Two Critical Skills for Team Success

Bob Wiesner | February 6, 2018

Featured Image

The importance of learning and development in today’s organizations doesn’t need a lengthy explanation. Leaders seem to get it.

The challenge for leaders is this: often there’s not nearly enough money to spend on training and not nearly enough time available for workers to attend training. So setting priorities and carefully selecting solutions are more important than ever.

McKinsey published this great article late in 2017 – “Putting lifelong learning on the CEO agenda.”   There are a ton of important points in it – too many for this post. This stands out relative to the issue posed above – what should a company’s training priorities be?

Putting hard skills aside for the moment, since that training is going to happen one way or another, the authors support my perspective that two soft skills should be a priority for training in almost any firm: Collaboration and Mindset.

Collaboration is a set of specific behaviors

More than ever, companies rely on teams for innovations and outputs. Those teams are larger and more dynamic (with members rapidly coming and going), with highly specialized areas of expertise. And the pressure to deliver is great. All these factors make it harder to work together. Even when successful outputs are achieved, the processes that got there might have been difficult or even painful.

Training in Collaboration can help fix that. There are well defined behaviors that highly collaborative teams engage in. These behaviors contrast with those of poorly collaborative teams. It’s also been clear since the research in the 1960’s by Bruce Tuckman that teams go through predictable, dynamic stages as they learn to work together. Being able to recognize and control these stages will lead to higher levels of team success. All available through training in Collaboration.

Growth Mindset drives team success

The McKinsey article goes on to place very high importance in areas of empathy and “meaning making.” People who are open at understanding the motivations and perspectives of others will be better team members. And people who can find purpose and intrinsic motivation in their work, are happier, better engaged, better teammates, and more successful. Mindset training can make a huge difference here.

People with a Growth Mindset are open to understanding the feelings and perspectives of others. They’re also more willing to form closer, more effective bonds with others. The Growth Mindset, coupled with resiliency and grit, helps workers find purpose in what they do, even in the toughest times.

Mindset isn’t the easiest soft skill to train. But it probably yields the best return on training dollars. By pointing out current mindsets, and providing alternatives, workers can choose to be more in the Growth Mindset. It’s apparent that, in many cases, workers in teams don’t need new hard skills. They need a new Mindset to direct them apply those hard skills in a more effective way.

With limited funding but maximum need, training in the areas of Collaboration and Mindset can yield outstanding ROI.


WCG has workshops in both Collaboration and Mindset that are effective in elevating team performance.

Collaboration is designed for team leaders, organization leaders, and project managers. Building from Tuckman’s principles, it offers state-of-the-art examples of behaviors and activities that distinguish high-performing, collaborative teams from those that fail to deliver. An important and exciting feature of the workshop is the opportunity for team leaders to identify the best “rules of engagement” that will lift the performance of their own teams.

Mindset is built for all organization contributors.  It’s especially powerful for managers and leaders as well as for younger professionals. (There are tailored versions of the workshop built for specific levels in your company.) Organized around principles identified by Carol Dweck in “Mindset” and Angela Duckworth in “Grit,” the coolest element of the workshop is the opportunity for participants to better understand – and then adjust – their own mindsets. In the manager version, we discuss the techniques for diagnosing the mindsets of team members, and guiding them to adopt growth mindsets more frequently.

Facing similar challenges? Give us a shout at




Get Winning Ways

A twice-monthly e-newsletter focused on ideas to grow revenue and engage your best people.
Scroll Up