Great teams make great organizations. Great teams drive results.
But we all know Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, who achieved the historic moon landing in 1969.
Clifford, Gerald, Gene, Glynn, and Milton were Apollo 11 flight directors that made Apollo 11 happen. They built great teams that included rocket scientists, geologists, route planners, microbiologists, software engineers, and even tailors who all came together to achieve this feat of reaching the moon as a team.
Making great teams is way more than just rewarding people. There are several ingredients that go into making a great team.
1. Become deliberate about building a great team
Great teams just don’t happen. As a leader, you need to put in the effort to make one. You need to be thinking about what kind of culture you wish to build in the team to make it great.
Reflect on what you have done each day to make your team better that what it was yesterday.
2. Define an inspiring vision
A great team requires a great purpose to function. The purpose is what inspires a team. Therefore, first establish a compelling vision that inspires and aligns team members towards a common goal. Communicate the purpose, values, and objectives of the team, ensuring everyone understands and embraces the vision.
Reflect on whether you have a vision. If you do, then check whether your vision inspires you and the rest of the team.
3. Hire talent that aligns with the vision
Once the vision is created, understand the skills required to achieve the vision. Then, recruit members who show the right skills to excel in their respective roles that can contribute to the team’s success.
Reflect on whether your team members feel they have the right skills to perform and excel at their job.
4. Drive clear accountability
Each member of the team should have unambiguous accountability. Give each member a clear charter and ensure that the team members clearly understand their role in the team.
Reflect whether your team members feel confused and unsure about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
5. Give them the runway
While you ensure that each member in the team has clear ownership, you need to ensure that each member also has the right leg room to grow. Each member should feel challenged with what they are going to do.
Reflect on whether your team prefers to fall into a routine and resists change or does it feel a sense of purpose.
6. Care about the team
Genuinely, care about the team. Caring about your team goes beyond just helping them when they need you. It is about providing opportunities. It is about building a space for continuous learning and development. It is about showing willingness to connect with each individual in the team. It is about taking sincere interest in the growth of your team and knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Reflect on whether each member in your team genuinely cares about each other and stands up for others or are folks complaining and blaming each other.
7. Foster a culture of trust
Trust and respect are like two wheels of a bike. Even, if one of them is absent, the entire team will get impacted. Foster an environment that encourages open communication amongst individuals while respecting other’s opinions and point of view.
Reflect on whether your team is not afraid to say no and whether disagreements are respected and expected.
8. Recognize the right behavior
Acknowledge individual and team achievements and value outstanding performance, innovation, and collaboration. Incentivize behaviors that align with team’s goals and foster a culture of excellence. When you reward individuals, then do so with the language that aligns with the culture that you wish to build.
Reflect on whether your team members feel acknowledged for the work they do.
9. Build a culture of continuous improvement
Encourage growth mindset so that every member questions the status quo. Evaluate yours and your team’s performance. Identify what you are doing well and your areas of improvement. Implement strategies for areas where you can do better. Foster a culture that embraces feedback.
Reflect on whether team members feel defensive when receiving critical feedback from others.
10. Foster strong leaders
All the top 9 points were action items for you as a leader. But do not assume that building a strong team is only your TO DO list. Cultivate strong leaders at all levels in your team. Empower others in your team who can inspire, motivate, and guide other team members towards success.
Reflect on what is your succession strategy if you are to leave the team tomorrow.
At the beginning of the blog, I said that building great teams is way more than just rewarding people. At the same time, building a great team is the most rewarding thing that you should experience as a leader.
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