Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Loyalist Teams Rock the Boat

Last updated on June 14th, 2023 at 10:50 am

Loyalist Teams consistently deliver extraordinary results. They’re the teams we remember all our lives. On these teams, we do our best and most creative work, blow through challenges, and exceed our own expectations.

You know you’re on a Loyalist Team when:

  • You trust your teammates implicitly; they have your back and you have theirs
  • You always assume positive intent
  • Team members talk to each other, not about each other
  • Team members hold each other accountable: poor performance isn’t tolerated
  • The team supports you, even when you make mistakes
  • You see intelligent risk-taking and innovation
  • The team habitually confronts the brutal facts
  • You’re having fun
  • You can be your authentic self and do your best work every day

Loyalist Teams create value because:

  • Good enough is never enough for them
  • Team members push each other to do their very best work
  • They talk about conflict right away and don’t let issues fester
  • They put the company agenda first
  • There is a high level of engagement and performance
  • Innovation and creativity grow exponentially

If you lead a Loyalist Team…

  1. Don’t let the team get complacent. Sustaining success is your biggest challenge. Being a Loyalist Team is not a destination; it is a journey. Nothing around the team will stay static, so the team must evolve and grow. Keep asking: “How do we make sure we are getting better?” Keep challenging the team to talk about what’s next.
  2. Learn to learn. Remind your team that setbacks and failure are how you learn. Make it safe for the team to take risks and stretch. Encourage the team to listen to and learn from each other and those outside the team. Bring in new and different points of view. Challenge conventional thinking whenever possible.
  3. Spread the wealth – create capacity in other leaders. Your team got to this place with effort, learning, and intentional focus. Congratulations! It’s now your job to help other leaders learn to do the same. Are you mentoring other leaders who could benefit from your experience? Are you building Loyalist leadership capacity on the team?
  4. Drive uncompromising candor. When the team is this good and the relationships are so close, there’s a tendency to hold back. Remember that the relationships are strong enough to survive the touch conversations.
  5. Don’t be a Loyalist bully. The goal is to have a Loyalist organization. Don’t make other teams within your company the common enemy in order to pull your team together. Set an example for other teams and bring them along.

If you are a member of a Loyalist Team…

  1. Push your teammates to achieve. Don’t look to your leader to solve problems or own the toughest issues. Continuously give feedback – positive and negative. Push yourself and your teammates to speak with candor and discuss the undiscussable. Don’t get comfortable and complacent.
  2. Remain curious and committed to learning. Stay fresh. What other perspectives might be valuable for you to consider? What else might shore up your weakness and allow you to leverage your strengths? Has the team become too insular? Be sure the team isn’t falling into the trap of groupthink or believing it has all the right answers.
  3. Own and explore mistakes. Don’t hide from your mistakes. Instead, own them. Find the learning when your teammates make mistakes. Contribute to an environment that is about confronting reality, learning from setbacks, and showing vulnerability.

If this is you, if yours is a Loyalist Team, you know how hard you’ve worked – and you should be proud of the achievement. Teams don’t get here without digging in and making a sustained commitment. And no team stays here without continuing to apply the same rigor going forward. You’ll continue to do the work – to question assumptions, to challenge one another, and to take direct feedback – and you’ll continue to achieve as only the highest-performing teams can. Congratulations, and keep it up. You’re in a rare group of exceptional teams.


This article has been adapted from The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations by Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale, with Jody Berger. Copyright © 2017. Available from PublicAffairs, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Linda Adams, Audrey Epstein, Abby Curnow-Chavez and Rebecca Teasdale are partners at The Trispective Group and co-authors of The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations. For more information, or to take a free team snapshot assessment, please visit,


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Abby Curnow-Chavez
Abby Curnow-Chavez
Abby Curnow-Chavez is a partner at The Trispective Group and the co-author with Audrey Epstein, Linda Adams and Rebecca Teasdale of The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations. For more information, please visit, The Trispective Group.