7 SECRETS FOR BUILDING HIGH IMPACT TEAMS

Teams are all around us – at work, your kids’ soccer practice, company softball, and at the advent of a natural disaster. And your team experience may range from terrific to a debacle.

Teams succeed best when there is trust, purpose, vision, clarity, goals, commitment and community. And with each person having a potentially different style, values, approaches and points of view your team experience could be a powder keg of conflict and a lack of execution. How do you align a group of individuals into one cohesive, trusting and unified team?

Whether you are leading a project team, an executive team or a division or department and overseeing a team from 1 to 10,000 people, here are some strategies to keep in mind:

  • Answer makers – show confidence that the group has the answers or if they don’t, they know how to get it.
  • Differences make us great – differences contribute to our success. One person may be more introverted and shy, or may value data over people development, or be a practicing Methodist, either way, people are diverse. Take to understand the team points of views and why they see life the way they do.
  • Disagreements means just that – disagreements might not mean anything is wrong, could simply be that someone else has a different point of view. It doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with the relationship or the person. People simply see the world differently. Dismantle disagreements to get the heart of the issue.
  • You may be the issue – when there is an issue with the team, take a close look in the mirror and ask yourself, how am I contributing to the issues we have? You could be a participant and perhaps the cause.
  • Encourage mutual learning – engender a culture of curiosity. Advocate for learning new skills to bring back and share with the group.
  • Engender compassion – while a person may have a talent for caring for others, some may not. Encourage the group to empathize with each other and to grow their collective emotional intelligence.
  • Clarity is king – ensure everyone’s roles, responsibilities, goals and priorities are so clear that the group is uber focused. When the team gets off track its’ your responsibility to understand why. If the group complains, dig deep. Maybe there is misalignment on the vision, purpose or poor feedback mechanisms. Examine and reset!
  • Chief Inspiration Officer – a great team leader inspires the group to perform their best and to fail completely. When you encourage transparent communication about success or failure, the team can truly win.
  • Mind language – as humans we simply use a lot of words and lingo that may have little or no meaning. Mind the words people use to ensure understanding and intention.
  • Focusing on the small and big picture – getting caught up in the day to day will happen. Ensure the team is seeing through a microscope when necessary and the telescope as a gauge for where you are headed.

When the first Toy Story movie was being developed, during an initial screening of the first half of the film, it was clear that the characters weren’t impactful and the storyline was unfocused. The film was in danger and John Lasseter, Pixar’s co-founder and head of animation got a 2-week extension.

The team went into an intense time of activity dealing with the issues of the film with absolute honesty. The threat of the film shut down was the jet propulsion that kept them going. What happened was “magical”! The team reshaped the opening third of the movie and it worked. Disney lauded the Pixar creative team as superstars.

The group trusted their instincts and each other to be critical in a way that best supported the team and the work; they put their own egos aside to be there for each other; they put their best ideas out there without fear of what people will say; and trusted that if critical feedback was given with the intention of improving the film they would be supported. Their “big picture” mentality worked.

Leading a team with grace is not easy and yet is some of the most gratifying work. Take the advice of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

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