Category: Leadership

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Julie and the others settled into their seats at a small conference table waiting for the meeting to begin. Julie is a small business owner and has been coming to these meetings for the past year. She looks around the room at the other business leaders she has come to know over the past year and can’t believe how lucky she has been to be part of this group.

“This meeting changed the way I am as a leader. For the better. My business is successful because of the suggestions and ideas I have gotten in this meeting. And let’s face it, without the accountability of this meeting, I would not be where I am today.”

About a year and a half ago, Julie was selected and joined a mastermind group. Although Julie had not heard of it until she joined the Mastermind Group, Masterminds have been around for hundreds of years. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed a group with twelve other tradespeople named the Junto. In early 1900’s Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started a group called The Vagabonds whose members included Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs, and Warren Harding. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Sherly Sandberg and others all participate in mastermind groups.

A Mastermind Group is a group of like-minded individuals who work together to help each other be successful. It provides a comfortable, confidential and challenging space where participants can discuss the issues most pressing to them. Their peers will ask deep clarifying questions to understand their challenges and then provide insight based on their experiences.

Mastermind can be formed around any topic that makes sense for the participants. As an executive coach, I use masterminds to help leaders within the small business community to improve their leadership. Other people use masterminds to support first-time parents, business owners, librarians, police officers, and even coaches*.

Each mastermind runs a little different but has some common traits. Most masterminds are small groups with no more than fifteen individuals in each mastermind. This size group allows each participant a chance to experience “the accountability seat” or “the hot seat” during each session. The accountability seat gives everyone an opportunity to share their challenge and listen to the perspective of other members as they ask curious questions and provide insights from their experience. At the end of a meeting, each member commits to some action that will help them overcome their challenge.

There is power in the mastermind as it provides a variety of perspective, increases accountability and fosters better outcomes for all the individuals involved. In one of my mastermind groups, it took only a couple meetings before; I started seeing improvement in the leadership skills of the participants.

As part of my mastermind groups, I offer individualized leadership coaching to all members if they are interested. I can help them create a plan of action and hold them to it between meetings. Most participants opt-in for this as they see the benefit of having a professional coach work through their problems with them.

The longer the tenure of the meeting the deeper the participants are willing to go to improve their outcomes. In time, friendships usually develop and become part of the process to help each other grow.

There are a few organizations who do this as a business including TAB (The Advisory Board), Vistage, and CEO Focus. Each organization has it is strengths and challenges, and I would suggest researching them before joining to make sure you have the one that fits you best. In the end, I decided to run my own because I believe that I could provide a different type of experience and wanted to reach a different kind of business owner.

John Thalheimer is the Executive Director of True Star Leadership. He has a fundamental belief that every organization and every employee deserves a great leader. Since early in his career John wanted to understand why some leaders were successful and others were not. Moreover, what he found surprised him. He earned his Master’s in Organizational Leadership and is dual certified in business coaching. John is working on his book titled, The Behavioral Algorithm, the secret formula for success. He currently runs masterminds in middle Tennessee and online to help leaders within the small business community succeed.

*If you are interested in learning more or interested in joining one of my mastermind groups, please reach out to me at john@johnthalheimer.com. Also if you are a coach, please think about joining my coaching mastermind group, as the benefits will apply to you as well.

 

The Conversation

The Conversation

The Conversation:

It is time for you to have the conversation.

I know it is uncomfortable. Sure, they could read about it on the internet. Sure, you could read about it on the internet. Sure, someone else could do it.

You do know it is your responsibility, right?

Oh, I do not mean that conversation. You do need to talk to your sons and daughters but today, I am talking about The Leadership Conversation.

The Leadership Conversation is about how leaders in your organizations will work. What values are important in your organization? How leaders will achieve business results? How they will show respect to their stakeholders? How they will behave at work and beyond?

What, you have not had the leadership conversation with the leaders in your organization? Oh boy, you might want to sit down for this. The good news is you are not alone. Most organizational leaders do not have the conversation with their leadership. Why should they, everyone knows what it means to be a leader, right?

