Team Development Stages and Leader’s Role in Them

One of the most common definitions of the word “team” is “A team is a group of people who have complementary skills and different characters, feel bound by a common goal, and need each other to achieve results.” But how does a group become a team, and what needs to be done by the leader for the group to achieve the highest result?

Team management experts highlight the sequential stages that a group must go through before it becomes a capable team. Thus, leaders should have a clear understanding of the typical stages of team development. Let’s review the four team development stages and examples of the team’s and leader’s actions at each stage.

The Four Team Development Stages

In team development, four stages are usually recognized. They are forming, storming, norming, and performing. A group always goes through these four stages of team development to achieve maximum performance. To speed up the process of reaching the final stage, one needs to understand what stage the team is at and influence it correctly at each stage.


The first team development stage is Forming. At this stage, the roles are distributed, and the schedule of meetings is agreed upon. Team members encounter difficulties associated with the transition from individual work to teamwork. As at any other stage, the most important thing is to set clear goals, deadlines, and standards, prioritize, provide resources, discuss all decisions with the team, and praise for small successes.

It is also advisable to make sure that each member of the team has a clearly defined role, conduct training on the topic of teamwork, as well as develop the basic rules of conduct in a team. The leader will need to effectively organize the team, establish a free exchange and respect other team members’ opinions.


This is one of the most stressful periods in the development of the team. Members know each other better and are starting to defend their place in the team and their point of view. In the second stage, many team members can lose their initial positive attitude and drive. The leader has to set clear goals and explain the reason behind them, monitor the team regularly, but not too much, as well as prioritize and encourage an open resolution of the conflict in a team.

This stage is essential because people want more freedom in their decisions. The leader’s mistake would be to try to resolve all conflicts on their own. The storming stage must be passed as quickly as possible so that the negative consequences of conflict situations do not affect the project as a whole.


During the third team development stage, employees accept the concept of teamwork. Team members feel that cooperation is paying off, and everyone is making a contribution. They can express constructive criticism, try to reach mutual understanding and avoid clashes, trust each other more, and experience a sense of community and team spirit.

Information inquiries and project status reports, as well as your moral support, will help the team to go to the next stage and not to return to the second. Leaders should encourage members to ask questions, and give suggestions for 6 possible solutions, be with the team as one of the players, praise, and celebrate success.


Having reached this stage, the team begins to identify and solve problems with relative ease. The team independently makes decisions, knows what is needed to achieve the goal, and in what time frame tasks need to be done. The team decides whether they need support and additional resources to accomplish a specific task.

Trusting relationship arises between members. In general, all participants accepted and shared common goals. The team becomes completely independent. It is possible for the leader to step away and only endorse the final decision of the team before its implementation, control based on a result and celebrate success.

Teamwork is a complex process. The above recommendations will help teams to overcome possible difficulties at each of the four stages of team development easier and without harming the project as a whole.

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