Good Leaders Build Great Teams

leaderAs we start off the New Year, it’s important for entrepreneurs to remember that it’s not all about them, it’s about the team. There is only so much one can accomplish alone. However, with a team, the possibilities are limitless. A great New York Times piece, How to Build a Successful Team, highlighted key elements of a great team. In a nutshell, the 5 main components are:

  1. Make a Plan
  2. Rules of the Road
  3. Show a Little Respect
  4. It’s About the Team
  5. Have Conversations

Having the vision or making the plan, is the leader’s job. “How” is up to the team. Teams cannot coalesce around a weak or poorly understood plan. The leader must make it very clear and explicit what the expectations are, what outcome or results are expected, and how it will be measured.

The rules of the road are about culture and how the leader’s job is to set the culture. Bottom line, this should be done prior to hiring anyone on the team because a team’s culture is already baked. The leader’s job is to diligently define and manage this as a guidepost for the rest of the organization. Hiring a cultural misfit will shift culture into a different direction and almost always not the intended one. The result is productivity will slide and likely so will morale.

Show a little respect is very important. Treating people as we would want to be treated (Golden Rule) is the only way to motivate people. Disrespecting, yelling, abusing and negative behaviors on the leader’s part will only degrade the performance of the team. No one performs well for an obnoxious boss so don’t be that guy.

So often we forget that it’s not about us as leaders, it’s about the team. They are the ones accomplishing the goals. We need to respect them as human beings if we expect any sort of quality product to be produced. Acknowledge when they are on track and when they are off. Celebrate the team, not the leader.

Lastly, don’t practice “seagull management,” meaning flying in and dropping a load all over your team and their plans. Have regular conversations about what they are trying to accomplish, what resources they need, how are they progressing, and how are they doing against the goals and the scorecards. Set them up for success with regular conversations that move projects forward, not backward.

Assuming you have the right team, this practice will work well for you. However, if you have one or two cultural misfits on your team, now would be a good time to decide how to get them up or out. If they are not with you and the rest of the team, they are against you. This sets everyone up for an uphill battle and in the end, there will only be losers not winners in this scenario.