How Can Leaders Create Collaborative Teams?

A leader’s success is oftentimes based on the performance and inner workings of their team. Building a strong team can be challenging even when the vision is clear and understood by team members. When I work with leaders and their teams, one thing that can really derail a successful outcome is poor collaboration and the breakdown of relationships. If team members don’t have strong rapport with one another, communication and trust dissolve. What are some key ways to cultivate trust, communication, rapport and collaboration?


  1. Trust is the foundation of any functional team. According to Patrick Lencioni in his famous book, “The Five Dysfunctions of Teams”,without trust there is little chance of achieving a high performing team. It is up to the leader to help develop trust amongst the team members. One way I have done this is by having each person on the team respond to these questions:
    • Where did you grow up?
    • What childhood challenges did you face?                                                                                                    These questions can open our minds and hearts to understanding each  other better and creates a healthy vulnerability to share with each other. When we gain personal insights into each other’s lives, we begin to build a pillar of trust.
  1. Communication is the oil that a team runs on. Communicating in a clear and assertive manner helps a team develop a culture of transparency, where hidden agendas are dissolved. The form of communication needs to be flexible and appropriate. Whether individuals use e-mail, texting, phone or face-to-face, being crystal clear of needs and concerns must prevail. Before deciding on the form of communication ask:
    • Which type of communication would be the clearest one to use?
    • Which type of communication is most efficient without compromising content?
    • Should more than one form be used?
  1. Rapport is the ability to relate to others on a team that is most meaningful and productive. The key to developing rapport is knowing how each individual best receives and digests information. Here are some questions to ask:
    • When sharing insights and information, is my team member more auditory, visual or kinesthetic? If we share knowledge and data visually to an individual who prefers to listen, the exchange might not be as clear.
    • When processing ideas, think about the other person’s style. Do they approach things in a systematic way, need lots of facts and figures, want the big picture or are they extremely detail oriented? Answering these questions can create a rapport that takes into consideration different behavioral styles.
  1. Collaboration is working together in a highly productive way, to achieve an outstanding result. Leaders can foster collaboration once trust, communication and rapport are in place. In my work I find creating an experiential exercise for the team can be extremely beneficial in developing team rapport. One exercise I love that builds on trust, communication, and rapport is creating a safe carrier for a raw egg. Using straws, masking tape, an egg and creativity, the team must create a carrier for the raw egg. Then the carrier, with the egg in it, is dropped from a five foot distance. Will the egg break? That answer usually depends on how well the team collaborated. Were all ideas kicked around? Was each member of the team encouraged to participate? Was everyone valued?

 Are you a leader ready to create a collaborative team? What other ways have you cultivated collaboration?



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