In my presentation, A Deep Dive into Leadership, I ask the participants to define what a leader is. Do you know, I have rarely gotten the same answer twice? In fact, I usually have to cut the conversation short because we cannot agree on what a leader is. If you check out the latest books, blog posts, podcasts, or websites, you will note that every one of them defines a leader a little bit different based on their perspective.

For organizations, leadership defines much in the way they operate; what values are important to the organization; how leaders treat people within the organization; what results leaders are expected to achieve; how the day to day works.

How we define leadership shapes the way we see our place in the world. If we see a leader as someone who influences other people, we tend to believe leaders will build relationships. If we see a leader as someone who directs other people, we tend to believe that leaders will give us the information we need to be successful. Neither approach is wrong, just different; but each perspective influences how we operate in our organization.

Making the necessary effort to discuss what a leader is in our organization, allows us to create a common understanding of leadership. This conversation does not have to be difficult and can simply be an exercise in one of your staff meetings or can be a facilitated conversation during an offsite.

The goal here is not to get a single answer of what a leader is in your organization, it is to create an understanding of how leaders will act in your organization. The best way to do this is through asking curious questions to your team and listening to their answers.

For Example:

  • What are our organizational values?
  • What leadership behaviors would you attribute to these values?
  • What role does leadership play in your organization?
  • How do you classify a leader in your organization?
  • What is the definition of a leader do we all agree upon?
  • How will leaders in our organization achieve the best results?

Working with organizations, I hear the phrases, “getting back to the basics,” and “getting on the same page,” expressed a lot. Why not start with defining what leadership means to your organization.

 

John Thalheimer is The Leadership Guide. He believes that every employee and every organization deserves a great leader. He works with leaders to help them achieve better business results through coaching. He is dual certified in coaching from the Marshal Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching Program and The Institue of Social & Emotional Intelligence. He has a master’s of Organizational Leadership and is working on his upcoming, The Manager’s Field Guide to Coaching: How to Improve Performance at Work.  

 

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

Five Steps to Take After Vacation

It is Tuesday after Labor Day, and millions of workers are returning to work. Emails have piled up. Meetings have been scheduled. Reports need to be finished. 2017 Budgets have to be reviewed and approved.

It is less than thirty days to the fourth quarter and the year’s end.

Stress starts the minute you arrive at work. The vacation glow is gone.

However here are five things you can do to be more productive after a vacation.

  1. Print out and display one or two photographs of you and your loved ones on vacation. The photograph will remind you of what is important in life.
  2. Share your best vacation memory with coworkers. No one wants to view all your vacation photos but sharing a story helps build rapport with the team, especially if it was a positive or funny experience.
  3. Start a new habit. Because you have gotten out of the work routine for a few days, it is a good time to start a new habit. Maybe it is taking a walk on break, or eating lunch with a different coworker every day, or reading leadership articles on a daily basis.
  4. Ask for and listen to the challenges and victories that arose while you were gone. Did one of your direct reports handle a project while you were gone? Did one of your coworkers get budget approval for hiring a new employee? It is a great time to express gratitude to your team.
  5. Focus on your long-term goals. When you return to work after vacation, it is easy to focus on “getting things done,” like deleting emails. It gives you a temporary sense of progress but won’t move you closer to your long-term goals. Take a half hour and review your long terms goals for 2016 and 2017 and make a list of ten accomplishes you will have by the end of the week and then focus on them.
  6. Bonus: Check in with your boss. I am surprised how many people return to their workplace and don’t check in with their manager right away. They can give you an idea what the hot issues are and what to focus your time on.

Take a deep breath – you have this.

