Guiding Principles of Team Effectiveness


  1. People support what they help build.  Engaging all the stakeholders' participation is essential to success.

  2. Being in a position of authority does not bestow knowledge, wisdom or leadership.  Those assets are exercised by paying attention to others with curiosity and bringing out the best in them.

  3. What gets measured gets done.  Measure twice and cut once.

  4. We apply the principles of systems thinking (boundaries, inputs, processes, outputs, feedback) to our work and to understanding ourselves and our team dynamics.
  5. We minimize rework by planning ahead, adopting standards, coordinating our efforts, questioning assumptions, and sharing knowledge.
  6. Consensus occurs when everyone on a team understands a proposal and expresses a willingness to support it -- not that they necessarily agree that it's the best possible course of action.  Operating by consensus produces more effective solutions than a dominance-submission process as long as there's an effective culture for sharing information openly, questioning assumptions, discussing team processes, honoring all participants, and resolving conflicts.  Without consensus, team members are operating out of alignment, blind to the covert disagreements that have not been put on the table for discussion and resolution.  (See the McCarthys' Decider Protocol.) 
  7. "Conflicts arise as the result of conversations that are not happening."  –John Gottman, PhD
  8. A conflict that emerges from expression of diverse points of view is a natural, healthy occurrence in the course of an evolving relationship, not something to be avoided.

  9. An effective team has an agreed method of escalating decisions when consensus has stalled as a result of "the tyranny of a minority" blocking resolution.

  10. Every voice has a place in the choir -- even the disagreeable ones.

  11. Being accountable for our intentions as well as our results demonstrates and builds maturity.  In fact, no matter what we may like to think, our colleagues can sense our intentions, so we may as well own up to them.
  12. Defensiveness is a business cost.  We make an effort to enhance our awareness of our own defenses and their consequence to us, to our team, and to the company. *

  13. We are most effective when we're self-aware -- i.e., when I know my strengths and weaknesses and my impact on those around me.  I'm more self-aware when I'm aware of my defensive parts (my "primary selves") and what parts I am defending -- i.e., what feelings I'm resisting and disowning.  It's a service to the team when I'm aware of how my inner parts and personal issues affect my workplace. *

  14. Decisions and agreements are accountable communications that are important enough to be captured and recorded in an accessible journal of significant events.

  15. We promote openness in our communications.  I can find out how you feel about me, about my work, and about what it's like for you to work with me anytime I want to know.  We do not withhold from one another.  We ask straight questions, and we give straight answers.  When I'm doing something that reduces your comfort or effectiveness, you inform me at the time.  Resentment does not grow. *

  16. Communication occurs when the message received is equal to the message intended.  Without objective feedback about what message was received, one can not assume communication has occurred.

  17. When the receiver is off, any effort to send a message is wasted at best.

  18. When sending an intended message does not result in the reception of an equivalent message, there's probably a resonance problem in the dynamic between the sender and receiver.  It's not somebody's fault.

  19. Expression of a diversity of ideas, styles and preferences is a powerful process for raising capability maturity when it's managed effectively.  This requires:

    • treating all participants' contributions, thoughts and opinions as being worthy of equal consideration and listening for understanding
    • embracing conflict when it occurs 
    • addressing conflict as a win-win opportunity for a higher level of integration of the team's energies rather than as an unpleasant win-lose battle of wills or egos that must be avoided
    • providing facilitation and coaching when individuals are conflicting without movement toward resolution
  20. Accountability imposed on an individual or a team (as a parent would assign a chore to a child) without an unqualified commitment to support their success is an unbalanced dynamic that will erode the capability maturity of the person or the team or both.

  21. “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”  –George Land, Leadership 2000

  22. The more familiar an idea or a process seems, the less likely it is to trigger an immune response.

  23. Questioning our own assumptions is one of the most difficult and uncomfortable skills required to achieve excellence, and there is no substitute for it.

  24. We are self-determinant.  When we are involved in a project, there is no question about who is accountable for its success.  Everyone is 100% responsible for their experience and their contribution.  Blame does not exist.  We deal directly with our differences.  We see how each of us is contributing to the problem or situation, and we identify how each of us will contribute to the solution. *

  25. “Handle the difficult, while it is still easy.” –Lao Tsu

  26. Whirled peas begins in each person's own art.  We don't take ourselves too seriously.

See also

See also the McCarthys' The Core Commitments and The Elements of The Core.


* Derived from

Team Analytics Consulting provides training for teams through The Teamwork Shop, which focuses on these activities:

  • aligning to serve a shared vision – a set of values, a common purpose, and a common process
  • embracing a diversity of styles and ideas
  • affirming the equal value of participants’ contributions
  • managing roles & group dynamics
  • managing communication processes
  • creating mutual support among interdependent participants
  • learning together