Strong teams are much more than the sum of their parts. While individuals each have their unique strengths and weaknesses, working in teams allows the strengths of each individual to be leveraged and their weaknesses to be protected.

In my own businesses and in those of my clients, we’ve been able to accomplish big things by utilizing the power of teamwork. I’ve seen innovation take place at break-neck speed thanks to the combined brilliance of the team members. I’ve seen managers turn their departments around by changing the mindset from one of individualism to one of teamwork and cohesion. I’ve seen problems that have held businesses back for years overcome by focused teamwork.

Strong teams are the foundation of business success—I’ve seen this proven time and time again over the years.

But it is not enough to simply throw a group of people together and hand them an assignment.

For one thing, size matters. I have found that, both in my own businesses and in the businesses that my clients own, that teams of 3-6 people are typically far more effective than larger teams. This is the case for a number of reasons:

  • Smaller teams mean more accountability. No team member can “blend into the shadows” on a small team.
  • Smaller teams mean more efficiency. There is less time spent bickering and deciding on a course of action, but the benefits of multiple viewpoints and perspectives still apply.

  • Smaller teams ensure contribution from every member. In groups of ten, twelve, or twenty, it’s common for a few outspoken members to dominate the conversation and the decision-making process. Small teams ensure that introverts feel comfortable as well—and that they are able to add value.

Granted there are certain situations that call for more manpower, but in general smaller teams are the route to pursue.

Size is only an element of the question, however. If you want results from your teams, you need to empower them. That means:

  • Don’t paralyze them by requiring that you sign off on every single decision. If you trust your people, give them the autonomy they need to be effective. If you don’t trust your people… that’s a different conversation altogether!

  • Provide the resources necessary. I’m not just talking about money, although that is often important. Without the time to collaborate, your teams can’t be effective. Google famously required their engineers to spend 20% of their time (a full workday!) each week working on pet projects. Take the same approach with your teams.

  • Require results, not paperwork. At the end of the day, what do you want from your team—paperwork, excuses, or results? Don’t waste their time by requiring unnecessary paperwork, and make it clear that you aren’t interested in excuses. Demand results—and reward teams that produce.