@JimmyJohnsonFW: In the end, you may be the only person you can count on. Be confident. Be courageous. Going it alone is better than not going.
There’s a good reason we spend so much time thinking about teams.
Every organization in every industry pursues ambitious projects, works hard to get and serve clients and customers, and tackles new markets, new ideas, and new innovation.
Competition is fierce, and it takes a great team to deliver the kind of performance that keeps organizations successful.
There are no quick answers about how to build a great team. But after years of observing many team dynamics, I have come to recognize a few elements that make up a top-performing team:
A compelling vision and meaningful purpose: Top-performing teams have a defined vision and purpose that resonate with its members and draw them in.
Clarified roles and skills: Top-performing teams clearly identify the role and expectations of each member based on their talents and skills. Research shows that collaboration improves when the roles of individuals are clearly defined and understood.
Strategy and goals: Top-performing teams need a clearly defined strategy, plan, and goals. Strategy provides a map that shows where the team is going, and planning and goals tell how they’ll get there.
Commitment and accountability: Top-performing teams need for each member to hold a personal commitment and individual accountability for their role, while still supporting one another.
Mutual trust: Top-performing teams spend time cultivating trust, investing in relationships, and collaboratively developing and refining their mission, purpose, roles, and challenges.
Challengers and collaborators: Top-performing teams need diversity in personalities and talent. They need members who don’t just settle for pleasant conversation but who respectfully challenge and ask, and members who build relationships and bring people together.
Communication and dialogue: Top-performing teams need channels of communication that are open, authentic, challenging, courageous, and real. There is no room for passive aggression and backbiting. Team members are free to speak from the heart and embrace dialogue even in disagreement.
There will never be a perfect team, because teams are, after all, made up of imperfect people.
Every team his its own strengths and frustrations, But the best teams have a vision. They communicate well and they know their goals, skills, and talents.
When teams are given the tools to truly collaborate, they can create true excellence.
Lead From Within: We are not trying to mandate perfection but to build teams whose hearts are beating to the same rhythm.
For coaching, consulting, workshops and speaking. Please feel free to contact me.
Lolly is the founder of Lead from Within, a global consultancy that has counseled heads of state, consulted to CEOs of large multinationals, and coached budding entrepreneurs.
Over 460,972 people follow Lolly’s wisdom on Twitter and subscribe to her blog; her inspirational speeches are greeted by standing ovations worldwide.
The latest numbers from Gallup’s survey of 150,000 workers are in:
Fewer than 1 in 3 (30%) American workers are committed to the success of their organization and are engaged in their work. Over half (52%) are ‘disengaged’ – defined as ‘less emotionally connected’ and not willing to do any more than necessary to keep their job. Most alarming of all, nearly 1 in 5 works are ‘actively disengaged’ – actually against their organization, their boss, or both. If you only had five people working for you, this would make for a bleak support team!
However you interpret these numbers, they paint a disturbing picture and point to a dire gap between the leadership required in today’s flatter and more pressure-laden organizations and the leadership that people are getting. Given that engagement is indispensable to building competitive advantage and staying the course in an increasingly global marketplace, these numbers are a siren call to leaders at all levels to become more deeply engaged in closing the gap lest it grower wider.
While there are countless theories on fostering greater employee engagement and no one clear solution, my experience working with individuals and organisations across cultures, industries and hemispheres is that the most powerful paradigms are also the most practical. This, combined with my research while writing Stop Playing Safe, helped me develop the adjacent engagement framework, which incorporates three core domains for masterful leadership that deepens employee engagement and lifts organizational performance.
i) Connect – Build Trust: Relationships are the currency of the workplace, and so the stronger your connections, the more influence you wield. To better engage workers in the work, leaders must first better engage with their workers. This starts by building trust, respect and the lines of communication. People respond better to leaders they respect, even though they may not always like them. Being able to communicate effectively with employees to direct and guide their actions first requires making a genuine connection with them. This cannot occur if leaders remain in their polished offices, removed from the shop floors and front line where employees live each workday. It requires, as I wrote in a previous column Why Leaders Must ‘Get Real’ – 5 Ways To Unlock Authentic Leadership, a willingness to lay vulnerability on the line, to engage in open conversation, to share authentically, and to constantly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of those around them (the topic of another recent column). Employees will be far more ready to go the extra mile for leaders they can relate to on a human level, rather than someone whom they perceive thinks of themselves as a ‘little bit better’ than everyone else.
ii) Inspire – Share The Bigger “Why”: In workplaces around the world today, millions of people show up thinking that what they do doesn’t matter beyond the pay-check they get for it. The cost to the human spirit of such widespread resignation and disillusionment far transcends even the vast cost to the bottom line. As human beings we long to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in our work, not just our lives outside it. We want to believe that what we are doing with our time and talents, skills and expertise is being used for a worthy purpose. Sadly, too few people do.
People who don’t view the tasks they do each day as holding any larger utility beyond the obvious will scarcely be willing to put forth any extra effort, more prone to cutting corners, and more likely to cover up mistakes. Which is why it is imperative for leaders to continually strive to ensure employees understand the bigger “Why” – enabling them to connect their actions to a vision – the company’s mission – and how that vision impacts the world around them in a meaningful way. There is little more demoralizing to workers than having a leader who can’t clearly articulate why employees should care about what they’re doing.
