By Terri Klass
As they grow throughout their careers, leaders find themselves part of many different types of teams. Some teams run smoothly, whereas others can feel fairly dysfunctional. It’s useful to understand what makes a team highly productive and what creates strong bonds among its members. Why are some teams more appealing—and why do others make their members want to jump ship?
A team at its best is unstoppable in how it responds to daily challenges (and even crises) in large part because each member of that team has the potential to lead from wherever they are, regardless of their title or position. Capable of achieving great things, a balanced team of leaders has several distinguishing characteristics.
Foundation of Trust
Trust lies at the root of any healthy relationship: without it, a team cannot succeed. When team members have faith in one another to be honest and feel they can depend on each other, they build a strong foundation of trust that allows individuals to share honest feedback and be vulnerable. In a culture of trust, each person brings their authentic self to the workspace, follows through on their promises, is approachable and open to different opinions, and never has a hidden agenda.
Before team members can row their oars to move in the same direction, they must know where the team is headed. This vision must be precisely communicated so that all members can understand and honor it. Spending time to review the vision with the entire team of leaders, ask for their feedback, and address their concerns will result in less confusion.
Respect for Each Member
Respect is a two-way street, and a balanced team understands the power of respectful connections and prioritizes helping team members see the value in both earning respect and showing respect. Leaders cultivate a culture of respect by being open-minded and not judgmental, listening with the goal of achieving true understanding, showing compassion and kindness, and stepping up when things get tough.
Diversity of Strengths
The key to designing a balanced team (and reaching more effective outcomes) is making sure that different talents and strengths are represented on that team. For example, one person may be stronger at data analysis and can drill down important information and inferences from the numbers, whereas another might be a natural presenter or people person. Every skill and talent plays a critical role in achieving meaningful results, and strong and balanced teams value diversity in those areas.
Leader and team development is greatly improved when learning is treated as a real priority. Through professional development opportunities, managers can show team members how much their contributions are valued. In addition to establishing formal mentorship programs, managers can encourage team members to share their failures and what lessons they learned. They can also hire a coach to work with leaders who may benefit from coaching and ask team members about their career dreams and interests. Professional development can also include offering leadership training in areas such as communication, team building, problem solving, and decision making.
All managers should take some time to assess the leadership within their teams. With the right approach, any team can be developed into a balanced team of leaders. By identifying each person’s strengths and giving them opportunities for more leadership growth, organizations can create competent, confident teams.
Terri Klaas is a highly sought-after leadership skills facilitator, trainer, coach, and speaker who helps organizations develop influential leaders and retain their experienced talent. She can be reached at www.terriklassconsulting.com.