Be Productive – Go On Vacation

Be Productive – Go On Vacation

Going on Vacation might seem counterproductive to all the Type A’s in my reading audience; “I can’t be productive if I am on vacation.” Without vacation, you cannot be productive at work for the long term. In one period of my life, I was managing the studio operations for a major television network, and we were launching a new state of the art studio. During this time, I was working thirteen to fourteen hour days, seven days a week; it was a fun and exhilarating work, but after two to three months, my productivity at work was about seventy-five percent of what it had been when we started the project. Additionally, I was making judgmental mistakes and becoming irritable. In fact, all of my colleagues and I were. The vice-president sent us all home on a Friday afternoon and told us not to return until Monday morning. It was the best thing he could have done for the team and our productivity.

In today’s work environment, we tend to focus our energy on the tasks at hand, churning through the day’s to-do list and moving on to the next “important” item. As we do this, our brain is consuming twenty percent of the energy our body is producing and even more when we focus on high-level problem solving (Raichel, University of Washington). It is no wonder; we are all exhausted at the end of the day.

In looking at high performing athletes, musicians, and artists, researchers noted that most engage in deliberate practice for periods of no more than four hours. Researchers found that any amount of time above this, negatively impact performance, increasing physical injuries and mental fatigue (Ericson, Florida State University). Now, I don’t think we will change the eight-hour work structure any time soon, but I do believe that we need to look at the lack of rest on our performance.

Without rest (time away from work), our brain and body are challenged to produce the necessary energy to perform continuously at a high level. The side effects of too much work, not enough play, include poor decision making, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of performance. In Europe and other industrialized economies vacation is highly valued with mandatory vacation days reaching as high as twenty days per year. In the United States, only half the working population gets any paid vacation days and those that do average around eight days.

Going on vacation, allows us to reduce stress, recharges our bodies and gives our brains a chance to replenish itself. According to Ferris Jaber at Scientific America, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance. . .” If we don’t have downtime, our brain continues to work but will slowly reduce its output impacting all areas of our lives.

My advice – take a long vacation and enjoy some downtime, reset yourself for the fourth quarter push we all know is around the bend. You will thank me later.

Lessons from the Big Swim

Lessons from the Big Swim

The rain fell from the silver-grey sky onto the group of us. Standing on the windswept beach, we listened to the words we did not want to hear. The Big Swim was canceled due to the weather conditions. My brother and forty-five other swimmers had spent the better half of the year training to swim the 17 kilometers (10 miles) across the North Cumberland Strait from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island only to be disappointed.

The lead organizer had talked about the difference between our expectations and reality and defined it as the feeling of disappointment.  On that Sunday Morning, there were many disappointed people on the beach, some cried, some sighed, some bent their head in quiet prayer. A few optimistic souls shouted, “next year,” a rallying cry to know the effort, discipline and sacrifice had meant something.

As a support kayaker and a witness to the hard-work it takes to prepare for such a quest, I too was disappointed, for me, for my brother and for all those you had worked hard to be left standing in the rain on the beach; our goal was just out of reach across 17 kilometers of turmoil and lighting.

On my way home, I could not help but think that there were lessons to be learned from the Big Swim about how to achieve our own dreams. Below are the six lessons I learned and how they can help us achieve our goals faster.

