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Isaac Ludlow Series Part 6: The keys to a winning team

Do you ever wish your team functioned like the All Blacks, but in reality it feels more like running a childcare centre for grownups?

A business owner I was chatting to last week described their workplace like that. This paints a terrible picture, but if you’ve been in charge of a team, chances are you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

thumbsupWhat do you think it’s costing your business when your team isn’t as productive as their capabilities suggest they should be?

Today we are going to have a look at the keys to a winning team. Building a good strong team, whether it’s a sports team or in business is pretty simple and there are six fundamental keys you need to have in place as you build the team.

To get your team looking less like a madhouse and more like the All Blacks, let’s start at the top.

1. Strong leadership

stevejobsThe first key is to have strong leadership. And take note, it’s not just any kind of leadership, it’s strong leadership. Too often management is done well, but strong leadership is really a game changer. As a strong leader, you must know where you’re going, be able to articulate this clearly and with a passion so that others are engaged in the idea and inspired. You need to have confidence and determination to hold firm to strong principles even when the going gets tough. The strength of the leader is of vital importance to make sure that the team wins. 

2. Common goal

Any team coming together needs to have a common goal that pulls them all in the same direction. This must be a common goal that everybody knows and that everyone can relate to. It shouldn’t just be to make a million dollars for the company – there must be a benefit in it for everybody. Imagine everyone is silently asking: “What’s in it for me?”.  

commongoalbridgeAs a quick check, do you think if you asked everyone in your business to tell you what the common goal is, that they would all be able to tell you without hesitation? And if so, are they excited about it.

3. Rules of the game

fieldimageAs leaders, we need to have the rules of the game really clear –  written down and upfront. If you have unwritten rules and leave people to work them out themselves – they’re going to step on people’s toes and possibly go over the lines at times. On top of that, they have to learn things the hard way, and the reality is, that doesn’t make it a good experience for anyone. This applies to people new to your team as well as those that are already in the company. The set of rules needs to be in writing so that there’s no scope for misunderstandings.

4. Action plan

actionplanWho does what by when?  We’ve got to know who’s doing what job, when it will be completed and how it’s going to be done. Too often there is a plan, but it’s not an action plan, meaning that it doesn’t say who’s doing what by when.  Every company that works with a coach will be making a plan every 90 days.

Having an action plan makes a team far easier to manage and lead, and not only that, it gives the team members the opportunity to do their best job. This is because they know what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and when they need to get it done.

5. Support risk taking

tightropeIf team members aren’t making mistakes, then they’re not trying anything new. The fact is that to grow a company, you have to try new things. You need to support your team members to try things they haven’t done before. When something goes wrong… and it will, you need to say “well done for trying!”. Ensure that the lesson is learnt, and that next time the right actions will be taken. Make certain that you are supporting your team when they try new things, supporting them when they take risks – that doesn’t mean to be crazy about it, but be reasonable about making sure they are trying new things.

6. 100% Involvement and Inclusion

handsinIf you want a winning team, you need to have 100% of the people involved and participating in what’s going on. Get everyone feeling involved, and ensure that there’s a culture where team members feel valued, feel listened to, and feel they can make a difference. Too often there are some people working hard, some doing some of the work, and some slowing others down. It’s like a rowing team , if everyone isn’t strongly rowing in the same direction, then they’re slowing everyone else down. It’s the job of the leader and manager to include everybody. It’s the job of the team member to involve themselves in all situations.  

To sum it up:

Make sure team members:

  • Are involved and including themselves.
  • Are supported when they step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
  • Have an action plan to follow.
  • Know the rules of the game.
  • Have a meaningful goal.
  • Are led by a strong decisive leader to take them to the position where the company needs to go.

teamThe keys to a winning team are simple, but they’re not easy. You’ve got to work very hard to get these things in place. Leadership comes with time, experience and learning and you’re going to have to grow in it to build a good team.

Extra for experts:

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team book is highly recommended reading.

You can find it here at:  https://www.bookdepository.com/Five-Dysfunctions-Team-Patrick-M-Lencioni/9780787960759

Isaac Ludlow

Business Coach
The World’s #1 Business Coaching Firm
Hamilton, New Zealand
Mobile: +64 27 548 3302

If having a successful team is important to you then please get in touch with Isaac at isaacludlow@actioncoach.com or 027 548 3302 who can work with you to achieve your goals.