January 9, 2018
Achieving results through teams and networks of teams—both permanent and temporary ones—is essential in today’s rapidly evolving digital world of work.
When team members collectively exhibit high-character behavior, they’re better equipped to face today’s challenges, such as working through uncertainty, learning from mistakes, and managing differences.
What do we mean by “character”? Character means acting with integrity, living up to one’s values, and honoring obligations, especially when the pressure is on or when no one is looking.
The research I’ve done at AchieveForum reveals that on high-character teams, people acknowledge their mistakes, correct them, and do the right thing under pressure and uncertainty—even when it creates personal risk. In low-character teams, people hide their mistakes, look for scapegoats, and make saving face the top priority.
The good news is that a manager can take several steps to create a high-character team:
Build a strong team culture. What does this culture look like? Here are some tips:
As a team leader, model character in action. These three actions will help you and your team exhibit high-character behavior:
To build a high-character team, you’ll also need to address “know-do” and “intent-impact” gaps:
Know-do gaps. When you ask most people what character is, they know the answer. Yet achieving high-character behavior is easier said than done. We need to close the know-do gap that gets in the way of doing the right thing.
Intent-impact gaps. Team leaders and members are often unaware of behaviors that may be limiting team character. We need to close the gap between what we intend to do and how it is experienced by others.
Success today requires high-character teams. Character can be developed in ourselves and in others when we do three things: build strong teams, model the character behavior we expect in others, and close key gaps.