How to Build a Dynamic Team: Fostering Effective Team Dynamics.

I was recently asked to write this piece on the nature and value of dynamic teams and when I sat down to write it, a number of words and phrases started to leap out of my mud-mapping brain;

  • agile teams
  • tribes
  • high performing
  • the A-team
  • team cohesion
  • synergies, collaboration
  • flat- structures.

We can add dynamic collaboration and whatever other phrase you think fits. But you get my drift. We have, for want of a better phrase, been to this rodeo before.

The Secret Sauce of Dynamic Teams

There is no deep mystery, secret sauce or witchcraft to creating a “team” that displays a level of cohesion, drive and candour that helps create an environment where failure is not feared, rather where testing and failing are expected and therefore space is made for it. Failure is expected – if you are not failing, you are not learning and if you are not learning, then you aren’t pushing yourself, your team, and the company forward. But yes, these are just words.

Because for all the talk about candour or transparency in the workplace and pulling brilliant minds together for great outcomes, it often has mixed results. And in my experience the mixed results are from not having fully committed to the dynamic team model. Think of all the “innovation” projects we start in the office and never get to finish, or the “half-baked” commitments that can be made in a business unit, where we simply stop ourselves from going all the way, because we are hesitant to share information or be vulnerable when it comes to our thoughts in the office environment.

What Exactly is a Dynamic Team? 

A dynamic team is where individuals with diverse skills, backgrounds, and perspectives unite to achieve common goals. Dynamic teams can be compared to an orchestra, where each sound or instrument comes together to create a cohesive whole. Similarly in dynamic teams, every member's expertise, ideas, and efforts come together to drive the team forward towards their objectives. 

What sets a dynamic team apart is its adaptability and collaborative spirit. It thrives on open communication channels, where ideas flow freely, team members can operate without fear of failure, and constructive discussions pave the way for innovative solutions.By fostering an environment where members feel supported to take calculated risks and learn from setbacks, team members can feel free to explore uncharted territories, experiment with novel ideas, and ultimately achieve greater heights collectively.

In business settings, a dynamic team operates as a cohesive unit, leveraging individual strengths to complement one another. In dynamic teams it's not merely about working together; it's about leveraging collective talents to solve intricate problems, devise strategies, and propel the organisation toward sustained growth and success.

Ultimately dynamic teams foster a culture of creativity and resilience, enabling the team to navigate complexities, overcome challenges, and seize opportunities effectively.

Building a Dynamic Team

My starting point for a successful “dynamic team” is that you have to commit 100% to the development of what it takes to build your squad. Another big mistake we can often see, when we think we are creating a dynamic team, is that we create a team that brings us comfort and a team that is loyal and creates a boundary. This often happens when a new leader enters an organisation. We’ve all been part of a company or a business unit that when a new leader comes in, so does a steady stream of new “talent”. Talent that’s worked with the new leader before. Talent that acts as the eyes and ears of the new leader. This is not the A-team, these are cleaners. A team sent in to assess who stays and who goes.

In my experience the best example I can provide of what a “dynamic team” is that of the ‘Squad Model’. A squad in common parlance is a group of people pulled together for a critical mission. We might identify them as a sports team or even a team with a military focus [special forces]. It is a team made up of different people with different skill-sets, strengths and styles and they only come together for the specific assignment - once the assignment is completed, the team goes back to their “day jobs”.  As marketing thought leader Seth Godin describes a squad/tribe - "A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea." Building a dynamic team, squad, or tribe requires a specific environment and attidue which I'll provide more information on below: 

Creating The Ideal Environment to Build your Squad or Tribe

I’ll go further than Seth Godin's description and explain why we have to get out of our own way in order to ensure our squad is able to deliver:

