Eight Behaviours for Smarter Teams

Ivan Sanchez
2 min readAug 8, 2020


I’ve recommended “Eight Behaviors for Smarter Teams” by @LeadSmarter so many times that I decided to make a summary of them:

1. State views and ask genuine questions

Give context and share your views before asking questions to get better quality of answers.

Genuine questions come from a place of curiosity. You should avoid leading or rhetorical ones to encourage more productive conversations.

2. Share all relevant information

By sharing relevant information, including things that don’t support your point of view or preferred solution, you add to a shared pool of knowledge that the team can use to make better decisions.

3. Use specific examples and agree on what important words mean

Try to bring concrete, real-world scenarios to help address challenging issues. And don’t be afraid to check if the words you’re all using mean the same thing to everyone.

4. Explain reasoning and intent

The reasoning is your train of thought (logic). The intent is where you’re planning to take it (purpose).

By sharing those two aspects, you spare people from guessing the meaning of your words and actions, avoiding misunderstandings.

5. Focus on interests, not positions

There is usually more than one position that could satisfy people’s interests. By clearly identifying what people care about, you can design and commit to a solution that better meets everyone’s needs.

My favourite personal variation of “focus on interests, not positions” is “focus on the problem, not the solution”.

6. Test assumptions and inferences

We take information from granted (assumptions) and draw conclusions about things we don’t know based on things we know (inferences).

When you validate those, you create another source of learning and add to the pool of shared knowledge.

7. Jointly design next steps

Smart team members avoid deciding things unilaterally. By being transparent and curious, you’ll find yourself involving those who hold valuable information, as well as those who are likely to be affected.

It may take extra work to jointly decide the next steps, but this pays off in shared understanding and a higher level of commitment.

8. Discuss undiscussable issues

Relevant and negative issues are usually emotionally charged; therefore tend to be avoided by most teams. Personal behaviour, performance, or strong opposite positions are typical examples of such matters.

The good news is that the mechanics of the previous seven behaviours still apply when addressing undiscussable issues.

The ability to address undiscussable issues early and often is a deciding factor for teams who want to make good choices together.

Key takeaways

Smart teams are good at sharing information, learning from each other, and accepting responsibility. They make informed choices as a group and show compassion towards each other.

Learn more about the Eight Behaviours from the original paper by Roger Schwarz.