TEAM magic!

Being Part of a High-Performing Team

I was making a video about team work – but I didn’t expect to be enveloped in a magical moment of team synchronicity in the middle of filming.

In the middle of winter, 15 dedicated professionals converged on a Melbourne office block on a Sunday morning, not long after sunrise. They were about to work a twelve-hour day with very little monetary reward but together they created magic.

My business, Dynamic Conversations, produces thought-provoking training materials to educate people about teams and leadership.

I have been very fortunate to work with a young director (Mark Rabahi) and videographer (Josh Potts) to create videos. On our second shoot in Melbourne I was aware that this was a ‘high performing team’ and many of the actors and other members of the crew echoed this sentiment. They all shared an admiration for Mark and said this was their “most enjoyable filming day ever.”

So throughout the day I made a point of observing what it was that made this team tick so well and this is what I noticed:

1. Lack of ego

Mark and Josh are both in their mid 20’s and went through film school together. They are both working in the film industry and building their work experience. They are both humble, genuine guys who see themselves as beginners. They speak quietly, they have a laugh and they listen. Everything about their manner is relaxed but focused. There are simply no emotional undertones. This apparently is rare on a film set, where ego’s and tantrums are common.

2. Trust

The trust between Mark and Josh is palpable. This shows up as respectful communication. They never second-guess each other; they never question the other’s work methods. As the director, Mark is responsible for setting up the shots and telling the story. His trust in Josh to get the right footage is complete. Josh is also trusting of Mark’s skill to tell the story and to be consistent in his direction.

3. Talent

Is it talent or practiced skill? A bit of both maybe – but they are both exceptionally skilled at what they do and this is a major factor in allowing everyone in their team to relax and trust in them.

4. Sharing the vision

And maybe I contributed in a small way too.

I started the day by sharing my vision for the project and explained why making this video was so important and how we could make a difference to the stress and dysfunction in the average workplace. A few people came up to me during the day and thanked me, saying they felt proud to be a part of such an important project.

Leadership sets the tone

These factors allowed for an extraordinary experience for everyone. At the end of a long day of filming, everyone left with a huge smile on their face and with the sense that they’d just contributed to something important.

What is interesting to note is that except for Mark, Josh and myself, the rest of the (12) people in the team that day were different to the last video we made. This highlights to me just how important the leader is in setting the tone for the culture of how the team works together. With a tight culture, people can come and go without affecting the effectiveness of the team.

It’s easy to talk about ‘high-performing teams’ in theory, and there’s no doubt everyone loves being a part of one, but they are often difficult to create in practice.

As a leader, who you are as a person, is reflected in the team and culture you create. You have the power to create a positive or negative workplace. If it’s negative and there seem to be lots of problems, ask yourself how your leadership might be contributing to the problems.

Talking points:

  • How would you describe the culture of your workplace?
  • If there are negative concerns, how might you be contributing to them?
  • Are you trying to get any emotional needs met in the workplace?