Why is it so important?

The business world is facing more challenges than ever before as it manages the speed of change and competes with world markets at a time of economic down turn. Times of such challenge will see many organizations go to the wall. Those who succeed will look for the opportunities and make the most of their resources. How they deploy their people will make a very significant difference to their ability to succeed, as will their ability to work well together in world class teams.

A team is far more than a collection of individuals although many organizations settle for this model.

The strength of working in a great team is that you harness the very best of every person within it. But even that explanation fails to embrace the real magic and power that working in a world class team can create. The world of business has much to learn from the world class teams who create true human synergy within the World Eco Challenge. Perhaps it is when humans are faced with their most extreme physical challenges that we see them at their best and at their worst. Never the less the principles by which the winning teams operate are just as relevant in the board room and in the office as they are scaling the highest mountains or canoeing down alligator invested waters or shooting rapids.

If you want the very best out of your team you can apply the same principles and achieve your own powerful magic.

Team Principles:

Within a great team people perform consistently better, harder and faster because of their relationship with one another.

Remember that people work for people not for organizations.
Where there are strong connections between people and a sense of loyalty they can elevate their colleagues to achieve far more than they ever thought possible. The ability for team members to share, not only their strengths, but their fears and vulnerability can strengthen the team particularly when the team is determined to help everyone within the team succeed rather than be in competition with them. Magic happens when every member works hard to their own strengths and helps to minimize the weaknesses of their team mates by helping them to grow and develop too.

There needs to be total commitment to succeed. It is this commitment which keeps people going when things get difficult.

The team must have a clear sense of a shared purpose.

That commitment must be present at every stage: In defining what success will look like, in defining a clear sense of purpose, in the planning of how to achieve that success, preparing to make it succeed and in the perseverance on not giving up until the goal has been achieved

Attitude Is Everything

A team’s attitude will impact on their ability to succeed. The team which constantly seeks challenges which they relish and know they will find creative solutions rather than difficulties and problems which are getting in their way are far more likely to succeed consistently.

The old saying that pain is mandatory but suffering is optional is true. We can choose whether to suffer or not. We are judged not only by what we actually do but by our attitude in doing it. Do we play full out? Do we winge and moan or get on with changing the things we don’t like? Can we laugh at ourselves when things go wrong rather than feeling the victim?

Does ego get in the way? If the needs of the team are paramount there is no room for ego. Each person’s success or failure becomes that of the team. Far from pointing the finger and blaming the other person it is about asking what can I do to strengthen them, to help, coach and mentor them be the best they can be?

The most successful teams create a very specific type of thinking. Everyone looks for win – win situations. Team members are unselfish and keen to share ideas and the credit, if they see a job needs doing they get on and do it. They understand that the role of the leader is given rather than taken. They will allow others to take the lead when it is appropriate and be happy to take up the mantle when required.

Mutual Respect is vital

The power of the effective team is based on loyalty and respect. To ensure this, each team member must behave in a way that engenders loyalty and respect from others. They are not dependent on status or title, loyalty and respect have to be earned.

To create this culture it is important for everyone to listen. I mean REALLY LISTEN. To understand what the others are saying and to be prepared to assume the best of everyone. To be curious about why they are behaving in a particular way rather than making negative judgements about their actions.

Allowing people the space to manage the way in which they do things is important. By micro managing someone it is easy to give the implicit message “I have no confidence in you or your ability to get the job done!” When you expect others to succeed and give some room for them to achieve things in their way rather than your own you demonstrate confidence in them. It offers them an opportunity to grow. If you believe others believe in your ability it gives you confidence in yourself and shows you have their respect.

If you want something done in a very specific way – because the way it is done is important, then you need to communicate that explicitly at the time you delegate the job rather than as a constant dialogue during the project.

Team Behaviour Leads To Team Feelings

When teams work together and engage in “we” thinking they accomplish more than they would do if they worked separately.

Let’s consider that in the context of a racing team. Which of the following teams is more likely to succeed?

Team 1
Individuals each pack their equipment separately, taking an equal share of what is required for the whole event.

Team 2
The team works together to look at the equipment list. They identify the strongest and weakest member of the team for each event and pack the equipment so that the strongest person in each event is carrying the greater weight. Their mandate is that we will finish the race together. We are as strong as the weakest member and we work as one to make everyone as strong as they can be.

In Team One they are not only in competition with the other teams but with one another. How often do your teams work against the interests of one another giving your organizations competitors the edge?

In Team Two they each take responsibility for the performance of every member of their team. The only competition comes from outside the team. How could this principle enhance your organisations profitability?

Create A Sense Of Ownership

Human beings tend to resent things they feel have been imposed upon them. When a member of a team buys into the project and believes that they have a valuable contribution to achieving success they will give their all.

When people truly own the issue they will do everything in their power to make things happen in order to succeed. The Starbuck principle is that you can teach anyone to make coffee but their success has been built on making buying a cup of coffee a pleasant experience for every customer. It relies on every member of staff understanding that their contribution to the mission really counts, that the reputation of the organization is only as good as each person’s action.

Letting Go Of Ego

Robyn Benincasa has been a member of the winning team in The World Eco Challenge on several occasions; she refers to ego as the heaviest thing in the pack.

She believes that many people don’t ask for help because they believe it will make them look weak. Her principle is that asking for help is like offering the other person a gift and that if we are offered help we should accept it on principle. By doing so you create a bridge which can forge incredibly strong lasting relationships.

If you allow someone else to be your hero the relationship is deepened, even more so when you give due credit for that help. Most of us love to help others as it makes us feel good about ourselves yet we are loathe to give others the same opportunity to help us. Try giving others the gift of helping you and notice what a difference it can make.

Develop Living Leadership

Creating the opportunity for different leaders to emerge can strengthen your team. Utilise the strengths, talents and experience of these within the team. Develop a culture where the leader changes as appropriate to the task at hand so that the person who has the greatest strength in that particular section takes the lead at that time. When the process becomes seamless you will have a team which is truly flying.

The Managers Role

The manager’s role in all this is to put the team together, ensuring that it includes the right mix of people. It is to define the project and the criteria by which success will be judged. It is to ensure that the team has all the resources they need to be successful and that the team has the right people in it.

People are our most valuable resource one which is often frittered away. By creating winning teams you will not only give everyone a more satisfying working experience but in doing so increase productivity and decrease staff absence and turn over. A truly win – win situation.


Author's Bio: 

Gina Gardiner is one of the UK's leading Leadership Coaches.
Gina supports people at individual or organizational level to develop confidence, leadership and people skills. Gina is the author of two books “Kick Start Your Career” and “How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively and is also a Neuro Linguistic Master Practitioner and a qualified coach.
To download her free management ecourse...graduatesolutions.co.uk

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