“I assume you sent for me because somebody told you I was the best. Well, I’m only the best because I work with the best. If you don’t trust the men you’re working with, you’re as good as dead.” – Bruce Willis in Armageddon
Regardless of what you thought of the movie, Bruce was on to something. Great leaders are great because of who is on their team. But just because you have the best team and best leader doesn’t always bring the best results. Just look at the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team. Even though they had arguably more talented players than other country, they had a record that represented more losses in a single year than previous USA Olympic teams had suffered in all Olympiads COMBINED.
As a leader, you are only as good as your team. But once you get your A-Team, what happens next? It is crucial that you create an environment where everyone can maximize their potential and do their best. As a leader, their success or failure and how effective they can do their job rests on your shoulders. Here are four things great leaders provide their teams:
- Clear mission, vision, and business plan. Your team needs to know where they are going, what their objective is, the end state of the organization, and the purpose. A great mission inspires hope, and even though the pay and benefits may not be great, great people will be more willing to sacrifice in order to be a part of a team and vision they believe in. If there is a lack of clarity, the team can be actually working against one another without knowing it. From personal experience, this can cause tension, a “you versus me” attitude that can demoralize the team. Get everyone pointed in the right direction. Clearly show the roadmap, where you are now, where you want to go, and how you will get there.
- Open communication! No matter how great the plan and roadmap, if it isn’t communicated well or at all, it won’t matter! This means there has to be transparency and trust in order for people to feel comfortable with open communication. Click here to read about the 7 C’s of Communication. No one should assume that people know what is going on, leaders need to make sure that the team is abreast of what needs to be done, what the expectations are, and that everyone can share opinions and insights. This helps in getting feedback to perform better and correct course if needed. I have seen organizations go in the wrong direction because of lack of communication. If people were able to speak up, they could have adjusted earlier with little problems.
- Defined duty and job descriptions. It is important that each team member know their responsibilities and who is doing what in the plan. If people aren’t clear on what they are supposed to do, they can duplicate unnecessary work. Especially if resources and time are scarce, each person who is on the bus, needs to know which seat they are in and the role they play. This helps in making sure the team is as efficient and effective as possible while maximizing the strengths of each person. The best sports teams have each position filled with people who know how exactly what they are responsible for.
- Know what success looks like. This applies to the entire team and individual roles. A mentor of mine said that in many cases success is measured by quantifiable numbers. How will the team know if they are performing well? How will they be evaluated? Is it sales or client numbers? Is it how much profit is made? Is it time-based? This has to be clear so people get feedback on where they are at and what they can do to improve. It also help see how well others are performing too. The best people get things done, and having the right evaluation tools will help separate those from those that don’t.
As a leader, he or she is responsible for the success of the organization. This means there needs to be a clear roadmap and plan, open communication, duty descriptions, and standards of evaluation. It is a constant effort but if done correctly, the team bus can go very far!