We often mistake a group for a team.  What is the difference? What makes an effective winning team is that the members will work selflessly for each other and for the team’s objectives.  A team like this can consistently out perform what is in effect simply a group of stars that are out primarily for their own agenda.  In sporting terms, the England womans’ team are a brilliant example of a cohesive team defying the odds and out performing teams currently ranked above them to win the European Championship. The woman’s team is greater than the sum of its parts.  However, whether it is sport or business, in teams where egos rule and the focus is on internal points scoring and empire building/protection then the reverse tends to be true.  The team is less than the sum of its parts – however brillaint some of these individuals may be.  To quote Michael Jordan: “Talent can win a game, however it takes teamwork and intelligence to win championships.”

 So what explains a successful cohesive team?  Well obviously a primary driver is leadership, and Sarina Weigman is widely recognised as a key part of the team’s success by her work off the field.  I supect that a key part of her success is down to a quality of leadership that I would describe as “Understanding others and enabling them to do what they want to do!” 

To achieve this understanding and knowledge a leader must know:

  •  How each team member defines success? In other words what they want out of the game in totality?
  • What gives them energy?
  • What drains them and sucks away the energy?
  • What are their values? If you are expecting them to achieve tasks or goals that don’t match their values then they will underperform.
  • What is their background and interests? Family, life events, hobbies etc.
  • What gives them a real buzz, makes them really proud and who would they like to celebrate with?

The leader’s role is also to encourage and develop this knowledge in the team too – that way they will support and acknowledge each other, and become much more cohesive and effective.

Some simple tips for achieving this outcome are:

  •  Use their language or the language of their favourite sport when talking about business objectives. It is a well established fact that we communicate or receive communication according to one of three main pathways – visual, auditory or kinaesthetic.  Listen for expressions like “I see what you are getting at.” “Sounds good to me.” Or “Feels about right.”  That will tell you what is their preferred channel and then use it yourself back to them.
  • Ask questions, listen (ask yourself what you have just learnt about them) and then follow up questions. For example:

Let me first congratulate you on your contribution to the discussion about xxx at our staff meeting this morning.  What is that gives you such a buzz about the subject?”

Listen to what they say and ask yourself how they have added your knowledge about them.  Then ask a question such as “What is important to you about that?”  If you can link purpose and values in your team then their motivation will rocket as will morale.


  • Watch and observe. What topics, events, behaviours makes them come alive or, alternatively, drain their energy and interest?  Some team members will want to master the detail, others will be much more broad brush.  Some will be much more observant, caring of their fellow team members and where they are at, others will be much more focused on the task in hand.  These behavourial traits are neither right or wrong.  A good leader will help them to blend to the benefit of the whole team – in that way the sum of the whole will be far greater than the sum of the individual members.

A Catalyst Speeds up Results!

We have found Wiley’s Everything DiSC Catalyst a great web based learning and development tool to help build this level of understanding and self-development in a team.  Contact us now for more information and a short demonstration video.


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