3 Skills of Great Teams and Why Your Team Needs Them

Have you ever been part of a team that was bad at decision making? The team would debate and discuss and ramble on in never-ending meetings, but never make an actual decision. Or maybe decisions were rammed through from the top down, without giving anyone else a chance to contribute to the thinking behind the decision. Or it could be that individuals or the team made bad decisions, but there was never any follow-up or accountability, so bad decisions continued on, hurting the morale and bottom line of the organization.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are a million reasons why a team may be bad or ineffective at making good decisions. But if you look at teams that are effective and consistent in decision making, and therefore have higher levels of productivity and satisfaction, there are three broad characteristics and skills that you can expect to find in how the team operates. These are the three skills of an emotionally intelligent team. Before we get to the specifics, let me give you a working definition of emotional intelligence (EQ).

You’re probably familiar with IQ, loosely defined as your intelligence or your ability to reason and learn. IQ is generally thought to be static, meaning it won’t significantly change once you’ve become an adult. EQ, though not a new field of study, is quickly becoming a leading tool to develop leadership, improve employee engagement, and strength the fabric of relationships at work and at home. And the best news is you can always improve it, no matter your age.

Emotional intelligence is a person (or team’s) ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.

EQ works at the individual, team, and organizational level. It’s also a whole-life practice, meaning you can benefit personally and professionally from strengthened EQ. In fact, people who practice EQ skills in their personal life will experience greater growth than someone who only seeks to apply the skills in the office.

So what are the three skills of teams with high EQ?

Team Self-Awareness

  • The team is actively aware of how individuals feel, how the group feels, and uses positive behaviors to understand and support one another.

Team Self-Management

  • The team is able to efficiently make decisions, operate without always needing formal leadership in the room, and reinforces positive behaviors while holding one another accountable to shared values.

Team Empathy

  • The team works toward success for each individual and the team as a whole. This happens while also building mutually beneficial relationships with other teams or outside organizations, anticipating future needs that may arise.

For an in-depth look at EQ, I would recommend Daniel Goleman’s Primal Leadership.

EQ in teams matters for many reasons. Here are two.

  • Teams and organizations are made up of people. And people come with feelings, beliefs, assumptions, and needs. Not only do leaders need to address each of these elements individually, but the individuals themselves may not even be self-aware of how these things are affecting them and the team. Ignoring or disregarding the human element will limit the team’s potential. Digging in to the human side of a team is necessary and essential to producing great relationships and great work. Even the best strategy will fail unless you take time to develop the people who execute that strategy.
  • Improving relationships relies on developing trust, vulnerability, and communication. When those pieces are in place, it leads to more effective problem solving and decision making. Improved decision making creates clarity that leads to confidence and effectiveness. Improved effectiveness leads to better results, higher satisfaction, and higher engagement.

How is your team doing in these three areas — self-awareness, self-management, and empathy?

In a recent survey I took, over 50% of leaders reported that their biggest challenge in leading a team was having too much work and too few people.

You are probably swamped. And it’s likely you haven’t had time to think about the culture, emotional reality, or EQ of your team. I want to help you out with that.

I have a quick assessment that will give you a snapshot of where you team is today. It takes only 3–5 minutes to complete and it’s completely free. Download the free assessment today so you can help your team develop EQ and start thriving.


Adam Bouse Coaching offers personal and organizational development coaching. Leadership coaching, emotional intelligence assessments, and team training are just a few of the tools available. Get more info at www.adambouse.co or send me an email — hello@adambouse.co