  1. Preparation: The North Cumberland Straight, 17 kilometers wide at its narrowest, is known for its strong tidal currents and roaring winds. It is not a place to take for granted. Preparation is critical to the success of any who plan to swim across it. Training started with rising early every day and swimming. First in the pool, then in a lake, and then in the ocean until the swimmer was physically and mentally prepared to make the attempt.
  2. Support: The bigger your goal, the more support you will need. The support will come in a variety of sizes, from the little to the large. Before the event, my brother’s wife gave him support to train by watching their two young kids every Saturday morning. The organizers provided constant communication to make sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful. The day of the event, hundreds of supporters from kayak carriers, check-in volunteers, boat captains, and family members made sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful.
  3. Community: Community is essential to success. My brother met and trained with a group of like-minded swimmers from his home town. He learned from their experience; shared his expertise and leaned on them as the training took its toll. In the early Sunday morning dawn, together they lessened the disappointment of not swimming with laughter and hugs, sharing the loss to diminish its impact.
  4. Limitations: We all have limitations. We can choose to let them define us, or we can push against them. In the group of swimmers who were attempting the Big Swim, the ages ranged from 11 to 73 years. None of them let their limitations define them. The eleven-year-old could have let those who said it was too dangerous for her to stop her from doing what she wanted. She did not; she was in wave three – the elite swimmers; ready to go.
  5. Drive: The swimmers who had completed the swim before said that there is a time in the middle of the straight when exhaustion has crept into your muscles, and the sky and ocean have blended into one, you think about quitting but you continue till your feet hit the sand. No matter the goal, we have all reached that place where we want to stop. Those that are successful keep going pushing forward by an inner drive toward their goal.
  6. Celebration: Soon after the announcement of the cancellation of the Big Swim, a quiet applause rose from the crowd on the beach and slowly turned into a standing ovation for the swimmers. The applause was recognizing the effort they had made to reach this point on the beach, the hard-work, the dedication, and scarifies they made. We too need to recognize our progress and celebrate our wins.

 

Goals are just dreams without wings.

 

Even in disappointment, there are lessons to be learned. Thomas Eidson once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” No matter what we dream of accomplishing, we can not do it without a lot of hard-work, dedication, and sacrifice. As you plan your next business adventure, think about these six lessons and how you can apply them to achieving your dreams. As a leadership guide, I help people plan their dreams and provide the necessary skills and tools for them to be successful. If you are ready to start your journey, let’s get together and begin the work required for you to reach your dreams.

Are You Ready to be Coached?

Are You Ready to be Coached?

“Are you ready to be coached?”

“Yes. Of course, I am. I mean, I think I am. Is it that hard?”

Being coached is hard. You need to open yourself to change your behavior to improve your performance. Coaching is the ability to listen to another’s perspective and use that information to make internal adjustments to your behavior to better your performance. Marshall Goldsmith, the #1 Executive Coach in the World, has an exercise he taught me called the Daily Questions. In short, it is a list of behavioral changes that you agree to work to improve every day. When he gives out this assignment, he notes that only fifty percent of individuals last more than two weeks using this system. It is not difficult. The system is not time-consuming. It takes no more than ten minutes to complete. All you do is rate yourself on a scale of one to ten on this simple question for each behavior, “Did you do your best to change your behavior?”

So why do people fail in completing this simple task?

For some, it is a lack of discipline. Although the individual knows that changing these behaviors will allow them to reach their goal, they cannot find the discipline to do this on a regular basis. In fact, Marshall falls into this category. He had to hire an accountable coach who is responsible for calling him each evening to make sure he has completed this simple task. This may seem like an extreme measure but think about how important your goals are to you and what success looks like.

For others, it is hard to recognize our habitual failures. We don’t want to look in the mirror and admit that we were not able to resist that last chocolate chip cookie or do a better job delegating at work, or the ability to listen well. I fell into this category when I first tried doing the exercise, I was afraid of admitting that I was not doing my best to reach my goal and I was responsible for not being successful.

So how do we continue to improve if we can’t handle this simple exercise? The best way is to create a level of accountability that will help you move toward your goal. This can be done by asking someone to invest in your improvement, this could be a mentor, coworker, friend, or even spouse. Unfortunately, we need to remember that they are not as invested in obtaining our goal as we are.

Another way is to find a group of like-minded people who are also on the same journey as you. Your Tribe. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, go to a gym and find like-minded people and work out together to reach your goals. Or join a mastermind group or peer advisory group that is working toward similar goals and that will hold you accountable. I am always amazed at the number and diversity of mastermind groups available to people.  (Learn more about mastermind here).

Lastly, you can invest in an accountability/personal coach to work with you to help you reach your goal. The benefits of working with a coach are that they are trained to help individuals improve their performance. They know how to ask insightful questions, open you up to what is holding you back and provide you the support you need to be successful. (Learn more about coaching here)

So, I leave you this question — Are you willing to be coached to reach your goals?

