We talk a lot about creating trust, psychological safety, and cohesion to make teamwork most effective.
This research however indicates that managing tensions that occur naturally within top teams, such as
- Risk vs. results
- External vs. internal pull, and
- Top-down vs. bottom-up innovation
is actually more important than seeking cohesion.
What should leaders do to deal with these tensions?
- Reframe tension and dialogue openly
- Keep the customer front and center
- Hold the team accountable for fostering innovation.
Enjoy the read -- and your daily tensions!
Results from our research indicate that while concepts like internal cohesion and psychological safety are important to team performance, they are not the most critical at the enterprise level. Rather, it is the ability to manage conflicting tensions — as opposed to seeking cohesion — that is the most predictive of top-team performance. How can a team embrace these tensions? We are not tolling the final bell on the long-held notion that cohesion is critical to team performance. Indeed, for enterprise-wide teams to successfully traverse the tensions outlined above, trust and positive team dynamics are foundational. In fact, our results were consistent with this notion, in that teams with high levels of trust, transparency, a team-first mentality, and collective pride perform better along several dimensions (e.g., overall organizational performance, employee engagement).