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Thursday, January 20, 2011

CEO SPACE: Team Development

Leslie KnightI first learned about Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing some 20+ years ago. I don’t recall the class, but I have always remembered this one page in the materials. One page, 20 years ago and yet it still has a powerful impact on my work with teams. Until today, I didn’t know to whom to give credit. According to Wikipedia, this model of team development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Every team must go through these stages “in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.”[i]

As a leader, knowing that a team will pass through these stages allows you to better manage team interactions: when to be directive, when to intervene and when to get out of the way. In my experience, the real power is in sharing these stages with the team. When they are aware of them, they tend to automatically correct their behavior.

- Forming occurs when the team is first brought together. They share personal and professional information and begin forming bonds. As the leader, you share with them the team’s purpose, performance standards and processes. Everyone plays nicely for a while.

- Storming occurs as members search for their place on the team in relationship to the leader and each other. This is a painful phase the team needs to expect and understand. Each member possesses a natural desire to be valued and respected for their expertise and contributions. You need to emphasize patience and a respect for diversity among the members.

- Norming. The team has moved out of storming and now begins to adjust to each other’s work patterns. They accept each other’s role on the team, compensate for weaknesses and capitalize on strengths. They are working together almost seamlessly. As a leader, your role changes as you give the team greater responsibility for execution and decisions. They need to understand they may experience some anxiety with the increased responsibility…but you are expressing confidence in their ability.

- Performing is the phase we all dream about as leaders. They don’t require constant oversight. The team has matured. They are confident in their ability and themselves. Differences in approach or opinion are not viewed as a threat but as an opportunity. The team brings solutions to the table rather than problems. You have complete confidence in their ability to execute.

I enjoy watching teams move through these stages. It pains me when they get stuck in storming and the final solution is to remove a team member. It fills me with pride when they reach performing and their bonds transcend the immediate project. How long a team spends in each stage of development depends on you, the leader.

Where is your team?



Founded by Berny Dohrmann over 20 years ago, CEO Space is a private entrepreneurial business club with an environment that we created for people to be able to get quick results with their business through networking, education, and resources. For a one-time tuition payment Entrepreneurs receive a Lifetime membership and one free class, as well as a lifetime of mentoring, contacts; resources, and most of all a lifetime of support for you and your business as you grow. You can learn about Transformational Leadership and other topics at CEO Space.

Leslie Knight is a trusted advisor to small businesses. She has over 20 years of experience in Corporate America which she applies to smaller entrepreneurial enterprises. She is Executive Director for CEO Space Volunteer Staff, and is also the author of Navigating the I.T. Minefield – Straight Talk for the Small Enterprise. To purchase your copy, please visit

For more information on CEO Space please visit or call CEO Space at 256.850.4700.

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