The building blocks for high performing teams are not a mystery. Trust, courage, commitment, accountability and focus are all critical. And I would put trust first. It is the foundation for each of the others.
For a quick example, look at the Beach Volleyball teams we have seen at the Olympic Games. Two person teams are a great example for team work because there is so little room for variance. These teams demonstrate all of the capacities above, but most of all trust. Based on their interaction, you could not tell whether they have just had an ace serve rammed down their throat or spiked a kill shot for a point. In victory or defeat, there is no blame, no second guessing and no hot-dogging for attention. They have had their conflict in the development of strategy and preparations, no doubt. But on the court, nothing happens by or to a single member of that team. Each trusts that their partner is giving their all and they operate at light speed as parts of a larger whole.
Take a moment this mid-week to imagine how your department would operate with that level of trust and teamwork. Trust of course must be earned. How would your organization perform if everyone were as focused, committed, accountable, courageous and trustworthy as those teams in the sand at Beijing? More to the point, What is the cost in productivity of tolerating second guessing, back biting, and finger pointing in any team or department?