The most successful professionals have a solid team supporting them. Individuals working together can accomplish much more than if they were alone. In sports, the best players do not win championships; rather, the most effective teams win. Here is how you can cultivate a strong team:
Delegate and empower your team.
Several years ago, John, my mentor, found himself without a working computer. He suddenly became utterly dependent on others to keep up. Through this experience, he learned that his team could perform certain tasks better than himself. So many professionals allow fear to rule them and cling to certain responsibilities, robbing themselves of growth and depriving others of opportunities to thrive. Delegating stretches your team, reassures them that their role is valuable, and allows you to focus on what you do best. Empower your team members and stand behind their decisions.
Concentrate on your team member’s strengths.
A friend of mine played point guard on her high school basketball team. She was 5′ 4″, and constantly felt frustrated that her vertical jump was lower than everyone else. She focused on improving in this area for an entire year. When she got a new coach the following year, he challenged her thought process. He explained that she might never have an amazing vertical, but if she concentrated on perfecting her jump shot during the past year she would be a much stronger player. How many times do we do this to our teammates? Some people are not detail oriented. Instead of berating them for missing details, emphasize the importance of peer review. Ask them to partner with someone who excels with details.
Facilitate communication between team members.
Set an example for your employees by keeping communication flowing. Stay transparent about your own weaknesses to encourage honesty and give others the opportunity to step up and help. Ask your team to solve problems to encourage creativity and collaboration. When you have an idea, encourage feedback and ask for reasons it might not work. Thank people who point out flaws in the plan to encourage open communication.
Treat every team member as an individual.
Just as your employees have differing strengths, different motivators drive their behavior. I am motivated by relationships, while others are more motivated by having extra time off. Each person has different goals, skills, sensitivities, and motivators. Do your homework and get to know your employees. Understand what motivates each team member and become a cheerleader for their success.
Stop managing your team and begin leading.
The most effective teams have a strong leader who removes obstacles and stretches each individual’s abilities. When I first started to work as a Project Manager for John, he asked me to travel to a meeting with a brand new large client. I rarely met clients face to face since I worked from home. John entrusted the meeting to me, and I took that responsibility seriously. I developed a strong relationship with the client, and serve as their number one contact when things go awry. I feel a personal responsibility to make them happy. John effectively stretched my capabilities, built my confidence, and solidified my commitment to the client.
You cannot reach your full potential by being a one person show. Commit to building your team and reap the benefits in spades.