Dennis Relojo-Howell

The Psychology of Teamwork: What Makes a Strong Successful Team

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2022, September 27). The Psychology of Teamwork: What Makes a Strong Successful Team. Psychreg on Organisational Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/psychology-teamwork-what-make-strong-successful-team/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

For those who have been part of many teams, it can be difficult to put one’s finger on exactly what made the strong teams so successful. Thankfully, there are ways to dig a little deeper to uncover exactly what makes a particular team excel. 

Understanding the deeper psychological nuances behind teamwork, and how the utilization of certain techniques or practices can improve a team’s resilience, can make leading and being a part of a team easier to navigate. Here is the psychology behind teamwork and the circumstances that make a strong, successful team. 

Great teams have effective leadership 

An integral component of any robust and productive team is effective leadership. Without an adept leader at the helm, even teams compromised of outstanding members won’t be able to reach their full potential. Understanding some potent and viable leadership strategies can make it easier to revitalize one’s team into a paragon of success and productivity. 

One industry that takes various philosophies of leadership into account is nursing. Understanding some of the various leadership styles in nursing can give insight into how to lead one’s team effectively. Some of the most notable leadership styles found in the nursing field include democratic leadership, transformative leadership, and laissez-faire leadership. 

Democratic leadership involves a leader that values the input of all of the members of their team and consistently taps team members for their opinions on the various decisions being made. This leadership style is characterised by a strong emphasis on open communication between leaders and their teams. While this form of leadership has proved itself to be effective in the field of nursing, it applies to many other fields such as business. 

Transformative leadership focuses on creating a mission for a team to rally around. While this type of leadership can have spectacular results and cause team members to be highly motivated, not every leader is capable of this leadership style. To be a transformative leader, one must possess the ability to inspire and motivate others consistently and typically requires someone to be extremely articulate, extroverted, and comfortable making routine motivational speeches. 

Laissez-faire leadership is distinctly different from the previous two leadership styles in that it involves leaving team members to their own devices. While this concept may at first glance seem counterintuitive, it actually allows team members a chance to develop feelings of autonomy, independence, and a sense of pride in their work. This can cause team members to consistently strive to go the extra mile in their duties and create a resilient team. The caveat to laissez-faire leadership is the fact that some people may not respond well to this type of leadership. While some individuals may excel as a result of hands-off leadership, others may use it as an excuse to do the bare minimum. 

Exceptional teams grow and evolve

While some people swear by the maxim, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,’ in the realm of leadership and teamwork, this approach can be highly detrimental. A consistent facet of highly effective and successful teams is the practice of growing, evolving, and developing new skills. For teams looking to improve and become stronger, incorporating the practices of skill development offers them the chance to do so. 

In recent years, the term ‘upskilling’ has been coined to describe the increasingly popular practice of organisations encouraging their employees to learn new skills. Upskilling employees benefits companies in a plethora of ways, and the positive outcomes of this practice are quickly making it a staple in the business processes of many organisations. 

Studies have shown that the practice of upskilling employees has significantly improved the performance of teams while also increasing employee retention rates. What this indicates is a desire that team members to grow and develop new skills to be better performers. 

By becoming better performers, these team members then have the opportunity to help make their team more resilient, productive, and effective. Consequently, instilling one’s team members with opportunities to develop more skills can result in a team made up of more valuable individuals who are better equipped to help a team find success. 

Successful teams promote diversity

In any industry, it makes sense that teams with more diversity are more equipped to successfully face more scenarios and challenges. This stems from the fact that diversity allows teams to look at challenges from various alternative perspectives, resulting in more novel and successful solutions. However, while leading a diverse team can be incredibly effective, it can also sometimes be difficult to juggle the needs of various individuals. 

Managing a diverse team requires leaders to make a concerted effort to truly understand various team members while also being empathetic to people from varying backgrounds. One practice that can particularly useful when leading a team of diverse individuals is that of regular team-building exercises. These exercises will allow diverse teams to bond and feel a deeper sense of connection to other team members, regardless of differences in backgrounds. 

To make diverse teams as pleasant as possible for all employees, leaders must be open to feedback and criticism. While it can be difficult to open oneself to critiques and unfavourable opinions, communicating with team members and meeting their needs is a vital aspect of leading a diverse group. Accordingly, making oneself open to criticism can result in a robust and effective team along with a deeper sense of camaraderie among team members. 

Taking advantage of teamwork

While leading a team can sometimes feel overwhelming, developing a strong and successful team can be done by implementing a few distinct practices. These include strong leadership, allowing employees to develop new skills, and cultivating a diverse team of individuals. 

By making an effort to improve in these key areas, any team has the opportunity to improve and become a stronger and more successful team.


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.

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