Resources:

Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith

In this book, Marshall Goldsmith shares his experience coaching executives and how they create behavior that lasts to become the person they want to be and how we can do the same. Click here for more information

Tribe – Seth Godin

In this book, Seth Godin introduces us to the importance of like-minded people and how by working together we can achieve better results than we can by working alone. click here for more information

How to Get Better at Things You Care About – Eduardo Briceno

Great Video on being our better selves. Learn the difference between the performance zone and the learning zone and by switching between the two we can start improving the things we most care about. click here for more information

 

Breaking Free

Breaking Free

This morning, like most mornings, I practiced Yoga. Throughout the last ten years or so, I have used Yoga to compliment my other workouts, such as cycling, running, swimming and weightlifting. It provides me with thirty minutes of uninterrupted focus on my body while at the same time preparing my mind for the day.

The same happens when we push against our zone of comfort. Our Zone of Comfort can be defined as an emotional state where you are most comfortable. You perform your best. You are most relaxed. You are most confident. You have your strongest relationships. Your knowledge matches the knowledge of the assigned responsibilities. There is also a dark side to the zone of comfort, it can be the place where we hide our talents from the world because of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of Failure. Fear of newness.

For most of my life, I was afraid of public speaking. In fact, most people are afraid of public speaking. This tidbit, however, didn’t help me with my fear. It took years and a lot of practice for me to be comfortable talking in front of an audience. And let’s make this clear, by comfortable, I mean that I understand that I will have strong emotions around public speaking but I know that I can channel these emotions into positive behaviors that benefit my audience.

Yet by stretching my zone of comfort around public speaking, I was able to become more confident in my other interpersonal relationships. I was better able to talk to people in positions of power; I was better able to communicate to my staff about our goals; I was better able to network with people whom I just met.

Stretching your zone of comfort, no matter what activity who choose whether it is learning a new skill, going to a foreign country, presenting your ideas to the executive team, or introducing yourself to a group, is an important step towards success.

Some basic guidelines to stretching your zone of comfort.

  • Start small. If you are going to learn a new language, you need to get the basics understood before you start worrying about complex sentence structure.
  • Consistent and Continuous practice. Like muscles, for you to keep stretching your zone of comfort you need to continually push at regular intervals for you to keep it in place.
  • Ask for support. Whether it is a teacher or a coach, ask an expert to help you gain knowledge and skills. Their expert guidance will help you achieve our goal faster.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is a normal process of learning. It tells us what not to do and reinforces us on what to do. I can’t’ tell you how many times, I fell out of Yoga poses as I learned them.
  • Persistence. Keep at it. You will get better. When I look back on the public speaker I was in college to the public speaker I am now, the change is amazing.

Every day is another day to pursue your dreams, to chase away your fear and to be a better you. Take advantage of it.

The Myth of the Alpha Dog

The Myth of the Alpha Dog

My wife and I have adopted two puppies this year, and as I was researching how to potty train our younger dog, I came across the headline, “The Myth of the Alpha Dog.” The article discussed how our belief that dog packs structures are based on an alpha dog or dominant dog is false. And that dogs have a more cooperative approach to pack structure.

This same myth is pervasive throughout our discussions on leadership. In the west, we have mythologized the single person as the saver of the world. The man on the white horse who comes in to save the day. When we talk about great discoveries, we talk about them as if a single person made the discovery. Admiral Peary had over 50 people with him as he tried to reach the North Pole in 1909 but the names of the other people have all been forgotten. We talk about great inventions; we talk as if a single person invented the light bulb. However, Thomas Edison had a team of “young muckers” working with him at Menlo Park. In the world of leadership, we talk of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, both who are famous for the companies they started. However both had strong partners working with them; Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates had Paul Allen. This isn’t to say that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are not brilliant men, it is just to say that rarely do we do anything in isolation.

My research and experience have led me to the conclusion that the leadership team is more important than the single leader of an organization. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the importance of having the right people on the bus. This is even more important the closer you get to the top of any organization.

