You’ve been told that your team is only as good as it’s weakest link.
Actually, the most important person on your team and the biggest factor in its success is its best performer (or, ‘extra-miler’), according to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Researchers looked into the performance of eighty-seven teams (averaging seven members each) in a Chinese petrochemical company. The best indicators of success were ‘key processes’ like agreeing on minimum working standards, keeping tabs on each other’s progress, balancing each other’s workloads, and having the capacity to help each other when necessary. So, researchers had each team member rate their other teammates on things that might influence these key processes, like willingness to help, expression of ideas and concerns (which they called ‘voice’), how much they coordinated with other team members, and so on.
It’s certainly a good thing when all team-members score high on things like helping and voice, but: once researchers took into account the score of a team’s stand-out helper, they could basically throw out the rest of the team’s scores. The same was true of the team’s strongest voice. The score of a team’s extra-miler was a good predictor of how successful a team would be overall.
One other thing was pretty important: how much each team-member was in contact with the extra-miler. If the extra-miler on the team tended to work alone, the team tended to be less successful. But if the extra-miler was in constant contact with the rest of the team, success rose.
If you aren’t the extra-miler on your team, figure out who is and make sure you’re in constant contact. It wouldn’t hurt if that extra-miler also had some knowledge of each team member’s specialization, too.
And if you are the team’s extra-miler, it’s time to reach out and coordinate more with your team. After all, they’re relying on you.