teams is thinking of them as something mechanical, like machines that work perfectly when geared.

If they do not work well, as with machines, someone must come out to adjust or change any defective part. After all, a machine can hardly self-repair or self-replace. At Oxford Leadership, we consider teams (and organisations) to be living, complex adaptive systems, and apply the knowledge we derive from the theories of complexity and chaos.

Below are the four laws or principles that I apply to a working team. In my opinion, all team leaders must know these, and apply them, if they want to take their team to its optimal level of development and performance:

RULE 1. Self-organisation

As a leader, you should not try to force things to happen; remember that spontaneous processes routinely occur in complex living systems. You do need to influence how things are organised, however. The common fear is falling into anarchy; with a clear plan of influence, this will not happen. The risk that fear generates is excessive control, the subsequent elimination of initiative and responsibility, and the creation of frustration and even resentment. My question to you is: Are there any aspects of the team you are trying to over-control?

RULE 2. Entropy

Over time, things lose energy, wear out and become disordered. A living system tends to disorder, and the leader should ensure a constant injection of energy. That does not mean that he or she must impute energy, but the leader must create the conditions for the team to regenerate energy periodically. How do you do this? What activities do you regularly promote to renew the energy of your team?

RULE 3. Interconnectivity

Everything is connected at some point. A 2008 study conducted by Microsoft demonstrated that we are all connected within seven degrees of separation. Facebook now says that we are within four degrees of separation. At most, there are only three people between you and anyone in the world. In your team, what are the causal relations you do not see with the naked eye? What are these deep connections that affect your team?

RULE 4. Consciousness

Consciousness affects reality. We do not see the world as it is, but as we are. Einstein said that if you want to change something, you must first change the mentality that supports it. Our consciousness and our beliefs determine our reality. What change of consciousness and mind might you need to face to be a better leader for your team? Which changes could you promote for the members of your team?

Our Chairman and Founder Brian Bacon published a great article on this subject, “Characteristics of High Performing Teams”, which addresses the dynamic and provides guidelines of how a team should work together. I highly recommend you read this and reflect on how you can implement these guidelines and effectively lead your “High Performing Team.”

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