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3 reasons why teams fail

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • February 15, 2013

3 reasons why teams fail


I’ve just finished a short executive education course during which we had the obligatory team project, and having survived relatively unscathed I have some observations on why teams fail (MBA’s are famous for the unhappiness caused by bad team combinations!)


1.             Leadership


Either the leadership is weak or there is no leadership. Both lead to stalling. Someone must take charge, or the movie will have an unhappy ending. It’s difficult to elect a leader, but that should be the first objective of the group.


2.             Language


If people are being forced to collaborate they need a common language, both linguistically and technically. A Spaniard and a Zulu need a common language in order to work together, for example: English. More importantly, they must be technically literate in that language. Competence in casual conversation does not equate to competence in technical debate.


3.             EQ


Chemistry in a group boils down to the emotional intelligence and self-awareness of the individual members of the group. If one of the members is deficient in either of these attributes, the rest of the group requires a high EQ to avoid social awkwardness.


If more than one member of the team is deficient, the project will disintegrate into anarchy as these members do not possess the EQ needed for the tolerance and compromise required for one another, with the inevitable result being social conflict.