The Power of Agreed Ways of Working to Strengthen Leadership and Teams

Oct 12, 2023

So, what exactly are Agreed Ways of Working (AWOW)? Think of them as the ground rules, the playbook, or the compass that guides your team's actions and interactions. They serve as a shared understanding of how things get done, ensuring everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction.  Once you have clear expectations the team are able to reflect on their own presence and give each other open and honest feedback.


Agreed ways of working provide an important foundation for existing and new members to your team.  They enable you and your team to have:

Clear Accountability for Behaviours: Clear expectations make it easier to hold team members accountable for their actions. Once everyone has agreed on the rules, encourage accountability to come from the team, not only from the leader,

Adaptability: While AWOW provides structure, it also allows for flexibility. Teams can adjust and refine their ways of working as needed, fostering continuous improvement,

Better Communication: AWOW encourage open and transparent communication among team members. Leaders can encourage a culture of collaboration and information sharing,

Fairness: everyone is held to the same standard when it comes to how we show up for meetings, interactions and how you work together,

Know What is important.  Things like being focused on what is happening in a meeting, removing distractions, listening with focus and intent, being an engaged participant takes conscious effort.  Agreed ways of working help us to switch on these behaviours to get the most out of your time together.


The key to coming up with AWOW is that your team needs to be involved.  Like anything if you come up with it on your own, your team are much less likely to take ownership and want to commit to the ways of working.  Hand it over to your team and see what ideas they come up with, it’s a great way to see what is important to them.

As a group you can ask questions like:

  • How do we need to show up to get the most out of our time together?
  • What do we want being a member of this team to feel, sound and look like? What behaviours will support this?
  • What does success look like for our team? What behaviours do we need to engage in to achieve this?


Once your AWOW are in place continue to review and adapt.  AWOW should not be set in stone. Regularly review and update them to reflect changing circumstances or lessons learned. Get feedback from your team and be open to making adjustments to ensure they are still fulfilling their purpose.


One thing to remember is that if you are not following the AWOW what message is that sending to your team?  As the leader your behaviour sets the tone for what is acceptable. Model the agreed ways of working in your actions and decisions. When team members see you following the rules, they are more likely to do the same.


Agreed Ways of Working are a powerful tool that can transform a group of individuals into a cohesive and high-performing team. They provide clarity, structure, and a shared purpose that can lead to better results and a more harmonious work environment. Take the time to establish AWOW with your team, and you'll be well on your way to achieving your vision of success.

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