  1. Permission - Building a culture of permission doesn’t mean a culture lacking structure or accountability, but one that prioritises autonomy and individual responsibility to create an environment where dynamic teams can thrive. t Accept that at different times throughout the year, different groups of people will be pulled together to execute on a unique deliverable. Individuals will move in and out of organised teams. This culture of permission encourages a sense of ownership and accountability among team members, leading to increased engagement and commitment towards collective goals, key features of dynamic teams.
  2. Variety & Difference [not one and the same] – the best squads, might have a common goal to unite them, but they come from different departments and bring different capabilities to the newly formed squad. They also bring diversity of thought through their different lived experiences; be that through their profession or otherwise. Exposure to diverse perspectives prepares the team to navigate a variety of situations and markets, fostering effective team dynamics that enable the squad to thrive amidst change and uncertainty.
  3. Celebrate the wins….and as Netflix would say ‘sunshine the failure’ – Dynamic teams ensure the wins are noted, acknowledged and celebrated. They also ensure they take what knowledge they can from them and ensure its recorded so it can be replicated. Perhaps more importantly though, they talk about what went wrong, openly. This means being prepared to be vulnerable in your squad and in the broader organisation. If an idea didn’t work, why didn’t it? Share what was learnt, do not file it away never to be discussed again. Understanding how to deal with failure and the fear of failure is usually one of the first steps toward establishing effective team dynamics. 
  4. Cohesion – Dynamic teams rally behind each other, there is a common goal that binds them together, and they know that they get to the end-point only if they have each other’s back. This common goal binds them together, emphasising the important of mutual support. Even amids disagreements, dynamic teams prioritise unity and cohesion. Rather than viewing disagreements as derailing obstacles, dynamic teams perceive them as opportunities to deconstruct and reconstruct ideas for improvement. Within dynamic teams, there's an inclusive space for every member, fostering an environment where diverse ideas can be tested. This inclusive environment singificantly contributes to fostering effective team dynamics within a squad or tribe. 
  5. Straight-talking – Dynamic teams understand that the best outcomes come from creating an environment where candour or straight-talking is encouraged. It not only saves time and expedites discussion, it also ensures hierarchy doesn’t get in the way of ideas, and ideas being challenged, fostering effective team dynamics that promote innovation and open dialogue.
  6. Finally start small – identify a project that needs a variety of talents, but that can move forward without significant impact or disruption. The first squad is often the first test for the conditions we’ve noted here as being critical to setting up this squad or dynamic team. Use it as an opportunity for  your company or business unit to test their appetite for this new way of engaging team members to deliver outcomes. Because if you can’t get the foundations right, then go back to paragraph 2 and my point about half-baked.

How to Lead a Dynamic Team 

Having all the elements for a dynamic team, doesn’t amount to much without an effective leader. Leading a dynamic team isn't just about holding a position; it's about fostering an environment that nurtures the collective potential and innovation of the team and maintaining effective team dynamics. 

The essence of leading a dynamic team lies in understanding that it's more than just overseeing tasks. It's about creating a space where individual voices are not only heard but valued—a leader that listens actively, encourages diverse perspectives, and respects the strengths each member brings to the table.

An effective leader in a dynamic team doesn't wield authority but empowers the team. They provide the necessary support, resources, and freedom for team members to take risks and experiment without fear of repercussions. This atmosphere of trust and autonomy breeds ownership, fueling creativity and initiative.

However, leadership within a dynamic team is an evolving journey, not a fixed destination. It demands continual self-reflection, a readiness to learn, and adaptability. Effective leaders cultivate an environment where continuous improvement is encouraged, embracing change to propel the team towards ongoing growth and success.

In essence, leading a dynamic team requires more than just managerial skills; it necessitates an environment of trust, empowerment, and adaptability. 

Be Courageous to Create

In a year’s time, there will be a new phrase bandied about that means more or less the same thing as dynamic teams, squads or tribes. The point here is not so much the team itself, but whether the business or the leader of the business has the courage to open up the business environment for dynamic teams to exist alongside the 'Business As Usual' environment. The outcomes can be astonishing - not just in terms of the work product, but in observing the interaction and evolution of teamwork within the organisation itself. It provides an opportunity for development for your team, great outcomes for the organisation and an environment where knowledge sharing and ideation are part of the fabric or DNA of the organisation.

Natasha Norton