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Three traits of teams that endure to win the big races – StartupSmart

Melbourne is gearing up for the race that stops the nation – all eyes will be on the track as people cheer the horses and jockeys across the finish line.


Watching the race, the focus is often on what’s happening in the moment, the excitement as the horses jostle for first place.  We are less focused on what it took to get the jockey and the horses to the starting line as we are about who will cross the finish line first.


It takes an enormous amount of preparation both physically and emotionally to earn a place in big races, like the Melbourne Cup. The preparation begins years prior to the actual race by a larger team that horse and jockey are just a part of.


The larger team make sure the horse and jockey are cared for holistically so they can be fit to run another day.


Teams that are race-fit and able to race another day invest in:


Team fitness

Research conducted by Team Coaching International shows that when teams focus on building capability in these seven productivity strengths: Team Leadership; resources; decision-making; proactivity; accountability; goals & strategy; and alignment combined with the following positivity strengths: trust; respect; camaraderie; communication; constructive interaction, values diversity and optimism they reach sustainable high performance.


Working on the team

Teams today are juggling multiple priorities, tight deadlines and increasing workloads making it easy to fall into the trap of staying on the race track in order to get things done. This leads to exhaustion, declining processes and strained relationships as team interactions become transactional, meetings become a series of ticking off to do’s with no reserve in the team tank for tolerance or goodwill when tension impacts relationships.


Teams who consistently operate as a high-performing unit regularly invest in getting off the track, they invest in looking at how they operate as a team across all of the 14 factors above and they benefit from the healthy reserve they have built from doing so.




Factoring in ‘downtime’ after a big run is a vital factor in sustaining teams to run the big races when required. Teams who consistently perform well have processes in place to ensure that the same team members are not always running at marathon speed.  They have a lens on sustainability, personal wellbeing and create time to connect and reconnect together as a team of people.


Schedule some time today to talk about how your team operates. Look at what’s working and what’s not working for your team.


Below are some questions to help your team ignite a conversation once off the track:


  • Which of the 14 Strengths does your team need to invest in? Rate each strength from 0 – 9.  Use this to ignite a conversation and to discuss strategies for building these areas.
  • Assess the last three team meetings for insight into how you run together as a team. Is the focus balanced between focusing on productivity (the things that need to get done) as well as team positivity (the way you show up together)?
  • Create team champions.  Team members that champion working on the team, who become a voice in the team system to call out when the team needs to get off the track and invest time to focus on specific areas of productivity and positivity.  It’s helpful when team members volunteer to become a voice for championing areas that they feel strongly about, for example you may have a champion for celebration and fun or a champion for calling out that a decision now requires driving.


Pollyanna Lenkic is an author, coach, and speaker who works with leading organisations. Her structured approach delivers an uplift of 25% in team performance. To work with Pollyanna go to her website.


This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

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