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  • John Bentley

The Chemistry Of Winning Teams

“Finding good players is easy …. Getting them to play as a team is another story”

Casey Stengel

The sports world has long recognised the concept and value of team chemistry and managed this seemingly intangible element to achieve victory.

Team chemistry is one of the most mysterious and complex keys to the success of all types of organisations. Outstanding teams are more than just a collection of talented members. To be truly effective, a team has to be able to combine the efforts and abilities of members in the right way.

In general terms, team chemistry is the dynamic which arises from the different qualities which each team member contributes and the interactions of team members with each other.

An immediate and very visual example of a world class team is the Ferrari Formula 1 Team. Whilst the world sees the most eminent members of the team as the manager and the drivers, a glance at the serious teamwork in motion during one of the amazingly slick pit stops, clearly illustrates its caliber and chemistry. So remarkable is this process that it has been dubbed “Ferrari F1 Pitstop Perfection”. The team won the DHL Fastest Pitstop Award, achieving a pit stop of only 1.85 seconds at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2015. The award was in recognition of the outstanding teamwork and performance of the “unsung heroes” whose efforts directly impact the results of the driver and the team as a whole.

As the business world relies more and more on collaborative effort, leaders at every level and in all types of organisation need to understand and apply the basics of team chemistry. At the heart of any successful commercial organisation there needs to be a world class team.

The question is …

What can the commercial world learn from the outstanding team performance of the likes of the Ferrari team … what are the key elements which make this magic?

Many sports and business analysts have studied team composition, behaviour and performance and there are numerous theories on effective team building and management. However, there are certain themes which run through the various discourses and form an essential checklist for those working to power outstanding teams:

  • Diversity

Effective team composition is more than a collection of skilled, high performing individuals. Strong teams need to have a balance of different competencies and these differences must be recognised and appreciated

  • Role Taking

Clarity of roles and an understanding of the inter-dependence of roles is essential to the efficiency and effectiveness of any working team

  • Cohesiveness

There are different ways to define group cohesiveness, but most researchers define this as task commitment and interpersonal attraction to the group. It can also be more specifically defined as the tendency for a group to be in unitywhile working towards a goal or satisfying the emotional needs of its members

  • Common Vision

Members of motivated teams need to have clear direction of the future to which all members aspire and work towards

  • Pride in team membership

Members of successful teams are proud of their organisation and feel privileged to be part of it

  • Trust

Trust is the vital ingredient which binds all the other elements together. There needs to be trust in colleagues’ skills, commitment and complete integrity. Without trust between members of the team all other elements will exist in vain and the scope and resulting team output and performance will be severely restricted.

And of course, no team is complete without its leader …

Whilst strong teams will have a high level of intrinsic motivation, the catalyst for combining the team attributes and creating and sustaining the necessary team climate and chemistry has to be a truly intuitive and inspiring leader.

By way of summary about this whole “team magic” topic, we may reflect on the words of the Classic Queen hit “It’s a Kind of Magic”:

One dream, one soul, one prize,

One goal, one golden glance of what should be

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