There is no organization on the planet that will succeed without strong leadership. But what is strong leadership? Leadership has been defined as, ‘Motivating human beings to accomplish something’. The key to that particular definition is ‘human beings’ plural. No one man or woman can stand alone. Leader is defined as ‘A person who leads others along a way’. A leader has to have others to lead. You must build your team if you want to be successful and stay successful. You must lead the way! So how do you go about this? What can you as the leader do to build a successful team and sustain that team? During my 20 plus year career I have had to build many teams in order to be successful. I learned about teams when I was a kid and first starting playing sports. I played sports through little leagues, middle school, junior high school, and finally high school. My team building experience then continued with my time serving in the Army as an Infantry soldier. I took these principles with me when I started my career in the business world. This posting reviews steps that have helped me and can also help you WIN at work!
1. Recruit Good People – Leverage the Talent available to you!
We have all heard the saying, ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’. However no truer words have ever been coined. Think about it. In a team atmosphere every member has their role. What happens when one member does not pull their weight and fulfill their responsibilities? On the foot ball field when a player misses an assignment what happens? Many times it is 6 points for your opponent. On the battle field if fire team members are not supporting one another and maintaining their fields of fire to keep the enemies heads down lives could be lost. It is imperative to build your team with a solid foundation. You do this by recruiting the best of the best. Dell computer eventually surpassed Compaq which was a much larger company in sales. This was because Michael Dell (The Father of the Just In Time model) went above and beyond himself to have the right people in the right job. He ensured these people knew exactly how to execute his business model exactly as he envisioned.
You as the leader must be actively involved in the recruitment of your team; they must have your stamp of approval. Do not let an HR professional build your team, you must be engaged in this process. This is a job that should never be delegated by the leader! What does a football coach do? Are they actively involved in the building of their team? You better believe it! They know they will be held accountable for the out come. You as the leader are in the same boat. You will be held accountable for your out come so get engaged in the recruitment process and leverage the talent available to you!
2. Never Ever Lie to your People!
Trust is a key component to any relationship. Basically without trust a positive relationship cannot exist. There will be a relationship but it will be negative and combative. The worst mistake I have seen managers make over my career has been to lie to their work force. They promise something at the moment to get an employee to do what they want and then never make good on the promise. Some how this is justified in their mind for the better of the whole. Once you lie and your people know it your creditability is gone, no matter how minor you may think the lie was. In my last operation I had a very positive relationship with my work force and management team. I talked to them regularly and told them things they did not want to hear but it was the truth. They always appreciated that fact. Tell the truth and provide the ‘why’ for things that are taking place, it goes a long way. I once heard one of my union stewards having a conversation with one of their fellow employees. It went something like this,
Employee, “I just talked to Robert about my situation, he tells me he is going to take care of it.”
Union Steward, “Then you can consider it done.”
Employee, “You trust him that much? Really?”
Union Steward, “He has never lied to me, so yes I do.”
Always tell the truth even if it is about a subject your people do not want to hear about. They will know they can trust what you say and believe in you.
3. Team skills inventory – Empower your players!
Once your team is assembled it is now time for you to empower your players and build their skill set. You get good people with good skills, however you must turn each member into a fined tuned machine by training, mentoring, coaching, and supporting them. In the book ‘Helping People WIN at WORK’ by Ken Blanchard and Gary Ridge it is stated, ‘People who produce good results feel good about themselves’. Your team cannot produce good results if they are not experts at what they are doing. It is about results, we all know this. We execute to achieve results and profitability. Again think about the NFL, what players feel the best about themselves, the last place team or the Super Bowl Champions? How is it any different for your team? Your Super Bowl may be many different things but results speak for themselves. It has been said, ‘The proof is in the pudding.’ Empower your team and as Gary Ridge stated in his book, ‘Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A’.
4. Synergy – No One Member of your Team can be more important then the outcome!
I want you to think about a buildings structure. The taller the building the more support beams that will be required. If a support beam gives way what happens? The building comes crashing down. The same holds true for your team. The purpose of the team is to work together as a unit for a greater outcome. No one part of the team can be more important then the over all outcome. It is not about what is right or wrong for any individual of the team it is about achieving the over all results desired. When silos are created the team starts to come apart. Every team member must understand the mission and the vision you are trying to achieve. You must be working as one toward this result. The great thing I learned with my time is the Army was how to put trust and faith in my team members. We had many exercises that could not be done without every team member contributing and helping one another. Bottom line is no team member can be more worried about themselves more than the mission. This is the key of synergy! Do fun team building activities with your team, it helps believe me!
5. Reward your Team – Everyone must benefit from your success!
Human beings work hard because they believe in what they are doing and to be recognized. One of the basic human needs is to be acknowledged. Being recognized is being acknowledged in the work place. As we stated already, ‘People who produce good results feel good about themselves’. People must be rewarded for success. If the team is not sharing in the success they are achieving and the leader is the only one reaping the benefits things will sour quickly. Have you ever had a boss take credit for work you did? How did it make you feel? Never do this to your team members!
Your team members want to know they have the chance to advance and be rewarded for their hard work. Your team must benefit for the overall success of the outcome. TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More. Reward your team, recognize your team, and celebrate successes! It was Napoleon the Great the legendary French military leader that stated, ‘If I had enough ribbons I could conquer the world’. He was referring to awards soldiers get to wear on their uniforms for success. When a team wins a championship the entire team and the surrounding community benefits, the same must hold true of your team. Everyone must benefit from your success!