Wisdom//

Building A Team That Matters — Part 1

Team-building is a disruptive process for everyone involved. However, this does not mean that it should be a painful experience.


Over the last few months, I have agonized over why I can’t seem to get up to speed with growing my business. Despite some good business prospects, growth feels stifled. The more I think about it, I realize that it is time to build a team. To grow, something has to shift.

I read this from a friend’s story: “Two guys were walking from the farm and one of them fell into a deep pit. His friend tried to help him to come out but he failed. ‘Let me quickly go and look for a rope,’ the friend said. As he was coming back, he saw his friend already out of the pit and staring into the pit. He asked him how he managed to come out. ‘A snake fell into the pit!’ he replied.”

Growth is a disruptive process. It forces us out of our comfort zones, for if we do not respond, we stand to lose more than we can expect to gain. Growth is the snake that falls into our pit of indecision!

I took lime to think through successful and challenging teams I have worked with. I have identified 10 critical principles for my successful team, five of which I’ll share in my next article.

1. Know Your ‘Why’

One innate desire of any human being is to know that they belong. That they are cherished and wanted. However, what will keep your team engaged is knowing why they belong. This is a purpose, cause or reason to do something meaningful or belong to a unique space or cause. Teams that have a full grasp of their why far outlive any that do not. And this is irrespective of how much resources are at their disposal.

As a team leader, this is one value that you need to keep in sharp focus. Because why is the intrinsic value that determines how your team does something and for what reason. As Simon Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” To have a solid grasp and better understanding of why, check out Simon’s TED Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

2. Have Clear Standards

Teams thrive in structure and routine. This calls for you, the leader, to set the standards (or promote corporate standards) for your team. What are standards, you may ask. These are a set of steps, practices or values that are critical to the success of your product or service offering. Without standards, what is expected of team members quickly go out of focus.

Standards bring focus on what needs to be done, why is must be done, how it must be done, by whom, and when. Clear standards help your team to embrace your brand. By doing so, the team is better positioned to deliver your promise to clients, customers or partners. In other words, your brand is able to live in those you serve. Standards help your team towards unity of work.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

3. Lead From Expectations

In any assignment or relationship, when everyone is clear of what’s expected of them, there is a better flow or work and engagement. This is a two-way process. As the leader sets the general agenda for the team, it is important that each team member understands their role, contribution, end-game and consequences. I believe these four are the key attributes that constitute an expectation.

You need to appreciate that each person comes with experience that you were never part of. They may resist your authority at first. It is your responsibility to help transition the child into this new realm. The reality is that there will be many low moments. However, build on the positive experiences as you work on the obstacles or deficiencies.

4. Full Disclosure

If you want a team that engages with you, you must remain open and honest with them. They need to feel safe and know that they are in a caring environment. Your team must experience your authenticity. This is being true to your values as well as your talents. You cannot expect your team to account for their expenditure in time while you are always late in yours!

“When you give yourself permission to be open, real, and brilliant around others, you give others permission to be open, real, and brilliant around you,” says Robin Sharma in his book The Leader Who Had No Title.

5. Embrace Coaching

Every member on your team is on a journey to grow and better themselves. As a team leader, your quest must shift to support each team member towards actualization of self. “Coaching for development is about turning the focus from the issue to the person dealing with the issue, the person who’s managing the fire,” notes Michael B. Stanier in The Coaching Habit. “This conversation is more rare and significantly more powerful… The focus is on calling you forward to learn, improve and grow rather than on just getting something sorted out.”

Coaching is partnering with each team member in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. It focuses on creating awareness and facilitating you to take responsibility that increasingly expands your performance horizons.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

Look out for my other 5 Critical Principles For Successful Teams in Part 2 (my next post).


Originally published at www.leadbychoice.co on March 21, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com

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