The Secret Recipe for Building an Amazing Team
Have you ever been part of an amazing team? The kind of team where you really were better together?
It is a special experience to be a part of a group where everyone works hard and solved problems together. With each other. For each other.
Maybe you’ve experienced this on a sports team. Or at work. Maybe the experience was long-running. Or maybe it was brief but memorable.
If you have been able to experience being on an amazing team, it is unlikely this was by chance. Instead, it is likely that whoever provided team leadership was doing something very specific.
But it is also possible that the leadership of the team couldn’t tell you exactly what it was that they did that helped create this experience.
As a result, it’s not always easy to replicate the recipe of a high-performing team. But don’t you fret — I’ve got that recipe right here:
The Secret Recipe of High Performing Teams
Here are the five ingredients of that secret recipe. These five habits or practices of leaders will result in building an amazing team. Perhaps as a surprise, they have very little to do with the people on the team and a lot to do with the leader.
- Create clarity in purpose and expectations: High-performing teams understand what they are supposed to accomplish and what is expected from them in terms of behavior, decision making, timeliness, and so on. They know how to win the game and what the rules are.
The leaders of amazing teams create clarity upfront and maintain that clarity throughout. Too much clarity isn’t a threat. Not enough is.
- Provide active leadership: High-performing teams are actively led. Active leaders don’t wait for circumstances to require a response. They actively set direction, communicate vision and pursue it. They are role models for excellence and break trails for others to follow. They are committed to improvement and address behaviors and bureaucracy when needed. They mentor and build others and ensure opportunities for growth exist. They encourage and acknowledge the efforts of others.
The leaders of amazing teams are active. Not reactive.
- Adjust your style to the need: Leaders who adapt their style will outperform leaders who require others to adapt to them. This doesn’t mean that leaders can’t have a style or personality or preferences. But if you can lead many contexts, many types of people, many dynamics — your leadership is much more useful. Any leader who insists on their style of leadership is also describing the limits of their leadership.
The leaders of amazing teams are adaptive to the situations and people they lead.
- Engage the commitment of others: There are very few dynamics where followers must follow a leader. Where they exist, they are coercive, and they do not produce amazing teams. Most of the time followers either choose to follow a leader or choose to join an organization that provides leaders. Either way — the savvy leader will realize that a follower’s commitment is always voluntary.
The leaders of amazing teams nurture and maintain the commitment of their teams.
- Consistently provide accountability for both performance and behavior: The scientific method is based on the idea of using structure and objectivity to observe and confirm. When applied well it leads to deeper understanding and improvement. This is true for teams. When structure and objectivity are applied to tracking performance and behaviors — it’s easier to manage and improve both. Most team members want to know how they are doing and if their efforts are effective. Many leaders either don’t know what to track or wait until there is a problem to say anything (or both).
The leaders of amazing teams are structured, deliberate, and consistent in providing accountability.
Progress Not Perfection
Very few leaders naturally practice all five.
Some leaders are very active and very hard workers — but it’s difficult to understand what they expect.
Others have very clear goals and expectations but don’t know how to engage the commitment of others.
Many leaders struggle with knowing how to provide ongoing, structured accountability for performance and behavior. They feel uncomfortable with this, so they make it uncomfortable for everyone else.
If you feel like you are bumping up against a limit of some kind in terms of your team’s performance — it is almost certainly an issue with one or more of these practices.
Identify one that you want to grow in. Be intentional and purposeful about that growth.
You’ll start to see your team gel, performance improve, and even positive morale and enthusiasm grow.
Take good care,
Originally published at https://www.christianmuntean.com on June 15, 2021.