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Home Leaders Community What Does A Healthy Team Look Like?

What Does A Healthy Team Look Like?

Have you ever been a part of a “healthy team”?

Think of all the teams you’ve been a part of over the course of your life: sports teams, academic teams, work teams, leadership teams, families, service teams, study teams, travel teams. The list goes on.

When you think back, what was the “healthiest team” you were ever a part of? Can you articulate what it was about the team that made it so exceptional?

I’ve been a part of a couple of teams over the course of my life that have been incredible. I’ve also been on a number of teams that have been a real struggle and not a lot of fun.

If I were to try to pinpoint what made a team better than another one, it all comes down to “trust.” Teams that engage in trust as a foundational aspect of their function, enjoy greater success and greater team member engagement.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, talks about five key aspects of any team:

  1. Results
  2. Accountability
  3. Commitment
  4. Conflict
  5. A Foundation of Trust

His book dives deeper into each of these categories, but he basically summarizes his thoughts with this quote.

The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage.

Lencioni states that when team members have the courage to build trust and make themselves vulnerable, it lays a foundation for a team, and it changes everything else that comes from that team.

As I think back to the teams that I was a part of, trust played a huge part in them. We were a team that did some important things together:

  • We spent time together, outside of our work environment.
  • We shared our lives: the good, the bad, and the tough. We were vulnerable and that helped us develop genuine care for each other.
  • We engaged in conflict. Because we had a solid foundation of trust, conflict was a positive thing and it made our team and organization better because we weren’t afraid to speak the truth and even disagree.
  • We had each other’s backs. While we didn’t always agree, we were committed to each other and we supported and stood up for each other, especially when others weren’t around.
  • We liked each other. We actually enjoyed the time we had together and made it a priority.
  • We weren’t afraid to fail and we took risks, together. We knew we had the support of each other, so this gave us extra confidence.

Here’s the reality:

You can make any team you’re a part of better! Here are four simple steps:

  1. Make the team a priority. Let them know that they are important and that you value each of them.
  2. Define the goals and purpose of the team. Let them know why they are on this team and what you expect from them and what you hope to accomplish.
  3. Model vulnerability. If you want to build trust, you as the leader need to start. Show them how it’s done.
  4. Invest time into the team. Nurture relationships, in and out of the workplace. The more time you spend with people, the deeper the trust is developed.

Don’t settle to be a part of team that isn’t functioning to its capacity. Make the changes.

If you’re not the one in charge, then approach the leader and offer to help.

Being a part of a healthy team makes all the difference!

Have you been a part of an unhealthy team? What were the traits you noticed that made it unhealthy? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Russ Cline
Russ Cline
Russ Cline has wide experience in church, mission, and global leadership. Beginning in the local church in Southern California, then moving to Ecuador for 16 years to be a part of launching three distinct organizations, Russ is now back in Southern California working with Extreme Response International in providing leadership coaching and organizational development to leaders around the world. Russ' passion is to come alongside organizations and to help them identify areas of growth, focus and change, resulting in greater impact and effectiveness. Russ graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Business and Christian Education and completed his graduate work in Organizational Development. He has been married for 28 years to Gina, and they have three children: Rheanna, Riley and Raylin.


  1. An alternative approach to teams:
    1) Keep team success subservient to goal achievement. If the team
    is not reaching its agreed goals, then dissolve the team, instead
    of wasting time, resources and personnel on team building.
    2) Keep teams small enough to permit strategic and tactical decisions.
    The bigger the team, the more complicated the relationships, and
    the greater the impasses.
    3) Agree in advance to dissolve the team in 3, 6, 9 or 12 months,
    regardless of outcomes. Then dissolve it, and form one or more new,
    smaller teams with workers who function well together.
    4) Team leaders invariably decide that they no longer need certain
    members, and will find reasons for getting rid of them, often dishonest
    reasons that sound convincing. Organizational brass should never
    be persuaded by a team leader’s recommendations. Just dissolve the
    whole team, and form new, littler ones, as needed.
    5) In an international setting, the optimal number of expatriates on a
    team with national members remains two (2).
    6) In a church planting effort, teams quickly become a hindrance, by
    inviting locals into the team, instead of making nationals leaders of
    a new work, from the start.
    7) In a church plant, team members who have a pastoral gift will always
    want to become the acting pastor, resenting team members who seem
    insubmissive to him.
    8) In a cross-cultural church plant, expatriate team members must stay
    out of the church, lest they brand it as foreign, importing foreign,
    ill-adapted methods, practices and beliefs.
    9) In missionary work, the purpose must always to plant new churches,
    never to prove somebody’s team building theory.
    10) Take the apostles missionary teams as your model: rarely more than
    two team members. Form new teams often. Try to partner with a
    cultural insider.

  2. Thank you for this insightful article. An unhealthy team can be seen by:
    1. There is no ownership of the decision that has been made even though it was decided by the team. In the meeting everyone seems agreed about it but when they out of the meeting room they argued one with another about the decision
    2. Rumors spread every where
    3. There is no clarity of the direction since everyone does not support each other’s role and authority
    4. People feel burnt out


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