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6 Key Communication Skills for a Winning Team


What does it take to create a winning team? The Philadelphia Eagles’ Doug Pederson and Nick Foles know the combination. After their improbable upset of the Patriots this Sunday night, Foles made an emotional speech to his teammates in which he concluded, “An individual makes a difference, but a team makes a miracle!” While it doesn’t take a miracle to create a winning team to lead a school or organization, there are some common traits that make a team successful. Hard work, discipline, and trust are critical traits, but one of the most important ingredients for success is team communication. These are some of the key ways that effective leaders develop great team communication.


  1. Meetings - Whether informal over Monday morning coffee, or formal meetings with agendas, meetings need to take place regularly, and both types serve a purpose. Monday morning meetings may include some personal connections about weekends, friends and family that help develop rapport and interpersonal connections before moving on to the topics of the work week, while formal meetings are a time to clearly convey expectations, acknowledge accomplishments and plan for challenges ahead.

  2. Horizontal and Vertical Communication – Communication needs to develop in ways beyond just a “top down” manner. Good communication takes place in multiple ways – 2-way communication that is horizontal, peer to peer, as well as vertical, leader to staff and staff to leader. It is critically important to team success that communication involves this 2-way feedback. Additionally, methods of communication are important. While e-mails may be efficient, they are not always the most effective way of conveying the type of communication that may be needed. Research has shown that the number of face to face communication encounters are a key predictor of organizational success.

  3. Clear Roles and Responsibilities – For a team to be efficient and effective, it is critical that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Everyone must know what they are to do and have the tools to accomplish it. If objectives are unclear and roles are confused, chaos can occur. Clear guidelines enable everyone to do their job in the most effective way possible.

  4. Build Trust with an Open Door – In order for effective 2-way communication to occur, the leader must build trust, respect and rapport with their peers and their staff. Trust among the leadership team sets the tone for the organization. An “open door” policy in which employees feel comfortable sharing honest communication can contribute to real organizational growth. Transparency from the top is a necessary element in building trust in the organization. While everything can’t be shared among all staff, keeping staff informed of key happenings, internal and external to the organization, is critical in fostering communication.

  5. Inspirational Leadership - Communication from the leader, that energizes and engages the internal and external stakeholders, and promotes mutual respect is also critical to effective team communication. Communication that engages also empowers employees in carrying out their roles for the success of the organization.

  6. Team Spirit – A shared purpose and history are also important to building a team atmosphere. Communication that engages the staff to recall where they came from and where they are headed, together, is a primary component of team building. Leadership teams that “share the story,” and invite all to participate, form cohesive staff structures that recognize the contributions and accomplishments of all their members.

While your organizations may not be competing on a national championship stage, we all want our organization to be the best that it can be. Doug Pederson and Nick Foles found a winning combination for their team, and good communication was one of the key elements of their success. Good communication on your leadership team will also ensure organizational success.