Winning Teams Require…

Winning Teams Need A Winning Leader

Note: This blog (longer than usual) is constructed of extracts from a Leadership session I delivered a few years ago. Therefore, it may not flow as well as what you have come to expect of me.

Teams are everywhere but continually Winning Teams are much harder to find! Creating and sustaining a winning team is not rocket science but neither is it easy. It necessitates the big ‘C’ factor; commitment.

Like almost everything else in business, planning is a key factor in a winning team. Having a predetermined team purpose both establishes a reviewable benchmark and creates a core focus. Of course, another critical factor is leadership capacity. A Winning Team is a construct of winners! Although not everyone on the team has necessarily had previous ‘big wins’; some are selected by being recognised by an insightful leader, as having great potential.

Every team needs a leader, winning teams need exceptional leaders. Leading a continually winning team isn’t just about authority or knowledge; there are many skills required to identify, hone and direct the individuals into a cohesive and focused team. There is a plethora of ideas and positions on the subject of required leadership skills. In 2018, I read the following article titled ‘18 Skills You Need to Be a Successful Leader’ by Joanna Zamba – Content Manager and Career Expert at CareerAddict.

1. Effective Communication

All great leaders are good communicators; they have the ability to get their point across in a constructive manner and have strong interpersonal skills. They must master all forms of communication, including one-on-ones, company meetings and in written form. You should have the ability to be sensitive to people’s situations and give them the time to share their thoughts and problems.

2. Proactivity

A successful leader doesn’t wait for things to happen; they are proactive and they anticipate desired results. They identify threats and take action against them. They are constantly thinking of ways to improve and do better; whether that goal is business-related or personal, they always strive to do better.

3. Ability to Motivate

Good leaders and managers inspire their employees to do better and motivate those around them. This fire in their belly comes from their passion and pride to be the best and to achieve more than they ever expected. And as the great Maya Angelou once said: ‘Nothing will work unless you do’. So if you want to encourage, you need to show people how.

4. Organisation

Organisational skills are crucial in management positions; you need to be able to handle a number of different projects and spend ample time on each, ensuring you meet deadlines. If you lack this quality, you should find techniques and methods to help you be more organised.

5. Confidence

Confidence is important in this role as people will look at you on how to behave, particularly when things are going pear-shaped. If you remain calm and confident in all situations, you’ll teach your staff to carry the same air and morale.

6. Analytical

Analytical skills are also one of the key characteristics of a good manager. If you are a good analyst, you will be able to make correct decisions and solve problems effectively. ‘…Analytical skills often prove vital in navigating through the situation. If you are struggling with uncertainty or doubt, an analytical approach can help to put you on the right track.’

7. Decision-Making

Being able to make decisions quickly and correctly is an effective skill to have; you have to decide what the best action is to take against a specific problem. Genevieve Fish writes on MyDomaine: ‘To help yourself make wise, time-effective decisions, limit your options. Consider three to four possible scenarios, and weigh the pros and cons of each. Any more considerations than that and you will suffer from a paradox of choice.’

8. Creativity

Creative thinking skills are essential when it comes to leadership roles; you need to be able to think outside of the box and come up with new and innovative ideas at any given moment. You can also encourage your staff members to come up with new ideas that enhance the overall growth of the business.

9. Delegation

When you are really passionate about a project, it’s very difficult to let go of certain tasks and hand them over to colleagues to complete. However, if you hired correctly, you’ll know where people’s strengths lie, and will be able to get the best-qualified person for the job to complete it. Being able to hand out tasks appropriately and set deadlines is a key skill for an effective leader.

10. Flexibility

A good and effective leader is adaptable to unexpected situations and problems. Being flexible allows you to pick up and drop tasks when needed and in order of priority. Another important factor is allowing your staff to be flexible – you’ll be much more respected if you offer them better working conditions, giving them a good work-life balance.

11. Honesty

When you are open and honest with your team, you’ll open the path for truthful behaviour. Your staff will respect you and your decisions and, in turn, will make better choices. The same policy goes for your relationship with clients and suppliers – good leaders always have a truthful line of communication.

