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The Power of Building Autonomous Teams

3 minute read

By Jeff Dewing, CEO of Cloud

Leaders and their organisations confront a critical dilemma: only 11% of the UK workforce feel engaged at work. This lack of motivation not only impacts the morale of individuals but also disrupts overall productivity and the organisation’s growth. The key to energising people has nothing to do with money; however, one effective remedy that promotes success for all parties involved is autonomy.

First, we have to create the conditions for success, a safe environment. To help leaders address this, there is a great phrase to keep leaders focused – “Leaders bring the weather”. When it’s a lovely day, the impact on our colleagues is materially positive. When it’s dull, overcast or God forbid raining, this has a major negative impact.

By establishing autonomous teams, organisations empower their workforce to balance professional responsibilities and personal needs, enhancing productivity and lifting energy levels. As leaders, it's important to avoid micromanaging our teams. Instead, we should let individuals make decisions and take ownership of their tasks. When teams feel trusted and valued, they are more inclined to inject enthusiasm and positivity into the organisation, boosting efforts towards achieving collective goals.


Autonomy is primarily about affording teams the freedom to operate according to their preferences and needs. This could encompass allowing individuals the autonomy to set their own schedules, establishing clear objectives with team input, and offering flexible, remote or hybrid work arrangements.

At Cloud, we've built autonomous teams by providing a flexible work environment and empowering staff to choose the work style that suits them best. Our team can choose to work remotely or come into the office. Meanwhile, the engineers, who need to be present on-site, collaborate to devise a schedule that aligns with their lives and personal commitments.

Due to this, our engagement levels have surpassed industry benchmarks by more than threefold. However, this transformation didn't happen overnight. Fostering a culture of autonomy requires time, and it's essential to equip managers with the skills to adopt a coaching approach focused on enhancing team performance rather than merely assigning tasks.

For autonomous teams to work, leaders must offer clarity and freedom in equal measure, as one without the other just doesn’t work. A lack of clarity can lead to confusion, while a lack of freedom inhibits creativity and the sparking of new ideas.


Individuals who are encouraged to experiment and innovate are much more likely to feel a stronger sense of purpose as they can see how their contributions align with the organisation's overall goals. Every individual deserves to have their voice heard, and by empowering teams to share their viewpoints, organisations create a heightened sense of purpose among team members. Autonomy also enables individuals to align their work with their personal goals and passions, deepening their sense of fulfilment.


Embracing the freedom to fail is important in creating autonomous teams. When individuals feel empowered to take risks and make decisions without fearing immediate repercussions for failure, they exhibit increased innovation and proactivity in problem-solving. Encouraging team members to explore new ideas and initiatives, even if they might fail, creates an environment where different and new perspectives are valued.

Having the opportunity to learn from failures allows team members to continue expanding their skills and expertise. Embracing the freedom to fail not only builds trust and confidence within teams but also creates a mindset of adaptability and continuous improvement – important qualities for navigating a dynamic workplace landscape.

Overall, leaders need to set aside their egos and instead create an environment that allows teams the autonomy to work in a way that suits their preferences while advancing the organisation's objectives. Once teams are afforded the space to thrive, productivity and engagement on both an individual and collective level thrive.

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