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

 

Why are leadership teams more valuable than a single leader?

  1. They provide a greater level of experience.
  2. They provide balance against a singular strength or limitation
  3. They offer diversity of thought.
  4. They provide the ability to delegate work
  5. They provide increased touch points to an organization

This does not mean that a leader can abdicate her responsibility for the team. It means that she has more resources to make the best decisions, create the best strategic vision and build the best team.

When I work to improve leadership teams, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Are the right individuals on the leadership team?
  • What behavioral changes will make them a better leadership team?
  • What is their level of motivation to improve the working dynamics?
  • How do they discuss different points of views?
  • Are they focused on the same vision of the organization?

Always start with an assessment of the team’s strengths and limitations. This gives a good understanding of what is working well together and what is not. I usually use an assessment tool, followed up with individual interviews. This provides an excellent groundwork to start working with the team to improve their team dynamic. Working with the leader and the team, we create a path to developing the leadership team dynamic. The goal is to understand the strengths and limitations of each member and that of the team. If you can create positive connections and a desire to move the organization forward, the team dynamic will improve.

The goal here is not to remove the leader or to dismiss the leader. The goal here is to provide a team of individuals working together to assist the leader in their challenges of running a large organization.  To create a cooperative approach to the team structure.

 

Together we are stronger than we are alone.

Walter Payton

 

 

What Light Do You Cast?

What Light Do You Cast?

He and I had worked together for a few years when he stopped by my office. He needed an unbiased ear to help with a staff issue. His team had taken on the habit of always criticizing each other. At first, he thought it was a good sign because he believed that they had started to bond. But the more he listened, the less he liked what he heard. They were disrespectful to each other.

He didn’t know what to do.

 

The people that you have around you are your biggest influence.

RJ Mitte

 

I asked him how their performances were. He described a litany of issues that each of his team members was having. Listening to him, I would not have believed there was a good one in the bunch.

“How valuable are the players on your team to the organization’s goals?”

“Valuable,” he replied, “we have accomplished so much.”

“When was the last time you told them?” He stopped, pausing, “It had been awhile.”

“When you talk about their performance do you focus on how well they are doing or what they can be doing better?”

“I want them to be better so we can keep doing amazing things.”

“I get that,” I explained, “but let me ask you this, why do you think they criticize each other?”

It took him a moment, but he realized that they were following his lead.

Our job as leaders is to influence those individuals around us. And we do this by our behaviors. Studies have shown that people adopt similar patterns of behaviors from those they respect and those that are in positions of power. I separated respect and power because they are different qualities. Respect is something that is earned within an organization. Power is something that is given due to a higher level of authority. Great leaders get their power through respect. Bad leaders get their respect through power.

In either case, we are apt to imitate the behaviors of those around us. We can see this easily in our families. Think about your parents, what behaviors of theirs, do you do? For example, my father is an avid hiker, each week leading hikes through the mountains of South and North Carolina’s. I too am an avid hiker and enjoy hiking in the woods whenever I get a chance.

At work, this influence may not be as easily recognized but does happen. I collaborated with a group of individuals who were all fantastic about being open about their strengths and their limitations. At first, I was guarded and spoke more of my strengths, but as time passed, I noticed that I too was talking about my limitations. This built trust up in the group and allowed us to work together to get the best possible outcomes.

Our behaviors influence those around us.

The good news is that we also positively affect people. Have you ever worked for a manager who was good at going on break, leaving on time and taking vacations? I bet, in time, you started to get these habits as well.

 

There is no influence like the influence of habit.

Gilbert Parker

 

The aim is to know that your behaviors affect those around you and to make the best effort to influence their behaviors positively. When you have a behavior that is negatively impacting the team, focus on it and work to improve it. If you can share your work to change your behavior with the team, even better. This action will stop them from imitating you and may also provide you feedback so you can continue to improve.

