Moods, Trust, Ownership, Alignment, Performance were the 5 red flags we focused on in my previous blog. 

Here are 5 more red flags you also wish to attend to. Perhaps you are already seeing symptoms such as these in your teams.

1. Accountability : This is a commitment to fulfil responsibilities related to our role in the team. When there is no accountability, we see:

  • Team members distrust each other. Meetings, spent in pseudo clarifying misunderstandings.
  • Members sweep disappointments under the carpet so they can avoid conflict.
  • We coordinate with others as a matter of duty but not to actually solve a problem.

It is no joy talking to another team member who does not hold accountability. All they wish to do is pass the buck. Their responses never seem to answer our questions. They are in communication but without pointed answers. At times we can see they are casual or uncomfortable, but they are not forthcoming with responses. 

The conversation needed is:

  • Who does what and why?
  • Making our private chatter and personal assessment public in a respectful way.
  • Saying yes and making commitments only when we mean it. We take the trouble to manage those commitments.
  • We understand and acknowledge the value of each role.


2. Authority: This is about knowing and committing to the team’s structure of authority. Which roles have what degree of authority and why?

The team understands the processes followed when there is no consensus. 

A breakdown in this area looks like

  • Members talking above and over a leader’s decision.
  • Sabotage by escalations and game playing.
  • Fear of voicing one’s opinion.
  • Undermining the authority of another role holder.
  • Too many cafeteria and stairway conversations, which must happen in meeting rooms.

Situations, where a leader does not stand in their authority, can look strange. Conversations and decisions get dragged, as those who need to take a stand in a matter lets others do the speaking. Even worse is when a second in line speaks over and above the stand of a leader through escalations beyond their leader. This can be ugly.

The conversation that needs to happen:

  • Clarifying who can be in what conversation.
  • Being clear that the final call is the leader’s especially when there isn’t consensus.
  • Clarifying roles and actions from the lens of authority and power
  • Making clear that all feedback and opinions will be taken, but may or may not get acted upon and why.
  • Inviting open conversation between members and leaders and between team members.


3. Rigour : This is a commitment to the team’s standards and how we assess ourselves as a team. When this breaks down we find

  • Distrust and dissatisfaction expressed about one team towards another.
  • Poor deliverables from not understanding expectations.
  • Overall frustration in the working relationships within a team and between teams.
  • Complaints from internal teams and also customers about missed deadlines and poor quality.
  • Waste of resources, time and delays.

Rigour is about quality. Leaders hold the standard always and when we lack attention to this we find slippage and excuses. Teams get by knowing that shoddy work will get by. Good leaders know that quality and standards are a repeated conversation that happens several times in a team’s journey. 

The real conversation needed is:

  • Understanding and documenting the standards for different tasks.
  • Commitment to ask questions and clarify the conditions that satisfy another team or the client.
  • Confront poor timelines, quality and accountability.
  • Reassess competence when required.
  • Retrain and organise fresh learning for the team to get upskilled.

4. Navigation: A commitment to develop and carry on key practices of anticipation, planning, coordination, learning and innovation.

When there are breakdowns here we see:

  • Scope creep.
  • Poor resource utilisation and waste.
  • Poor conversations about conditions that satisfy teams, clients etc.
  • No process to manage disagreements, disharmony in a team.
  • No clear steps for execution.
  • Poor risk management.

The essential conversations are all of the above.

Teams need processes to check in as well as  a rhythm of conversations together. 

An open exchange of complaints, feedback and dissatisfaction is a healthy sign. Without this openness anticipation of challenges cannot happen. Even if there is risk people hide it out of insecurity and judgement from the other. 

 The other big place of breakdown is when a leader does not see learning, innovation and ‘going back to the drawing board’ as an important step in a team’s journey. Long standing teams especially need to have this focus so they keep creating processes for improvement and managing changing scenarios. 

5. The Future:  This is a commitment to the future of the company, the team, and people’s careers.

When this conversation is failing in teams we see:

  • People seeing their job as that- just a  job to come and go to.
  • Individuals are unable to see growth and development.
  • High attrition.
  • People are treated as resources – just a cog in the wheel.
  • People treat jobs as a stepping stone to the next place.
  • Not enough conversation on how the team will grow and change.
  • Not enough conversation on the outlook of business and the future.

Too  many times I have seen leaders paying attention to the label of the role and not the person in the role. An individual has dreams and aspirations around their role and their career. A leader needs to pay attention to this aspect and initiate conversations on the same. This leads to individuals knowing that their career matters to the leader as much as it does to them. This feeling of care from a leader ‘having  your back’ leads to a greater involvement from the team.  

The real conversation about the future is

  • Understanding what members of a team really care about. Why are they at work?
  • Developing and aligning cares of team and individual.
  • Proactive discussion on growth and learning.
  • A genuine interest in explaining the future of the team and organisation.
  • Roles aligned with people’s growth ideas, not just the organisation’s plans.

When taken care of, these 5 conversations take care of important aspects of teaming. When teams see leaders initiating these conversations it almost always provides a sense of security that the team is being led well and achieving their goals however audacious they are will be a sure possibility.   This sense of security means that teams go that extra mile with owning their goals. Teams come in to work everyday knowing that there is space for their whole selves. Their dreams, aspirations and their opinions matter. This is how teams begin thriving while holding a mood of ambition. 

Which real conversation will you have today?

Sailaja Manacha
Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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