MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you build a strong team? is written by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.
It might be easy to think that the way to build a strong team is to just choose strong team members. However, identifying and securing the right talent is only half of the equation. The rest relies on a leader to articulate an inspiring vision and create an environment that drives trust, excellence and accountability balanced with motivating the team to win together.
It may not be obvious, but the expression of a vision and strategy is often an important first step for securing the “right” talent. Having a great vision helps you select like-minded individuals that “fit” with the company and the other team members who are also passionate about the potential opportunity. Establishing a strategy helps identify the best organizational structure and the needed skill sets to deliver the goal. Talent tends to be attracted to a leader with a well-articulated plan, where their skills are both needed and appreciated. And it certainly helps if they can “see” how they will personally create value.
Next, the leader must create an environment that fosters teamwork. The stakes are high. A group of very talented people in a dysfunctional situation can be more destructive than a group with average talent all moving in the same direction. Additionally, teamwork, or the lack thereof, is often modeled by other teams. For example, team dynamics at the C-level often sets the stage for “how” teams work throughout the company.
By focusing on evangelizing the following four T.E.A.M. tenets, a leader can drive the difference between having a group of people who happen to work side-by-side and having a successful team that is on a mission to deliver common goals together.
Trust. The leader must grant trust to the team and its individual members. In turn the team members must trust each other and the leader. Note that ‘business trust’ requires both integrity and capability.
Excellence. I have found that if you provide clarity and coaching, people have a tendency to rise to expectations. So, expect excellence.
Accountability. Each person must feel personally accountable to their team members, the company, the customer and the other stakeholders to deliver against stated timelines, objectives and financial goals. They must believe that team “wins” are more important than individual “wins.”
Motivation. Of course, the leader can encourage the team to take needed actions by offering financial rewards. However, innate motivation is a very powerful tool. Leaders must inspire passion in their people. Ensuring that the team is comprised of positive people that motivate each other can improves both well-being and productivity.
Finally, make sure the team meets regularly, keeping these four tenets in mind. The meetings should be to check progress against goals and share information. The forum should also be designed to build camaraderie. The good and the bad should be discussed and disagreements resolved. And there should be a mutual understanding that when the meeting is over, disagreements are set aside and the team must continue to support the position of the group to the outside organization.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you build a strong team?
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How to build a strong team without micromanaging by Sally Blount, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
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