I’m lucky enough to work with high-performing teams every day, both in my own office and in my clients’ companies – all have common factors, the most important of which is the leader who sees what their team can become and is focused on achieving that. That leader, with both their vision and the values they instil in their team, sets the direction the team will take, their goals, the measure of their success and their development.
Whether that person takes over an existing team and turns it around or builds a new team from scratch – which is much less common – their challenges are the same:
- talk to stakeholders and understand the existing culture
- spend time finding out what makes the business work and what holds it back
- identify what people – customers, employees, shareholders – value.
All this needs to be done before trying to change anything – if a leader makes changes immediately, they will not take everyone with them. Once this research is done, the team can progress with a vision of how to achieve the best performance allied to the company’s core values and needs.
A great leader will focus on:
- getting the right people in the right roles
- creating the right environment – one of trust and cooperation
- challenging the team to exceed expectations and appreciating their skills
- developing them and making learning an everyday part of work.
Who are the right people? It is tempting to say that they are the people with the right experience for the job – they can tackle the role straight away. But do they have
the right attitude and approach for the role? Skills and experience can be acquired, but the right behaviour and attitude, with a drive to succeed and achieve as part
of a team, as well as an acceptance of the company’s values, is much harder to add on.
The best teams have strong leaders, but they also trust each other, rely on each other’s skills and experience, protect each other when something goes wrong, and work together to achieve their common goal. Like the Red Arrows, great teams work together to achieve the extraordinary.