What makes a good team?

I have worked in many team environments throughout my career. Working in a consulting role, I have regularly worked with different teams, both internally and externally to my employer. Some teams I have worked with for a very short time (days), and other teams, I have worked with for longer periods (years).

Throughout my career, several teams have stood out. For those teams, it was the same factors that were present in all of them that enabled us to work together in a manner that allowed us to bring out the best of our abilities and to be successful.

What were those attributes? In a nutshell, the attributes that proved themselves time and again were the following:

  1. Passion
  2. Ability to have fun yet work hard
  3. Reliability
  4. Communication
  5. Helpful
  6. Knowledge
  7. Empathy
  8. Motivated

In more detail, the attributes included:


Passionate people tend to love what they do and take pride in their work. Passionate people don’t mind change and are always happy to grow and develop their skills and knowledge.

Working with people that had a similar passionate mindset always came with a very positive attitude to the team. Everyone on the team being passionate about what they were doing always paved ways for great things to happen.

Ability to have fun yet work hard

Some projects can have incredibly tough deadlines. The pressure and the stress involved in some projects can be immense, which is why having the ability to have fun yet work hard is so important. To this day, I still cherish a project team that I worked with (for over a  year and a half). At times we were fueled mostly by coffee. We worked incredibly hard, but there was also times where we could laugh and have fun. The fun moments made everything else enjoyable. Working incredibly hard was totally fine because you were working with people you really liked and had fun with. Of all the teams I have worked with, this particular team, let’s call them ‘Team Fun’, will probably always be my favourite.


Working with people you know will be there when you need them is paramount to your success. Being able to rely on your team members reduces stress, as you don’t have to take on more work, or work blindly while they are not available. Thankfully, most of the teams I have been on, I worked with people I could rely on to be there whenever needed. The teams I have worked on that have had people I couldn’t rely on, led to more stress and delays in delivering work. Reliability is a must for team performance and successful outcomes.


It has never been so easy to be able to communicate with everyone. The way people communicate is always improving, whether it is in person, email, phone, or chatting. Communicating regularly with your team is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with any regular updates or changes that might be going on.


I read recently in an article (I forget which one) that being helpful isn’t a good trait to have. I beg to differ. You can have a team member that is passionate, fun to work with, reliable and communicates well, but lacks the knowledge needed to get the job done. Having someone on the team (or having a team of helpful people), will ensure that the knowledge is shared among everyone.


When I first started as a consultant, I was blown away by how incredibly smart everyone was that I worked with. The information that my workmates knew on any particular topic was immense. At first it was almost overwhelming to be around such brilliant people, and then I became inspired by it. Acquiring knowledge isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. I have learnt that learning consistently over time is better than investing time and effort into short intense bursts. Working with people that know a lot is inspirational. It reminds me daily that you can never learn too much or that you are never too old to learn new things. Technology is always changing, and with that comes the need to learn, in order to keep up.


Sometimes bad things happen. Working for a long time on a project, or within a team, chances are that someone (or several people) will have bad things happen personally, that could affect their daily work. Being empathetic means being able to understand what the person is going through, or if not understanding, allowing them the chance for them to find their feet when they need help the most. Being in a great team, means that sometimes other team members may have to work harder in order to help someone through their rough patch. Additionally, people starting in a new environment may feel nervous or shy. Being empathetic means understanding what they are going through and allowing them time to adjust so that they too can fit in and feel relaxed and comfortable in their environment.


Motivation affects so many aspects of a team, and is what drives a person to do well. Great teams that I have had the pleasure to work with, have all been motivated to be successful, this has definitely been the case since working as a consultant. Motivation, like passion, has its own level of energy that allows people to get things done. Motivated people want to come to work in the morning and they want to get things done.


All of the above traits are not only linked to a specific team, but can also be found (if you’re lucky enough), within a company culture. Working with positive people is incredibly inspiring. We are at work for a significant time of our days. Being around people that inspire and cultivate success is a rewarding way to spend your time. I have been fortunate to work with amazing people. Hopefully as you are reading this article, you are working within a positive team too. What makes a great team for you? Were the attributes the same for you? Or were there other attributes within your team that were not listed? If there were, let me know. I would love to hear them. I would also love to hear from you about successful teams you have had the pleasure to work with.


Image courtesy of Brock Sperryn