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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Feb 26, 2021

Today, Dan Neumann and Sam Falco are exploring the topic of teams — and not just Scrum teams, but all teams.


As a leader, it can be difficult to manage many lines of communication especially in larger teams. In Dan and Sam’s conversation, they discuss The Tuckman Model as a thinking framework on how to nurture high-performing teams. From forming to storming to norming and performing, The Tuckman Model lays out the manner in which a leader should engage with teams to become more effective than ever before.


Tune in for today’s episode to find out which strategies you can put into play right now to build, lead, and maintain better teams!


“A team has shared success or failure. One person can’t succeed [while] another person fails if you’re an actual team. You win or you lose together.” — Sam Falco


Key Takeaways

What is a team?

A handful of people who are all working toward a common goal/objective and are collaborating/working together

A team has shared success and failure; You win or you lose together

Challenges with larger teams:

They tend to get siloed; i.e., a bunch of people is working individually or smaller teams are formed within the larger team and communication is lost

With a large group, even with the best intentions, someone gets left out (i.e. someone forgets to tell someone something or is unaware that someone hasn’t heard certain information yet)

Increments can be missed if you’re not collaborating and communicating as a team

How to (and how not to) form a team:

The best teams self-select (people with a stake in the project are much more motivated) 

If you select random people and put them together in a team they may not function that well together

In “The Tuckman Model,” Bruce Tuckman suggests that you need four stages (form, storm, norm, and perform) to tackle tough problems and deliver results as a team

Leadership strategies for forming teams (Tuckman’s “forming” phase):

It’s important to create a shared vision once a team is formed and then actively move towards fostering connections through being vulnerable and demonstrating vulnerability through group formation activities

As a leader, it is your duty to pick the team with purpose; not availability

If you’re stuck in the “form” stage, it damages the ability of team members to form the connections that are necessary for teamwork

Make sure that the team develops a shared mental image of what their team is like (you could start with something as simple as picking a team name)

Leadership strategies for addressing conflict within teams (Tuckman’s “storming” phase):

Conflict is not inherently negative but many people have never experienced healthy conflict so it is important to look for ways to build trust

As a leader, you have to transition to a “coaching” role when your teams are in a storming phase by helping them develop mutual trust, navigate organizational impediments and conflict, and discussing team working agreements that you can refer to

Storming often happens when it is not clear how the team makes decisions (so it is important to find clarity on this early on)

Try out the “7 Levels in Delegation Poker Group” activity, linked below

Leadership strategies during a team’s “norming” phase:

In this phase, teams identify common goals and work toward these common goals with standards and commitment

The leader’s role shifts more to empowering their team and getting feedback

In this phase, a leader should allow for leadership to emerge within the team (and not being the leader all the time)

It’s important to find the balance in contributing and knowing when to allow the team to get somewhere on their own

In this stage, it is crucial to maintain the trust that you built during the “forming” and “storming” phases

Leadership strategies during a team’s “performing” phase:

Once there’s trust and the team can engage in healthy conflict, it is important to focus on goals and new areas that will benefit the team and business

Once team members can hold each other accountable in a healthy way then you can established shared goals, make a commitment to these shared goals, and achieve these shared goals as a team

After accountability is established, improvement can be built upon that

Characteristics of a good leader:

They help a team make their decisions

They help a team develop mutual trust

They identify what behaviors of The Tuckman Model the team is exhibiting and then appropriately engage with the team members

They consciously build their team and find techniques that work best with them


Mentioned in this Episode:

Lines of Communication (Image)

Esther Derby
Bruce Tuckman — The Tuckman Model

7 Levels in Delegation Poker Group Activity

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 117: “Don’t Get Your Agile Shorts in a Knot”

Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini


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