What is the Secret of Team Building?

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by Deepak Chopra, MD
February 20, 2013

What creates the best teams? I teach a course at the Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University for executives. It’s called “The Soul of Leadership,” and over and over again the question has come up, “What creates the best teams?”

So here are the three ingredients of best teams:

1. They have a shared vision, which they feel deeply
2. They are emotionally bonded.
3. Every member of the team compliments the strengths of every other member in the team. That’s it.

The best examples of these of course are sports teams. When you have two teams with basically equal competencies, the team that wins is the one that has those characteristics (the one’s listed above).

So once again these are: a shared vision deeply felt, emotionally bonded, and third where every member compliments the strengths of the other. There’s a lot more that goes into team building. Shared vision is the first thing, but emotional bonds means you are free of emotional resentments, grievances, jealousies of the other members of the team. You understand their emotions and they understand your emotions. You communicate in a way that displays or is authentically an expression of affection, attention, and appreciation.

And finally beyond emotional freedom and emotional bonding there is also emotional resilience. You know how to get over the ups and downs of life. So there you are–and you compliment each other’s strengths. So you know in soccer, the forward and the goalie and the quarterback all have strengths and they compliment each other, but that’s true of anything in business as well.

So where my strengths, for example, are: futuristic, adaptable, strategic, and maximizing my energy–and also thinking in a way where I can connect everybody else. My weaknesses sometimes lie in execution so I compliment that weakness with people that know how to execute. Okay. That in a nutshell is what creates a great team.

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13 Habits of Extraordinary Bosses

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by Geoffrey James Feb. 19, 2013

Extraordinary bosses use these habits to bring out the extraordinary in those around them.

The most popular post I’ve ever written is The Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses. However, while that post clearly struck a chord, it lacked something important: a code of behavior that puts those beliefs into action.

Probably my favorite business book is Sylvia Lafair’s Don’t Bring It To Work: Breaking the Family Patterns that Limit Success. In that book, Sylvia describes how people can transcend the limitations of their family background to become better workers.

In the process of describing that transformation, Lafair describes a set of habits that define how ideal leaders behave when they’ve got their beliefs aligned the right way. Here they are:

1. They collaborate rather than grandstand.

Extraordinary bosses realize that success doesn’t have to entail only individual accomplishment. They redefine that emotionally-packed word “success” so that wealth, position, and fame are no longer what really matters. They realize that group success is entirely consistent with individual accomplishment.

2. They build communities rather than platoons.

Extraordinary bosses focus on the basic wants and needs of the community and the desire to move from what exists now to what is possible. This creates a groundswell of activity as more and more people feel included and want to help. This allows them to tackle problems at the core, in order to make change happen.

3. They create new realities.

Extraordinary bosses create a sense that all things are possible. Everyone who’s ever faced a daunting challenge knows how important it is to be around somebody who can communicate what seems impossible and see the essence of hope in a haystack of adversity, allowing a business to break through into new markets.

4. They laugh at problems (and themselves).

Extraordinary bosses use humor put worries into perspective, so that we can laugh at ourselves and the situation before tackling hard work. The ability to tell the right joke at the right time reduces office stress and builds camaraderie, which is a real advantage in today’s intense, fast-paced work environments.

5. They help others visualize a better future.

Extraordinary bosses don’t just have a vision of the future. They also have a rare ability to understand and channel the desires and needs of other people. They listen as much as they talk and thus create a shared vision that motivates everybody, not just the boss. They point to a place that we know is better and give us the courage to get there.

6. They avidly explore new ideas.

Extraordinary bosses are always willing to be part of the first test to make sure that a project will succeed. They guide people into new territory, without hogging the limelight. They have a great sense of timing and know when to wait until the kinks have been worked out… without waiting too long.

7. They mentor and coach.

Extraordinary bosses know how to listen and give good advice at just the right time. Because they haven’t sailed through life, they know what it’s like to overcome intense obstacles and challenges. Most importantly, they’re willing to let go when you’re competent to make your own decisions without them.

8. They use stories to inspire.

Extraordinary bosses know that a good story can move people to places where no PowerPoint can take them. They know that stories help people understand how problems can be, and should be, solved. They use stories to close the distance that voicemail, e-mails and texting create between us.