12. Negotiation

As a manager, you will have to communicate with staff, upper management, customers, suppliers and competitors. You will need to be able to negotiate correctly, ensuring your reputation is not put on the line. If you are purchasing a high order, you could negotiate on the price to increase profits and save costs. Many people think this is an easy skill to learn but the art of appropriate negotiation takes a while to master.

13. Positivity

Great leaders know that they won’t have a highly motivated team if they themselves aren’t positive. When things are falling through the gaps, encourage your team members to do better, pick themselves up and carry on. Don’t shout at them or make them feel intimidated; it’s neither effective nor productive. To make the workplace a happy environment, create a few rewards to boost morale; this could be afternoon cupcakes or Friday beers, for example.

14. Industry Expertise

In order to be a great leader, you need to know the ins and outs of your specific field. You are the person with solutions to problems, and should possess the voice of authority. This expertise must also determine important decisions and help you understand what is and isn’t possible for each position. For example, a good website design leader won’t ask his or her team to build a website function that isn’t feasible. Instead, the leader should suggest an alternative.

15. Trustworthiness

The most respected leaders display integrity and honesty, gaining the trust and loyalty of employees and clients. If you are trustworthy, employees will want to work harder and deliver better results. Trusted leaders don’t have a large staff turnover rate, as workers feel satisfied in their position with a good motivator and teacher behind them.

16. Time Management

Time management is a vital skill to have when working in any position, especially in a managerial role, whether remotely or in an office. You will not only have to manage your own time but also the company’s time and efforts. You’ll need to keep on top of project deadlines, staff requirements and any other tasks and challenges that arise on a daily basis. Managers must decide where to invest the company’s time and resources, which will give them a good profit return.

17. Problem-Solving

As a person of power, you’ll need to solve a number of issues that arise daily. This could be for a client, employee or your personal manager. Whatever the situation, you have to think quickly and logically, not allowing emotional stress or time pressure to alter your ideas. Peter Economy says: ‘Leaders are recruited, trained and chosen to solve organisational problems, and to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.’

18. Feedback

Giving regular feedback is essential in the workplace. If an employee has done a good job, let them know about it – don’t what until their annual review to tell them that they have exceeded your expectations. Mark Murphy says: ‘What… matter[s] is whether your employees know whether or not they’re doing a good job.’

Teams are made up of individual members who bring unique qualities to the table. Appreciating that and utilising their talents, skills, gifts and experiences in a strategic and structured manner can have substantially positive outcomes of performance, harmony and participant satisfaction.

Using a behavioural assessment profiling tool to analyse and determine a current team profile is a cost-effective and practical way to understanding a team’s culture, strengths and limitations, motivations, communication styles and avoidance issues. Once established this allows you to appropriate training resources and consider ideal requirements for future team member selection; to optimise team performance and longevity. Winning Teams are often created by having a predetermined team profile (focus) and seeking team members that would assist in developing said profile.

Traditionally, a team goes through five stages of development. Each stage of team development presents its special challenges to a group of people striving to work together successfully by forming a cohesive team. The team and the organisation can take specific actions at each stage of team development to support the team’s success in accomplishing the team mission.

  • Forming: a group of people who come together to accomplish a shared purpose.
  • Storming: Disagreement about mission, vision, and approaches combined with the fact that team members are getting to know each other can cause strained relationships and conflict.
  • Norming: The team has consciously or unconsciously formed working relationships that are enabling progress on the team’s objectives.
  • Performing: Relationships, team processes, and the team’s effectiveness in working on its objectives are synching to bring about a successfully functioning team.
  • Transforming: The team is performing so well that members believe it is the most successful team they have experienced; orEnding: The team has completed its mission or purpose and it is time for team members to pursue other goals or projects.

Not every team moves through these stages in order and various activities such as adding a new team member can send the team back to earlier stages. The length of time necessary for progressing through these stages depends on the experience of the members, the support the team receives and the knowledge and skill of the team members.

Winning Teams are the exception, not the norm. They reflect the investment of thought, time, and resources that were given in the creation, development and continual management afforded to them.

In conclusion, this content remains a minimal covering of what winning teams look like, but I hope it has been of interest and some degree of help to you.

Question: Do you have a good example of a team that has worked well, or poorly? If so, please share it with us.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Alternatively, I always appreciate constructive comments on team management.

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