Executive Education

The 4 elements that make up the ecosystem of a team

When talking about the ecosystem of a team, it’s important to understand the context of how teams come into existence. All teams operate in an organizational context: an ecosystem of interdependent elements which, when in sync, combine to benefit all stakeholders. It’s a broader system that brings relevance to why the team exists. There are four interdependent elements to a team’s context: 

  1. Outside
    Outside refers to the external stakeholders (those whom the team exists to serve). These stakeholder groups are varied and, more often than not, their interests, expectations and aspirations are assumed by team members.

    What stakeholders require from the team (now and in the future) is fundamental in shaping and structuring the team’s purpose, how team members commit to work together, and for what they hold themselves individually and collectively accountable to achieve. Where stakeholders’ expectations are either assumed or misunderstood, teams flounder because members default to operating as a group of individuals working independently to achieve their own objectives.

    High performing teams not only focus on their stakeholders’ current challenges but anticipate their future requirements. As Peter Hawkins wrote in Leadership Team Coaching, ‘Most teams work from “the past forward” trying to address current problems that have arisen from the past. More important is that teams focus “future-back” and focus on what their current and “not-yet” customers and stakeholders need different from them in the future.’ 

  2. Strategy
    Strategy represents the future that the team is commissioned to bring about. The organisational strategy aligns stakeholders’ expectations of what success looks like with the team’s understanding and commitment of what it will undertake to meet these expectations.

    The organisational strategy defines the ‘end in mind’ that team members seek and strive to achieve. It represents the new possibilities and the unique value proposition that differentiates it from external competition.

    Without a clear organisational strategy, teams risk turning their attention and action to what is most urgent rather than most important. Without a clear organisational strategy, matters of urgency and importance merge to mean and be the same.

  3. Inside
    Inside refers to the internal quality of the working relationships among the team members. Teams rise and fall based on the quality of their working relationships, and how they show up and relate when teaming together and apart. A team’s ‘way of being’ together profoundly impacts its ‘way of doing’ together.

    Teams who flourish do so because they invest time and effort in developing their interpersonal relationships. They recognise and accept that to get better results, they first need to develop better relationships together.  In high performing teams, better relationships precede better results.

  4. Execution
    Execution refers to how team members coordinate action by securing levels of cooperation and commitment to achieve what is most important. Execution at its essence is about the effectiveness of the requests team members make of others and the quality and trust they place in the commitments from others. But most importantly, execution is about team members accepting responsibility and holding themselves accountable to deliver on their promises and offers, and to acknowledge accomplishments by others once the conditions for success have been satisfactorily met.

Execution is about action: creating the desired future by getting things done.

Edited extract from Team Better Together: 5 disciplines of high performing teams by Bernard Desmidt.
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Bernard Desmidt
Bernard Desmidt, author of Team Better Together, is a renowned leadership coach, facilitator, and trainer. As a team coach, his expertise is in helping teams transition to become more collaborative, high-performing teams so they access more of their collective capacity and capability to achieve the greatest things possible.


Bernard Desmidt is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.