This misconception is true to some extent, but maybe in a different way than you initially imagined.
Sure, the leaders’ personality, behavior, or style are important factors in how teams perform, but it only accounts for 10% of how a team performs. According to research by Harvard University professor J. Richard Hackman, the most powerful thing a leader can do to foster effective collaboration is to create conditions that help members competently manage themselves.
Hackman’s research suggests that condition-creating accounts for about 60% of the variation in how well a team eventually performs. The quality of the team launch determines the final 30% variation in how well a team eventually performs.
These are mind-blowing numbers, in my opinion. 90% of how teams end up performing is related to how we, as leaders, launch them and the conditions we provide them to perform.
To help you create better conditions for the team to succeed in the future, I encourage you to think about these 10 questions before starting a new team:
- Can the team rally behind a compelling direction? Do they know what that direction is? Are the goals of the team product development related, organizational development related, team related, individual related, or a combination of the above?
- What infrastructure does the team need to complete the mission? And what steps can you take to have the infrastructure in place before kicking off the team?
- How will the team receive timely and trustworthy feedback on the results they are creating? How can you help make sure the team has frequent stakeholder, customer, and end-user contact?
- How and what decisions are the team expected to make? Can you help them identify the team decision areas they are responsible for? And what decision areas you want to have a say in?
- What are the constraints on the team? To what extent can they ‘re’-define the mission they are on?
- What skills (“soft” and technical) does the team need, and what are the interdependencies and boundaries of the team?
- Is there a way to make the team smaller and staff it only with full-time members to increase commitment and avoid “free riding” without introducing new dependencies?
- What training does the team need to quickly learn to make good enough decisions as a team, solve problems as a team, and navigate conflicts as a team?
- How will you support the team in its formation/team development process? How can you lay the foundation for the Scrum Master to coach the team as a team?
- What areas of Agile Leadership do you need to improve to help the team grow? Are you ready to delegate and empower the team to make business-critical decisions?