When times get tough, organisations introduce efficiency measures and other corporate remedies garnered from the external environment. In today’s operating context, we focus on competitors, watch market trends and study the press incessantly. But the irony is that, in doing so, we take our eye off a powerful source of influence that lies within our own capability.

We prioritise outer influences at the expense of those within our reach, both our own self-leadership and the state of a team’s relationships. But what if we could maximise our teams to be much more effective? We could bring together multiple individuals connected by dependency and common goals – sometimes called a ‘systems approach’ to teamwork. And the results might be truly profound.

The idea that the ‘internal locus of control’ is limited to individuals is a long-held belief. But getting the most from groups could have benefits far beyond traditional team-building. An identity could emerge as the team evolves, communicates and understands together. With a strong sense of belonging, its pride would drive self-assuredness. A team would begin to develop its own rules of engagement and charters. It would become attuned to silent and invisible signals in its ‘emotional field’. Trust and belongingness would increase.

A systems-based team welcomes conflict, perceiving it as a sign that something is trying to evolve. An increased level of responsibility ensures a move from ‘victimhood’ to ‘victorhood’, positioning a team for greater performance and engagement. Eventually, the members are as much a part of the team as its leader. This team recognises the futile aspects of titles, and works with the mantra: ‘Whether you do, or whether you don’t, you have impact.’

It may seem like a utopian ideal. But they say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Systems-based teams and relationships create an environment where it’s possible to maximise, capitalise and synergise for improved performance.

Let’s set business up for success by handing it the keys to powerful, intentional, probable and positive impact on performance. Systems-based team approaches should not be overlooked; they are well within our reach.

Debbie Nicol
Managing director of the ‘business en motion’ learning organisation in Dubai

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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.