As a leadership volunteer at the American Heart Association, I teach team dynamics.  Team dynamic is used when operating in critical situations involving emergency cardiac care, it is amazing and it works for just about any kind of team.

Working teams require deep level of commitment to and from one another.  New members have difficulty infiltrating a team without a team dynamic approach.  The key to team dynamics is everyone participates inside of this approach.

Team dynamics is rigorous and intentional work, but the payoff is highly effective team dynamics.  High Performance Team Dynamics[1] has 8 steps:

  1. Clear roles and responsibilities
  2. Clear communication
  3. Mutual respect and inclusion of all[2]
  4. Knowledge sharing, especially new team members that need things explained
  5. Constructive intervention
  6. Closed-looped communication
  7. Knowing one’s limitations
  8. Constant re-evaluating

Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Clear roles and responsibilities involve every member of the team knowing his role and responsibility.  The leader must communicate and encourage all to participate in leadership rather than simply follow directions. Tasks must be prioritized and assignments made with each member working seamlessly for a desired outcome.

Clear Communication

Clear communication involves speaking clearly and concisely with distinctive speech in a controlled, neutral tone of voice.  This calm direct manner is critical to maintaining communication without causing delays in operations.  This includes repeating information as needed and clarifying questions asked.  Fiery passion is best left out of communication, especially when highly critical operations are taking place, because passion can cloud or muddy the waters of communication.

Mutual Respect and Inclusion

Mutual respect for and inclusion of each team member requires all members to abandon their egos, and respect and include others regardless of their training or experience.  Leaders maintain their integrity of giving mutual respect and providing inclusion for all team members.

Respect is the foundation of any relationship – work, family, marriage, or friendship. We violate the respect for others when we think more highly of ourselves.

This highly self-flattering view borders at times on pure fantasy. The natural ebb and flow of life will cause us to hurt one another at times. Knowing this requires awareness of our ego and putting it in check when dealing with others.  Maintaining respect is a process that requires all team members to be aware of their views and their impact on others. This also comes into play when including others. Leadership is about creating lifelong relationships with people.

Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing is a critical component of effective team dynamics.  Team leaders are not stuck on “everything is OK,” or “there is only one way to do something,” as these tactics are counterproductive.  When efforts are ineffective, leaders discuss the basics with the team and ask for input and recommendations for new possibilities.  All members prevent mistakes by being present and providing knowledge as necessary to other team members.  All team members provide information as it arises so that nothing is hidden from the team, including mistakes.  In leadership nothing is hidden.

Knowledge sharing is a tool that clarifies communication.  It interjects pieces of the puzzle that might not have been explained or is acquired through experience.  The key to sharing knowledge is neutrality in the delivery.  Consider how the world would look or feel like if we simply filled in what is missing for one another, instead of what is wrong or different with another.

Constructive Intervention

Constructive intervention allows for questions or actions when a mistake is about to occur.  All team members should be tactful and avoid confrontation, allowing for a structured debriefing later—after the intervention has prevented the problem.

The world of safety or emergency operations requires constructive intervention, but so does that of industry.  As long as humans are involved in processing, mistakes and will occur.  Even the computers we use must be programmed by humans. Constructive intervention is a team effort.  If one member misses a critical step in operations, another team member is there to fill the gap.

Closed-Looped Communications

The use of closed-looped communications is required when operations are critical to life, health, and safety.  The leader gives the message, an order, or an assignment to the team.  The member receiving the message confirms the message with direct eye contract and repeats the message back to the leader.  The leader listens for confirmation that the message was accurately received.  Only one person should be talking at a time, as multiple conversations at once can decrease the clarity of understanding.

Knowing Ones Limitations

Knowing one’s limitations requires each team member to know the limitation and capabilities of all team members.  This allows the leader and team to evaluate and call for support when assistance is needed.

Team members should anticipate situations in which they might require support or assistance and communicate to the team leader in advance.  Experienced team members should provide attention to the task and support the new team members as necessary to complete new task and skills.

Constant Re-Evaluation

Constant re-evaluation and summarizing while maintaining flexibility is the role of the leader and all team members.  As new information arises, the leader must change direction, as it is critical to the operation and the entire team.

Team dynamics is key to successful operations.  Doctors and presidents of corporations are smart to allow the influence of the team.  This is teamwork.  Everyone must follow the leader and be a leader when needed.

[1] American Heart Association, Team Dynamics
[2] Sherrie C Wilson added “Inclusion for all for multi-cultural, gender and others differences