9. They integrate pieces into wholeness.

Extraordinary bosses have the ability to see all sides of a situation and allow conflicting parties to not only be heard but acknowledged. They can gather a group and find ways that individuals can work together. They have an uncanny way of “slicing the pie” so that while every piece may not be identical, everyone feels treated with fairness and respect.

10. They tell the truth, even when inconvenient.

Extraordinary bosses do not change their minds just to pacify someone, although they are not averse to adjusting their opinions if that will enable a conflict to push towards resolution. They do not “beat around the bush,” so you always know where you stand. They treat you as an adult who can handle the truth rather than a child who must be protected from it.

11. They act before they have ALL the answers.

Extraordinary bosses can tolerate and moderate the conflicts that inevitably show up before the creative process comes into full bloom. They enjoy being involved in the thick of arguments, thus allowing problems and dissent to be resolved more quickly so that the creative process can move forward.

12. They create a climate of trust.

Extraordinary bosses know that trust is the glue that holds an organization together. Their commitment to build trust creates a counter force to the deception and political game-playing that makes so many offices difficult places to work. They know that trusting, and being trusted, is the best way to ensure that everyone in the organizations wins.

13. They make peace between factions.

Extraordinary bosses cannot be swayed to side with one group or individual against another but instead work to preserve the integrity of the whole system. Peacemakers teach us that peace is a state of mind and that it’s still possible to be happy even in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter. Find the link here: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/13-habits-of-extraordinary-bosses.html

Geoffrey James writes the Sales Source column on Inc.com, the world’s most visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World’s Top Sales Experts. @Sales_Source

Moving the Needle

You’ve seen it at ball games and on TV shows. The noise meter. Someone’s trying to get the crowd going to cheer on the home team or to select a contestant. So the noise meter is rolled out. The louder and more enthusiast the crowd gets, the more the needle moves towards the “frenzy” side of the meter. It’s fun. It’s loud. It’s designed to motivate the team to do more, score another run, to get everyone on the same page.

I think this concept is missing in many (most) companies. No, I’m not advocating screaming employees whipped up into a chaotic volume riot. I’m talking about enthusiasm about a shared vision and goals.

A lot of strategic planning can be, well, boring for most employees. Mostly because they are never told the “why” behind the decisions. The senior executives make a plan, may or may not communicate the plan to everyone, and then the staff is left to figure out what is happening and what they should be doing to execute the plan.

How different would it be if the senior executives spent intentional time in finding ways to really get the staff behind their vision? I’m not talking about shallow meetings meant to gin up the employees. I’m talking about meetings where the staff is given an honest assessment of where the company is and where it can go. A meeting where the vision will not be realized without the innovation, creativity, energy, hard work of the staff. But it doesn’t stop there.

As a manager, you have the responsibility to keep the vision alive in your staff. It is your job to keep momentum rolling. How?

* Keep the goals in front of your staff all the time. Keep their eyes on the target.
* Share the numbers. There is a story behind the numbers and make sure your team knows that story and how they can and will impact them in a positive way.
* Stretch them. Don’t be afraid to look into the future and challenge your team to do more than they may (at the time) believe they can achieve.
* Encourage them all along the way. Praise in public. Counsel in private.

Personal note: about 15 months ago, I collaborated with a colleague where we put a plan in place to capture more lending opportunities coming in via our website. We started up an eServices division in my department with 2 carefully chosen team players. We trained them and asked them to not only to do the work, but to analyze their work to help us continually find ways to improve this delivery channel. Their manager and I committed ourselves to encourage their progress along the way. The results?

* Loans outstanding (what is on our books) grew from just over $2 million to $12.6 (ending August).
* We’ve grown $6.9 million just since January.
* We are seeing around $1.4 million/month in loan production.
* Our loan quality is outstanding. Our loan servicing department reports that we rarely have any unresolved issues.

The other day, I challenged this team to stretch to a new goal – $1 million/month for EACH of them. I believe they can do it! I told them I believe they could do it. Guess what? They also believe they can do it. We talked about what it would take to get there. I committed to them what I would do to help get them there. They committed to me that they would do what they needed to do to get there. We don’t know when this will happen, but there WILL be a day when they each hit that $1 million mark in 1 month. It will be the happy dance day!

Enthusiasm fueling a clear vision that is clearly defined makes work fun, exciting, a bit scary, and meaningful. As a manager, you can keep moving that needle as you help keep your team focused and enthused about growing and developing and achieving.

Move that needle!