Highly effective teams described on a page

The 9-Dimensions® is a proven model for developing leadership, teams and organisations.

Putting in place these conditions increases your chances of success, based on 20-years of fieldwork and research by gurus such as Katzenbach & Smith, Professor Hackman and Professor Hawkins.


Team members know each other well and each other’s strengths, roles and personalities.  Katzenbach describes high performing teams as made up of a small number of people with complementary skills. If team members know each other well, they are in a good position to operate in a “spider’s web” manner rather than “hub and spoke”. The “spider’s web” is a real team (Hackman, Katzenbach) whereas the “hub and spoke” is a single leader working group. Hackman also says that real teams need clear boundaries, specified authority and membership stability.


Team members understand the big picture and current situation, feeling comfortable to ask the difficult questions. They know where they are now and avoid denial, being blinkered and limiting assumptions. They know what others are saying about them and they are honest about what is going well and what is not. They challenge themselves regularly with facts and information (Katzenbach) and have an outward focus, getting the feedback that they need (Hackman).


The team has a vision and members believe in it personally. Hackman describes this as a compelling purpose which should energise – it should be challenging; engage – it must be consequential and orient – provide clarity when decisions need to be made. For Katzenbach it is a common purpose that builds team performance and establishes urgency and direction. Hawkins talks about “future back” – what can you uniquely do that the world of tomorrow wants?


The team’s handful of priorities are clear, compelling and have robust plans.   The strategy is a roadmap from reality to vision. In red10 we call these priorities “must wins”. For Katzenbach, these are stretching performance goals and for Hackman they are team tasks. They should be a team “work product” distinct from what individuals can deliver without recourse to the team (Katzenbach).


The team is operating effectively (doing the right things) and efficiently (doing them well). For Katzenbach this is an approach – like a social contract among members that guides and obligates how they must work together. Excellence in execution is characterized by outputs (Hackman) or performance results (Katzenbach). Included in this dimension are the bread-and-butter things like tracking delivery and meeting patterns. But also the behavioural norms like holding themselves and others accountable for actions, agreed meeting behaviours and approach to decision making.

The previous 5 Dimensions are the Team Satellites

They are often the core 5 dimensions that we introduce teams to as the first satellites that the team needs to launch into orbit and connect their ‘Team GPS’ to.

They could be expressed briefly as:

Who is who and doing what?

Where are we now?

Where do we want to go?

What handful of must wins will get us where we want to go?

How are we going to work together?

The remaining 4 Dimensions are important and are:


The team manage stakeholders well and form effective partnerships with others outside the team. This includes adopting two of the 5 disciplines advocated by Hawkins. The first is commissioning. This means engaging in a dialogue with those (usually more senior) who have brought the team into being to match the team’s vision to their expectations and to gain appropriate resource and assistance. The second is connecting. This means engaging with internal and external stakeholders as:-

  • ambassadors for the team
  • enquirers about stakeholder needs and concerns
  • partners in achieving common goals.


The team creates a climate that engages their workforce and gains their commitment. This is likely to be characterized by good communication plans and channels and by the alignment of reward and recognition to achieving the vision. The team will understand and know how to flex their leadership and influence styles and will have worked on storytelling and speaking with authenticity. They will also seek feedback on the climate that the workforce experience through questionnaires or focus groups.


The team are clear about the values that underpin their decisions and ways of working. Values are important to teams but do not always get articulated. If actions are aligned with values, teams generally feel comfortable with the choices they make. If they are not, team members may feel conflicted.


The team seeks to learn and improve. This may include conducting after action reviews or learning reviews on completion of a piece of work or when reviewing progress with must wins. Hawkins includes core learning as one of his essential team disciplines, Periodically, a great team reviews its vision and must wins with an “outside-in” check on whether they are still right in a changed environment. Hackman suggests that expert coaching is an essential condition to enable this learning take place and Hawkins describes a team coach as “able to support and challenge acting with fearless compassion”.