As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, ‘While spirituality and business may seem an oxymoron, organizations that can connect employees to a bigger purpose – to a ‘why’ that transcends their pay check – are those that will tap their full potential and inspire employees to continue go the extra mile.’ Leaders must help people see that their role, while it may seem relatively insignificant in the big scheme, is both valued and valuable. More so, that the attitude and spirit they bring to fulfilling it is no less important. In short: it’s a leaders mission to inspire those they lead to do more, learn more, and become more than they otherwise would. As leadership expert Lance Secretan wrote in Inspire: What Great Leaders Do, ‘A leader who does not inspire is like a river without water.’
While I have no data to substantiate this, I suspect that the reason employee disengagement is highest among those under 25 is that they are the ones who still have the burning fire in the belly desire to change the world, yet suddenly find themselves in a ‘job’ doing the mundane tasks young workers tend to be given, and struggling to see any connection between what they’re doing and the bigger problems they see in the world around them (a feeling I can still recall myself at that age.) Helping bridge that gap and connect the role an organization is playing in creating a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world (all values important younger people) will help to not only deepen engagement but inspire workers to go the extra mile and challenge themselves in new ways, knowing that they are part of something bigger than themselves. When people know that there’s something bigger at stake as they go about their work, they will approach every challenge with greater determination, resourcefulness and initiative than they otherwise would.
iii) Embolden – Cultivate a Culture of Courage: Willingness to step beyond our comfort zone is crucial to both our success and that of any organization we’re part of. But in order to do that, we have to know that it’s safe to do so and that we won’t be punished if our efforts fall short of the mark. In Stop Playing Safe, I wrote extensively about the importance of leaders at all levels in cultivating a ‘Culture of Courage’ that encourages innovative thinking and makes it ‘safe’ for employees to take risks, make ‘smart mistakes,’ challenge status quo thinking, and provide candid upward feedback. When employees feel that their contribution is truly valued, and are challenged to push the boundaries of possibility, experiment, and express their opinions openly (though constructively), it triggers greater ownership of their own success as well as their commitment to the larger mission of their team and organization.
When leaders are committed and actively working to connect, inspire and embolden – they unleash untapped potential and raise the bar not just on productivity, but on the value their organisation contributes to all it’s stakeholders. Not only that – and of no less significance – they nurture and embolden an entire new generation of leaders to take on the yet seen challenges of tomorrow, clear in the knowledge that while what we do each day at work matters, it is the attitude we bring to what we do that matters far more.
Margie Warrell draws on her background in business, psychology, and executive coaching to help people live and lead with greater courage. She is the bestselling author of Stop Playing Safe (Wiley 2013), and Find Your Courage (McGraw-Hill 2009), and a sought after keynote speaker and media commentator.
You can also stay connect with Margie on Twitter, Linked In, or Facebook, For more ‘courage-building’ resources and information, please visit http://www.margiewarrell.com
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.
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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
Does your team trust you? I’m not talking about the type of trust where if they don’t, lives will be lost (i.e. pathfinding over treacherous terrain). I’m asking do they trust you in the day-to-day decisions you make as a manager?
- Exceptions they witness you make for a customer, but then see no exceptions for other customers
- How you handle scheduling requests from the team
- How you model your work ethic
- How you represent your team among your colleagues and supervisors
Make no mistake here – your team is watching your actions and hearing your words.
Stephen M.R. Covey in his book, “The Speed of Trust”, explains how trust can improve or the lack of trust can destroy your effectiveness as a leader. Quite simply put, Covey says the following:
High Trust = Things get done Faster/Better + Costs Decrease
and the flip side says:
Low Trust = work slows down + costs rise
Which environment are you creating?
We’ve all seen the negative effects of a low-trust department or organization. In my own company, we had a high level executive promoted to a higher level. He was a proven sales leader. He got the numbers. But it was how he got the numbers that became the problem. He lied often. He tore people down rather than build them up. He led by fear and intimidation. No one trusted him. His teams were stressed out and looking to escape.
Fortunately, our top executives saw this happening. They took the courageous step to remove this person from our corporation. They placed values over results. Note: it’s been nearly 4 years since this executive was let go. We are putting up record growth numbers today. It took other courageous actions, but I’ll talk about that at a later time.
So how do you build high trust in your team (high trust of YOU)?
* Communicate – let your team know what is happening in your company and how they fit in to the vision/mission.
* Be Visible – spend significant time in your department. Get out of the corner or “upstairs” office and get among your team. Listen to them as they interact with your customers and other company team members. You’ll learn so much doing this!
* Ask for Input – seek your team’s ideas on how your department/company can improve. They have been thinking about it! And they can have great ideas! When you use one of their ideas, give them credit for it!
* Cheerlead – when you talk about your team, are you their cheerleader? Or do you find yourself complaining about them? If it’s the latter, who is to blame…really…? If you can’t praise your team to others, find out why and make the necessary changes. That is your job! It’s far more fun to be a cheerleader!
* Lead by Example – this works every time. If your team sees you as lazy, indifferent, uncaring, unproductive, playing favorites, etc., guess what they will become? Speed of the leader, speed of the team is true!
* Care – your team is full of people. People with dreams, fears, goals, families, hurts, needs, and feelings. Care about them. You do not have to become their best friend (don’t even try!). But don’t be afraid to get to know them and allow them to get to know you. On Friday this week, I will be traveling to another department to spend time with someone who is going through a rough life experience – something I’ve gone through. His supervisor asked me if I would take the time to talk with this great young man since she knew I had gone through something similar. How did she know about me? We had talked and I opened up. My time this Friday will not be about the company, but I’ll get a chance to encourage a fellow team member from another department. I get the chance to show him that someone cares what he is going through. I think that is an investment worth making.
There are other ways you can build trust with your team. The point is this: you set the tone for trust in your department. What kind of environment are you creating everyday? High trust? Low trust?