I have had the opportunity over the past few years to work with academic leaders and teams focused on accelerating and elevating their effectiveness. Most recently I partnered with a dean to facilitate their annual leadership retreat that included discussions about alignment with the overall university mission, objectives, and strategies. In addition to talking about what the college had to do, there was an emphasis on why and how.

We started by defining leadership as the intentional influence and impact on others. It was important that everyone saw how they contributed to the team regardless of title. Understanding their “WHY” was an equally important starting point from which to build alignment. Using their own experiences, we explored what differentiated teams from groups and openly questioned when a team was warranted. One overall differentiator raised was: What were the few things that could only best be done by all of them?

With a target in mind, the team generated specific examples of accelerators and decelerators on their path to being a higher performing team. This provided direction for identifying individual and team action plans.

The final challenge was to identify upcoming Team Effectiveness Moments that would test those action plans. This was intended to anticipate obstacles and to leverage successes. One key component was identifying a team member to hold each other accountable.

Appropriately, we ended the retreat with an expectation of “to be continued…”

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