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Building Your Team For Success

We are looking forward to 2019, and you may be evaluating the performance of your team and considering adjustments. Let’s take a few minutes to look at teams versus groups, and the kind of people who can maximize your team’s performance.

In organizational theory, A group is a number of individuals forming a unit for a reason or cause, and a team is a collection of accomplished people coming together for a common goal that needs completion.

We may have people that we go to for support, encouragement and the like as part of our group. We are friends and can come from different backgrounds, and do different kinds of work. The reason we are together can be because we simply like one another or have common interests (like music, politics, or entrepreneurial endeavors). We have things in common and that makes us a group.

A team on the other hand is made up of accomplished people who come together to complete a common goal. Their accomplishments – what they do well or have achieved – make them a valuable part of the team because we need those skills to complete a goal. Think football team – maybe baseball would be better because I actually know the positions: there’s one catcher, pitcher, one person at every base, a short stop between second and third base, and three people in the outfield. Each player has a territory they are supposed to cover and expertise in that position, but none of them can field an inning alone. You need a team.

As humans we naturally gravitate toward people who think like we do because we are comfortable with them. To have an effective team, however, it is necessary to have people who DON’T THINK LIKE YOU in every area. Following is a checklist of those who should be on an effective team.

  • You need a Visionary (Hopefully that’s you). Your team has come together to accomplish something; what is it? Is it an increased profit margin, new product development, attraction of a different type of customer? As the visionary it is your job to lay out vision for the team to build upon. All your team members need to have vision for their own lives that intersects and compliments the organization’s vision. If your vision for the organization or area you serve is unclear, the team will have a difficult time reaching goals. Unclear vision presents a target that’s hard to hit and easy to miss. An unclear vision also provides easy excuses for why others are not meeting their goals. Remember vision is just a daydream without a plan and execution that brings the vision to life. Here’s a note: Too many visionaries in a room will get very little done outside of inspiration.

  • You need a Trouble Shooter. One of the most fascinating characters in the bible to me was Jehu. He was a King in Israel mentioned in the Bible in 2 Kings 9. When the prophet was told to go and anoint him as king, the prophet’s instructions were to give Jehu his assignment and run without delay. Jehu had an anointing to kill what was out of order. You need someone on your team who can kill nonsense and unproductive conversation. Teams can go right or very left if there isn’t someone in the trenches with them who has the disposition and boldness to say, “Cut it out. This is a waste of time,” to their peers. I worked as part of a leadership team once where a man who was short in stature but tallest in courage described himself this way: “I’m a troubleshooter. I shoot trouble.” He told the truth and was greatly respected, though not always liked. He was a necessary part of the team. As a leader, however, you must balance the troubleshooter, lest some of your team gets wounded with friendly fire.

  • You need a Cheerleader. The person with the sunny disposition is necessary. Businesses can be full of “glass half empty” people depending on what’s happening in the company. You need a realistic optimist who will look for a solution to the problem while everyone else is moaning about the half-empty glasses. The optimist/encourager genuinely wants to be liked by everyone, which we know isn’t always possible. Sometimes the desire to be liked and avoid confrontation can keep this team member silent, so let them know their insight is valuable, even when others on the team don’t like what they offer.

  • You need an Influencer. This person may not be in your meetings, but they need to be on your team. He or she may be a board member, a mentor or a friend. The Influencer on your team is able and willing to open doors of opportunity for you and/or your organization. The reason the influencer is able is because of their relationships with those outside of your organization. The reason he or she is willing is because of their relationship with you. Pursue authentic relationships with others in business and not “opportunities to use”.

  • You need a Confronter. This is someone who asks hard questions and will draw you back to the mission of your group or organization. The confronter may not be the most liked member of the team, but he or she is necessary. As a leader, people may go along with you for a variety of reasons that aren’t always healthy: to not make waves, to get noticed, to be your friend or because they want something from you. A true confronter might care more about the mission and perhaps even the leader, than the average team member because they are willing to risk your displeasure to tell you the truth. To maintain order, make sure that even in confrontation esteem for colleagues and the group is maintained.

As you plan for your team’s improvement, it goes without saying that each of these individuals also has expertise in marketing, finance, legal and other areas pertinent to your organization. This article is to help you not overlook or minimize a potentially valuable member of your team because of their personality.

One of my favorite illustrations of the power of disagreement in a leadership team was in the movie World War Z. Although fictional, a strategy was employed that stated if nine members of a team came to the same conclusion, the tenth was obligated to assume they were all wrong and identify a solution in case they were. Here’s the clip.

Michele Aikens is a certified coach specializing in leadership teams and women in transition. Follow her on Twitter @sepiaprimewoman or email her here:

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