In any business operation, designing and leading an effective team is becoming more of a necessity in the process of organizational development and maintaining a competitive advantage within your respective industry. While more organizations continue to be innovative in an attempt to do more with less, creating cohesive teams that’re adaptable, supportive, and productive is an ever-evolving task that challenges leaders of today.
Building an effective team isn’t an easy task, but once you gain the skills and experience in leading successful teams it’s a process you can use no matter your environment while remaining adaptable to certain internal and external influential factors. The points below will highlight some of these best practices and characteristics of high performing leaders and teams.
Key Point #1 – Prep Before Individual Commitment
As a leader you may have the urge to form a team based on your relationships and presumptions of who will want to be part of your team, but it certainly pays off to focus on a few tasks prior to bringing people aboard the team. These tasks include:
- Identify the necessary skills and knowledge required of the positions within the team
- Brainstorm your expectations for your team such as performance, participation, communication, schedule, milestones, and collaboration
- Discuss the team qualities and requirements with the managerial decision-makers prior to bringing the team members together to allow for discussion on objectives, goals, and the alignment with the organization’s culture
- Can be helpful to discuss the opportunities and requirements with potential candidates prior to binding them through a commitment
Your pre-team formation work will pay large dividends as the assignments progress, even if you face challenges throughout the growth stage of the team. It can also be helpful to complete informal interviews or have conversations with individuals depending on the project specifics that may require specific skill sets that everyone may not possess. Another vital step here is to make sure your efforts align with the managers and the organization, as you don’t want to be innovative and creative as a leader but miss your key objectives due to the lack of communication and planning amongst the leaders and managers in the organization.
Key Point #2 – Form Your Team and Prep for Success
Once you’ve completed your preliminary work, it’s time to bring your teammates aboard and beginning setting team expectations and objectives with complete participation. As a leader you not only want to foster creativity and high-performance, but you want to lay the groundwork for the project and assignment upfront in a collaborative effort with all members. Some key points here are as follows:
- Choose team members with complimentary skill sets when assigning individuals to the predesignated positions
- Develop a team charter, guidelines, or expectations with the team members which should highlight personnel behavior, expectations, and specific performance requirements
One of the greatest aspects of laying down the foundation for the team upon development is the fact that it’s much easier to hold individuals accountable if you set directives and expectations that everyone understands and has input on in the beginning. It can also be beneficial to periodically review these to help keep your team focused and on track, as well as holding yourself as the leader accountable for keeping your team aligned with it’s original goals and objectives.
Key Point #3 – Lead Through Positivity and Adaptability
Being a leader is a tremendous responsibility in a group environment, but with that comes much opportunity to develop the culture and the environment in which the team performs its work. One of the key drivers here is your positive attitude. While everyone in a leadership role knows there’re always challenges to face and overcome, as well as conflict or problems that may arise while your team is working together. Sometimes it can be very challenging to stay positive, but it’s important to turn a negative situation into one with a positive outcome as much as possible. When it comes to negativity and conflict, be constructive, descriptive, and coach your team members on what needs to be done to resolve the issue effectively. You as the leader set the pace and the tone for the team, so you must do your best to foster positive results through positive reinforcement.
Another key component of successful leaders and teams is adaptability. We’re in the day and age of where adaptability is vital to the sustainability and success of the organization, as well as building strategies around holding a competitive advantage. Work with your team to be open-minded to resistance and change, as well as taking threats or challenges and turning them in to opportunities. Below are a few other highlighted points to make sure you’re keeping yourself on track with your team:
- Be consistent and lead by example
- Complete team building activities such as periodic informal meetings to discuss new and ongoing work, and do so with positive feedback and support for the amazing work your employees do
- Be creative with your team, and allow for an environment where there’s open-mindedness as well as constant innovation and improvement identification
While developing effective and productive to carry out organizational objectives is one of the key reasons for implementation, there’s also other supporting results from a leadership perspective that make all this hard work pay huge dividends. Some of the positive results of developing successful teams are:
- Creating an opportunity for those within the team to reach new levels of performance and positive emotions
- Help the organization reach its goals through leading others towards a common goal that benefits all relevant stakeholders
- Build the qualities of individual team members as well as the quality and performance of the team through better communication and operations effectiveness
- Meeting milestones, deadlines, and project completion driven by efficiencies from positive and productive processes
- Building a positive and supportive culture where the team leader and members work on a horizontal playing field
Don’t forget, even for seasoned leaders this can be a challenge to form and lead a highly efficient, positive, and productive team. The amount of effort you put in throughout the process will certainly yield the desired results if you lead with constructiveness, respect, diligence, and good communication habits. Please feel free to download the corresponding tip sheet!