Teamwork is important across the majority of professional sectors. We can’t do everything alone. Most projects require a range of skills and knowledge that cannot be expected of just one person. The time constraints on a project can also require us to share tasks with others.

Teamwork in community development is essential because the work is, by definition, a group effort. It requires the building of relationships between and contribution from a number of people – professionals, volunteers, service providers and community members alike.

Take a look at the characteristics below of a high performing team and consider what community development theories could be used to achieve these characteristics.

characteristics of a high performing team


  • Working towards common goals
  • Open Communication
  • Interaction and involvement of all members


  • Constructive conflict resolution
  • Respect for differences
  • Mutual trust


  • Maintenance of individual self esteem
  • Personal and professional growth plan
  • Flexible leadership


  • Attention to process
  • Power within group to make decisions
  • Fostering creativity

(Adapted from Association for Professional Development, 2008)

A team should have a set of values that underpin and guide the work that they do together. When you have a goal (outcome) and a plan to get there (policy and process), the values ensure the plan is actioned in a way that is acceptable to the team.

Many of the principles and theories we use to work with our participants and clients in community development, must also be applied to our work with colleagues and stakeholders. In addition, the principles of community development are also evident. These are the values that underpin and guide our processes to achieving success as a team.

Extend Your Learning

This article from LinkedIn talks more about the 10 Principles of Effective Teamwork.

Strengths-Based Team Work

When teamwork is done well it utilises the resources available to the group. Strengths-based theory is not just for working with participants – it extends into our work with colleagues. Understanding your team mates’ skills and knowledge means being able to allocate tasks to the people who will excel at them. It also means letting people build their capacity in skills they already have and teaching others those skills to make the team self-sufficient in their absence, e.g. through succession planning.

Respecting Diversity

We also must recognise and respect the diversity in our team like we do in our community. The importance of every member of the team should be recognised along with their individual skills and knowledge.

In addition to different skills and knowledge we also need to be aware that we are likely to be working with people with different personalities, working styles, conflict styles, ages, gender identities, abilities and cultural backgrounds to our own. There needs to be a level of acceptance as well as flexibility. Choosing to work with this level of diversity means more creativity and innovation – and, ultimately, better outcomes.

Extend Your Learning

The VIA Institute on Character provides a free test for you to determine what your strengths are. You can also use your knowledge of the Character Strengths to identify strengths in your colleagues and participants. 

A Moment of Reflection...

  • How can you incorporate strengths-based theory into the team you currently work in? Are you already doing this?
  • What different kinds of diversity affect the way that your team works? Gender, age, education, culture, etc.

Share your reflections in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Finally, strong and constructive communication is essential. All team members must be aware of their role and responsibilities – low clarity of role can lead to stress and burnout. 1 Understanding your role and that of others means knowing what to expect of others and what they can expect of you. It means knowing who is in charge, the structure of the team and who has the power to make decisions.

Active listening, validation and empathy as just as important when interacting with our team mates as it is with community members. Show your colleagues that their opinions matter to you and that working collaboratively is a priority.

Managing conflict as it arises is an important part of team work. We must see conflict as an opportunity to learn, grow and move forward.

Click on the Conflict Resolution link below to continue.

  1. Associates for Professional Development (2008). Characteristics of High Performance Teams. Slideshare. Accessed on 02/02/23 at

  2. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (n.d.) Low Role Clarity. Accessed on 15/02/23 at:
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