The Leadership Team

The Leadership Team

Donald Trump has been elected 45th President of the United States of America. The moment Hilary Clinton conceded, his transition team started working in overdrive to figure out who would serve on his Leadership Team.

In his Book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about how important it is to have the right people on the bus as you lead an organization to greatness. Mr. Collins stresses, and I whole heartily agree, it is not about having one genius and a thousand soldiers. It is about having a team of equals working together to achieve greatness. In his cabinet, Abraham Lincoln had a team of rivals because he wanted to get best people for his team.

 

“We” multiplies the power of “I”.”
― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

 

Below is a crucial list of items to consider when building your leadership team;

Diversity of thought: One person, no matter his/her experience, cannot have as great of perspective as a group of individuals. Having a diversity of thought allows old ideas to be challenged and for new ideas to be advanced. In one instance, I was working with a group of leaders to discuss the potential of a major reorganization of the broadcasting division of a major electronic retailer. We stood in a conference room, talking, arguing, challenging and finally agreeing on the best organizational structure for the department. It was not easy work, but by having a group of individuals, we got to see and hear from a greater perspective than if one person made the decision.

Balance of Strengths: All of us have strengths that we offer to the world, we also have limitations that hold us back. By creating a balance of strengths in a team, we can offset the limitations and build on our individual’s strengths. Working with a small manufacturing company, I noticed that the leadership team was a diverse group of people who had various strengths and limitations. One member was good at communicating and getting messages across; one was an idea generator; one was process driven; one as good at working with people. Separately they could not have succeeded, but together they did some amazing things.  When you are looking to build a team, consider the following strengths: Social + Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Systemic Thinking, Operational and Process Excellence, Technical Expertise, Problem Solving and idea generator. What other strengths should be on your team?

Trust: Trust among team members is crucial to the success of the team. Will the individuals on the team trust each other? Trust is multifaceted. There is trust that each can and will do their job to the best of their ability. Trust that when a team member has limitations they will ask for assistance. Trust that each is working for the betterment of the team and objective. Trust that although we may disagree, we will continue together to find the best solution. Trust that we can share our concerns and not hear them on the nightly news. Trust happens not by expecting it but by building it. By showing you are trustworthy and in return trusting others.

Work Ethic: Have you ever worked on a project and one individual did a lot less work than all of the others? This lack of work ethic or more precisely this unequal work ethic can negatively impact the team. Work ethic is not just about the amount of time; it is about the amount of effort an individual is willing to dedicate to reaching success for the team. This may mean working long hours. It also may be sacrificing other corporate activities to support the team. When you become a member of a President’s Administration, there is a lot of challenging work to accomplished; you cannot expect to work only forty hours each week.

Common Vision: This may challenge the notion of diversity of thought but when you are working together, a shared vision of a better future is necessary so the team is working toward a single objective. For instance, I served on a non-profit board, and we had the goal of improving our infrastructure. In all of our meetings, we were able to keep this as a focus. However, we had spirit discussion on how best to do this. The shared vision grounds the team on what they are working towards and what they will accomplish.

Level of Expertise: This may be challenging because it is easy to use this as the first measurement for the team. They must have a certain degree of competence in a particular area. And if this is use, you may eliminate diversity of thought, the balance of strengths and trust. However, I do agree that some level of expertise needs to be considered when building a team. In general, you would not want a middle school footballer on a college level team. However, at times, we hold individuals back because they don’t have a level of expertise but we could use their strengths in communication or emotional intelligence to balance out the team. In this case, knowing this person limitation as a subject matter expert helps you balance out the team with other subject matter experts.

 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
― Phil Jackson

 

Building a leadership team is critical to the success of an organization. My research and experiences have shown me that a leadership team has more impact on an organization than a single leader. When leaders surround themselves with other excellent leaders, the team can achieve great things. There is a trend in the NFL to hire ex-head coaches as assistant coaches, not only can the head coach tap into their skill level and knowledge of the ex-head coach but can also tap into their experience and shorten their learning curve.

Is your leadership team set? Or do you need help building your leadership team?