We had a really successful off-site Leadership Team retreat in Seattle last weekend with Terry Dillon. The intent of the session was to get away and spend some time working on our ability to function well as a team.

Our process for improving our team function was to spend time getting to know each other better in ways specific to how we each show up and interact within the team. We did this by sharing our answers to questions like "what has shaped who I am that is relevant to my career at Habanero?" and "what is it that I personally want to get out of my time here?"

It's pretty common knowledge (and well documented in books like the Five Dysfunctions of a Team) that a team's ability to drive results is dependent on a foundation of trust and shared belief within the group. The work we did last weekend is invaluable for building the connections we need within the team to be effective.

We are all about teams

Habanero is full of all sorts of teams, from project teams, to groups, to virtual teams associated with practices or special interests. You can even think of performance management pairings as a team (they hold all the same characteristics and their success is contingent on the same ingredients of trust, affinity, and respect).

Our ability as an organization to get the most out of these teams really comes down to what must be thought of as a core competency for Habanero: building high-performance teams. I think we've learned a great deal about this over the years, and we've steadily evolved our ability to build high-performance teams. We are fortunate that we are always able to start with the most important ingredient — fantastic, engaged people. But we can't simply rely on that; building good teams takes some thoughtful care and attention.

Terry has been engaged working with a variety of teams to date. One outcome we are keen to start to develop is more of a shared understanding of what high-performance teams are and how we can build them.

Hard work

One of the really interesting observations from the session that came out in all of our personal stories about our professional lives is that there appeared to be a real consistency in how we thought about hard work. There seemed to be a shared feeling of ideas like "most of the things I'm really proud of in life I worked really hard for" and "I really enjoy my work when I get a chance to really work hard at something I'm interested in." The conclusion to draw from this isn't that this is a group of masochists. Suggesting that it's a group of people that have had some great opportunities to work hard to achieve some important and meaningful results is more likely the case.

My belief is that this is more about the idea that hard work is a prerequisite to success. I personally believe that hard work is a prerequisite for really finding and exploiting your passion. Of course, hard work on the wrong stuff — the stuff you are not passionate about or that you don't see helping you out in the long-run — can feel like torture. I believe though, the sorts of high-performance people that populate Habanero intuitively know that when they have the right ingredients in place, the value proposition for hard work feels compellingly positive.