Why ‘my team get on really well’ could be a red flag for leaders

5th April 2024

Let’s talk about red flags in a team. Well maybe pink ones. (There’s no pink flag emoji quite yet)

‘I love my team, we get on really well.’

Now I’m not naturally cynical or averse to people having a good time. But I’ve learned to prick up my ears when I hear something like that. If our unit of measurement for a team is ‘how well we get on’ then we’re missing a trick.

Too much focus on how well we get on could be a sign that a team may be falling a bit short on delivering meaningful value to all its stakeholders.

Dig a little deeper and we’ve all been in teams like this:

🚩 Team meetings feel like wasted time, nothing much gets done
🚩 There’s a lack of momentum between meetings, and they often get moved
🚩 You find yourself holding back, not saying what you really think, or not saying anything at all
🚩 There’s a lack of creativity, innovation, risk-taking
🚩 It’s a group of individuals who come together to represent their own vested interests (or their own individual teams)
🚩 There’s a lack of respect or trust between each other, though this is rarely acknowledged. Remember, ‘we get on really well’
🚩 There’s no sense of identity. The team can’t really be effectively defined by anyone not in it. Or perhaps even by those who are in it.
🚩 No material outputs, just time put in
🚩 The team thinks at the level of the functions represented in the room, not at the level of the business or enterprise.
🚩 You dread team meetings when they appear in your diary
🚩 The same subjects get raised time and time again
🚩 No one chairs the meeting effectively, or holds us accountable for timing, actions and delivery
🚩 Stakeholders rarely get a mention
🚩 You’re just going through the motions, but it feels bit disruptive to rock the boat and point this out

Be honest, do you recognise any of these? Perhaps you’re in one right now? Perhaps you even lead one? There’s no judgement here. I’m convinced we’ve all been in this situation. So why the post?

My mind is being blown week after week as I study for my PGCert in Team and Systemic Coaching at Henley Business School . As I organise my many thoughts in the coming weeks, I hope to share them with you on the huge impact of coaching a team as an entity in its own right. If you suspect that a team you’re in could actually be working better, then keep in touch.

Great, impactful teams rarely happen by accident. They take thought and skill to commission and to run. But great teams are where competitive advantage can be found. Teams that are greater than the sum of their parts, rather than less than.


About Fi Craig | GoodThinking | Team Coach | Executive Coach

Great teams very rarely happen by accident. They require intentional reflection, courage and growth to deliver on their purpose, their potential and their performance. I support senior teams and the individuals within them deliver meaningful value.

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