How Great Teams Communicate

David Burkus
4 min readJul 25, 2022

Teamwork is impossible without communication. Teams have to share information; they have to share ideas. Without communication, teams can’t coordinate tasks. They can’t help each other; they can’t do anything other than work alone in silence.

Since communication is so vital to teamwork, it’s no surprise that the quality of communication affects the level of performance of a team so strongly. Great teams communicate differently than average teams. So, it’s worth examining what high performing teams do differently in terms of communication. Fortunately, researchers have been studying those differences on teams large and small for several decades now.

In this article, we’ll outline four differences in how great teams communicate.

Great teams communicate equally

The first difference in the way great teams communicate is they do so equally. In mediocre teams, there’s usually one or two people who are extroverted and extra loud dominating the conversation. But great teams take care to ensure that everyone on the team speaks equally during meetings, and that everyone’s perspective is sought out in email or other text-based discussions. They don’t assume that silence means consensus, they actively seek out dissent or actively check for consensus before moving on from a discussion. Sometimes this is because of a great team leader who is assertive enough to silence the over-talkers and amplify the unheard, but often it turns into a cultural norm where everyone on the team feels comfortable talking about how much each person is talking.

Equal communication ensures that no perspective is unshared and hence minimizes the team’s blind spots. But it also helps the team grow in their trust and respect for each other-and hence grow the level of psychological safety on the team that allows them to tap into their team’s true collective intelligence.

Great teams communicate informally

The second difference in the way great teams communicate is they do so informally. They’re not always communicating strictly through the organizational chart and keeping their chats solely on work related topics. Great teams get to know each other as people, not just as collaborators on a project. And to do that, they…

David Burkus

Author of LEADING FROM ANYWHERE | Keynote Speaker | Organizational Psychologist | Thinkers50 Ranked Thought Leader |