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1. A less functional team might make you feel low, doubtful of your own ability, and emotionally damaged.  A really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

2. How a team functions is far more important than who is on a team.

3. In this module, we'll look at "the fab five" secrets of building a high-performance team - in your workplace or even at home with your family.

It’s common knowledge that productivity increases when people collaborate well. That goes for businesses, schools, universities, even social groups like book clubs. High-functioning teams are good for profitability, student achievement and even fun get-togethers.

But what makes a terrific team? Is it putting the greatest minds together? Socializing outside of work? Grouping people by experience? Having the same level of education? Having a strong leader?


Good teams might have some or all of those things. But so do bad teams. When you take the time to review the research, none of those factors explain what makes a great team great. So that’s what I’m going to do in this series – offer some answers so you can build healthy, high-performance teams.

But first, let me ask you this: when you think back over some of the less functional, less productive  teams you’ve been on, what comes to mind? What was it like? How did it make you feel?

People report feeling pretty low, doubtful of their own ability, sometimes even emotionally damaged when they’ve been part of a low-functioning or failing team. On the other hand, a really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

Don’t confuse a bad team with a really tough situation or problem to solve. On one of the best teams I ever formed, we all experienced freezing conditions, physically gruelling 18-hour days and rough working conditions (as in, setting up an “office” on the side of a cliff using solar panels to run a satellite network). We were 12,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains. We were often cold, hungry, tired, sometimes even sick….and happy. And successful. The living was hard but the teamwork was fantastic. We were high when we got back from the expedition, not low.

We had quite a few things in common, including some fancy credentials and unusual expertise. But that wasn’t why we worked. It’s not enough to have “the best people” in order to have the best teams. There’s much more to it than that.

How much more? That’s what Google asked itself about five years ago when it embarked on Project Aristotle. Google studied hundreds of its own teams and discovered this: how a team functions is far more important than who is on a team. The team’s “communal health” matters the most. It’s not about how smart the members are – it’s about how they view their task and treat one another.

I’m going to share with you what that means. In the next five articles, I’ll draw on Project Aristotle and other research to help you build healthy, high-performance teams – in your workplace or even at home with your family.

I’ll be covering “the fab five” of healthy, high-performance teams: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning and impact. And what’s really interesting is that all five areas are also critical for overall mental health. In other words, if you incorporate these five aspects into your teamwork, you’ll also be building your mental health (and that of your colleagues) for all parts of your life.