In his book, \u201cThe 5 dysfunctions of a team\u201d, noted author Patrick Lencioni makes a very pertinent observation, \u201c"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare".\r\n\r\nAn increasing number of corporates is slowly arriving upon the same conclusion. In an environment, where competition is tough, stakes are high & change is a constant, being equipped with teams that can fight against all odds and then go the extra mile is increasingly being seen as a key differentiator. While stories of \u201cDream Teams\u201d abound in sports \u2013 similar stories in the corporate world are few and far between. We have documented a few such teams in our earlier posts where we talked about the team behind skunkworks, Edison\u2019s famous Muckers & the Blue Angels from the U.S Navy.\r\n\r\nClearly, it isn\u2019t easy to make a \u2018Dream Team\u2019 (Probably that is why it is called a Dream Team). So, what are the magic ingredients that these teams have, that others struggle to discover?\r\n\r\nHere are five such ingredients, in our opinion:\r\n\r\n \tUnequivocal Trust\r\nThe foundation of every great team is built on this elusive element. Why is it that we find it so difficult to \u201cgive trust\u201d? \u00a0Why is it that we expect others to \u201cearn it\u201d first? Maybe it\u2019s a self-defense mechanism, maybe it\u2019s our hyper-competitiveness that gets in the way?When we refer to trust here, it is trust that is based on sharing our vulnerabilities with each other. In essence it means a team member being able to share this strengths, weaknesses, fears and hopes \u2013 without worrying too much about being judged. It usually happens only in families \u2013 we have heard being said \u2013 but it does happen in the dream teams too.\u00a0\u00a0 What this does really is to make people in a team feel comfortable in their own skin \u2013 but as in families, so in teams \u2013 trust does not develop overnight. As Steven Covey mentions in his book \u2018The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People\u2019,\u00a0"Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience..."A team that attains a deeper level of trust, can clearly experience a happy ambience where team members feel much more appreciated & valued. This helps the team to feel safe while sharing real feedback to improve the efficiency of the team. Here fear of conflicts will not bother any of the members, as there is enough of an emotional bank balance to take care of the skirmishes.This truly is the first step in the journey to becoming a \u2018Dream Team\u2019\r\n\r\n\r\n \tA Burning Passion\r\nWhat differentiates a dream team from a fairly good one, is its burning passion to not just do a good job, but to excel and outperform. Think of the Australian cricket team under Steve Waugh or the Windies team under Clive Lloyd \u2013 those were teams that not just wanted to win, they wanted to dominate.Its rightly said that \u201cGood enough is the enemy of the best\u201d. When we settle for \u201cgood enough\u201d, we deny ourselves the opportunity to go for and achieve \u201cthe best\u201d. But how many of us in our corporate lives, can put our hand on our heart and say. \u201cWe are truly passionate about the work we do?\u201d Unfortunately, \u201cpassion\u201d is a word that we reserve for the work we do \u201coutside of work\u201d. Like saying, \u201cI am passionate about cars\u201d, or dirt biking or cricket. But passionate about \u201cthe work I do every day?\u201d, well let\u2019s just say \u2013 that\u2019s a rarity.Passion at work is all about being so possessed about doing a fantastic job, that anything lesser seems unacceptable. The best thing about passion though is that it is contagious. A few passionate team members can often light up a whole team.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tA Shared Vision\r\nBuilding a level of trust and lighting the passion of the members makes for a heady mix. But a bursting stream of water, needs to be channelized in a clear direction for it to be useful \u2013 else it risks dissipating all its energy very soon. So also in teams, where different team members bring in their own unique expertise & experiences. Without a clear direction such a team risks running in multiple directions and soon dissipate itself. What unifies such a team is a clear shared vision or a common goal for the future.A shared vision often helps teams to rise above petty silos and truly collaborate towards achieving a larger than life goal. John F Kennedys vision of \u201cPutting\u00a0 a man on the moon and returning him safely, by the end of the decade\u201d, galvanized a whole nation. This bigger picture leads teams to develop a shared belief which propels it towards immense growth.A shared destiny spawns collaboration in dream teams that go on to minimize individuals\u2019 weaknesses & maximize the Team\u2019s strengths. It truly helps make one plus one equal three.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tCommunicate, Communicate & Communicate some more\r\nThe biggest derailer for team work is often a very simple thing \u2013 \u201ccommunication\u201d or rather the lack of it. A team that communicates less is often prone to misunderstandings that can quickly deteriorate to spats that lead up to an unhealthy atmosphere.The important thing about good communication in a dream team is that:\r\n\r\n\r\n \tIt is two way \u2013 which means it\u2019s a \u201cconversation\u201d or \u201cdebate\u201d and never a diktat\r\n \tIt makes clear the norms within the team. What are the team\u2019s \u2013 \u201cMust always do\u2019s\u201d and \u201cMust never do\u2019s\u201d\r\n \tIt cuts out surprises for everyone in the team, so everyone knows what to expect from everyone else within the team at all timesCommunication has the power to improve both the formal & the informal relationships within teams. It also helps members to minimize mistakes, confusions & repetitions of work. \u00a0In addition, cheering on one another lifts the morale of teams in the toughest of times.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tA Bias for Fun\r\nWhenever I think about any successful team, I remember one famous quote: Teams that laugh together, Stay together. Look at any team that seems to be doing really well \u2013 a striking thing you will notice is how easily the conversations and the laughs flow between the members. However, it is easier said than done. Fun and laughter cannot be forced. It happens only when there is a fair amount of trust within team members. It happens when team members feel the security & freedom to let their hair down.A team that has fun together, builds a healthy bank of memories that helps create a strong bond that often helps team mates through tough times. It also builds a positive atmosphere in the team where people lower their guards, are more open to feedbacks & to criticisms too. Such an atmosphere creates a magnetic effect for new ideas and approaches that breeds further freshness within the team.\r\n\r\nDream teams don\u2019t just happen naturally \u2013 or as a matter of chance. It surely takes a lot of effort, time & dedication to build one. However, the good news is that \u201cDream teams\u201d are not born that way either. It takes positive intent and awareness for a team to metamorphise into a \u201cDream Team\u201d.\r\n\r\nHow many of these ingredients does your team have? Do you think your team can become a \u2018Dream Team\u2019? Do share your thoughts with us.