successful team

4 Key Components of a Successful Team

Effective teamwork is easier said than done. Researchers found that what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together.


Each team member is motivated by different things and each person is impacted differently by the driving forces of words. What’s motivating for one individual can be completely demotivating for another. Clarifying the language you use on the team and how the team communicates goes a long way in maintaining long-term motivation. Additionally, consider how the team as a whole is motivated. Is the team excited by out-of-the-box thinking, or is everyone motivated by doing things in traditional, proven ways? Those driving forces confirm if the team has foundational commonality and will help everyone understand how to motivate each person on that team to achieve the goal.

The key is to understand what drives each team member, including yourself. Using assessments like the TTI Success Insights Driving Forces reveals our motivations. With this clarity, you can unleash individual potential to propel themselves and the team forward. 

Shared Values

Having shared values is essential for a thriving team. Not only does it matter that the team shares values, but also that they define those values, like respect, integrity, and collaboration, in similar ways. These values determine how teammates will conduct themselves throughout the process. Even the value of collaboration versus independence will set a dramatically different tone. 

We don’t always get to choose our teams, but we can choose to determine whether it’s going to be a collaborative team, or whether it’s going to be a group of individuals all doing their own thing, achieving their own version of the goal. According to Forbes, teams that collaborate well consistently generate higher revenues and profits, boost innovation, strengthen client relationships, and attract and retain better talent. If this is the goal of your team, make sure your team is made up of individuals who value collaboration and are able to do so at the most effective times


Many teams do a great job of stating the common goal at the beginning of a project or when a new team forms. That once-and-done approach to team alignment won’t work. Let’s face it, over time people will forget the big picture goal as they get trapped in the weeds of the daily goals. And, many people’s memory of that common goal fades as they morph the goal into their own, which may or may not be something the team agreed to. Here are a few more areas for alignment.

  • Mission/Vision. While people are motivated in different ways, the entire team is together because they believe in the mission, vision, and core purpose of the company. Leverage alignment between the work of the team and the mission of the organization. Ensure individuals see how their work helps the company reach its vision. 
  • Intensity. Beyond the goal itself, the team must be aligned around the intensity of the work. There may be times when one part of the group will be at high intensity while another might be slower. It’s important that people understand the WHY behind that intensity difference. 
  • Methods. Yes, we want people to have freedom in HOW they do their work but we also need to ensure that all methods will align. Think about it as software. If one person is using Asana and another is using Monday, the two project plans won’t connect and could lead to confusion. Now take this software analogy and expand it to communication methods, methods to measure success, celebrate wins, resolve conflicts, and address mistakes. 

Psychological Safety

Being able to understand and appreciate other people’s strengths and capabilities is an obvious element of teamwork. In order for those strengths to be used, psychological safety must first be established. An individual who is reserved and quiet might actually have the best idea, but if they aren’t in an environment where they feel like there’s enough psychological safety or enough trust for them to be able to actually speak up, they will keep their idea to themselves. Cultivate psychological safety by setting up processes that require a response from every single member of the team without putting them on the spot in front of everyone.

Leverage individuals of different backgrounds and expertise in order to drive innovation. Recognize the unique strengths and capabilities that individuals bring, and allow all people to bring those to the table. The DISC assessment can help team members to identify everyone’s strengths and value to the organization. It also reveals areas that might be a hindrance or limitation. Understanding these behaviors, we can leverage those strengths and individuals and allow people to thrive while contributing in the most effective ways at the most effective time in the process. 

While the definition of a team is a group of people with a common purpose (Oxford Dictionary), a successful team takes more than that. Understanding the “how and why” for each person is key. With that foundation, you can utilize these 4 components to accelerate the team’s success. 


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About Amy Lafko

As a Physical Therapist, Amy spent years in school learning best practices for patient care and how to put the patient first. Like so many technically skilled clinicians, she advanced to a leadership role. Spending 20+ years in operational leadership, she had an epiphany: Putting the customer first isn’t the path to success or fulfillment. Rather, the most successful organizations and practices put their people first – and exceptional customer care, profitability, and effectiveness naturally followed.