Category Archives: success
It takes great leadership to build great teams. Leaders who are not afraid to course correct, make the difficult decisions and establish standards of performance that are constantly being met – and improving at all times. Whether in the workplace, professional sports, or your local community, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others. Team building requires the management of egos and their constant demands for attention and recognition – not always warranted. Team building is both an art and a science and the leader who can consistently build high performance teams is worth their weight in gold.
History has shown us that it takes a special kind of leader with unique competencies and skills to successfully build great companies and teams. In the sports world, the late John Wooden set the standard for great coaches, leading UCLA to 10 NCAA national basketball championships in a 12-year period — seven in a row. His success was so iconic, Wooden created his own “Pyramid for Success” to help others excel through his proven wisdom. In the business world, we can look to Jack Welsh, who was the Chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. According to Wikipedia, the company’s value rose 4000% during his tenure. In 2006 Welch’s net worth was estimated at $720 million and in 2009, he launched the Jack Welsh Management Institute at Strayer University.
Building companies requires the know-how to build long-lasting teams. This is why most managers never become leaders and why most leaders never reach the highest pinnacle of leadership success. It requires the ability to master the “art of people” and knowing how to maneuver hundreds (if not thousands) of people at the right place and at the right time. It means knowing how each person thinks and how to best utilize their competencies rightly at all times. It’s playing a continuous chess match – knowing that every wrong move that is made can cost the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars (just ask BP and Enron).
As you evaluate the sustainability of the team(s) you lead and its real impact on the organization you serve, here are six ways successful teams are built to last:
1. Be Aware of How You Work
As the leader of the team, you must be extremely aware of your leadership style and techniques. Are they as effective as you think? How well are they accepted by the team you are attempting to lead? Evaluate yourself and be critical about where you can improve, especially in areas that will benefit those whom you are a leading.
Though you may be in-charge, how you work may not be appreciated by those who work for you. You may have good intentions, but make sure you hold yourself accountable to course-correct and modify your approach if necessary to assure that you’re leading from a position of strength and respectability.
Be your own boss. Be flexible. Know who you are as a leader.
2. Get to Know the Rest of the Team
Much like you need to hold yourself accountable for your actions to assure you maximize performance and results, you must make the time to get to know your team and encourage camaraderie. In my “emotional intelligence blog,” I discuss the importance of caring, understanding the needs of your team and embracing differences and helping your colleagues experience their significance. In this case, gathering intelligence means learning what defines the strengths and capabilities of your team – the real assets that each member brings to the table, those they leave behind and those yet to be developed.
All great leaders know exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. They are experts at activating the talent that surrounds them. They are equally as effective at matching unique areas of subject matter expertise and / or competencies to solve problems and seek new solutions.
Fully knowing your team means that you have invested the time to understand how they are wired to think and what is required to motivate them to excel beyond what is expected from them.
Think of your team as puzzle pieces that can be placed together in a variety of ways.
3. Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities
When you successfully complete step 2, you can then more effectively and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of those on your team. Now, don’t assume this is an easy step; in fact, you’ll often find that people’s ideal roles lie outside their job descriptions.
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Each of your team member’s responsibilities must be interconnected and dependent upon one another. This is not unlike team sports, where some players are known as “system players” – meaning that, although they may not be the most talented person on the team, they know how to work best within the “system.” This is why you must have a keen eye for talent that can evaluate people not only on their ability to play a particular role – but even more so on whether they fit the workplace culture (the system) and will be a team player.
For example, I once inherited an employee who wasn’t very good at his specific job. Instead of firing him, I took the time to get to know him and utilized his natural talents as a strategic facilitator who could keep all of the moving parts within the department in proper alignment and in lock-step communication. This person helped our team operate more efficiently and saved the company money by avoiding the bad decisions they previously made because of miscommunications. He was eventually promoted into a special projects manager role.
A team should operate as a mosaic whose unique strengths and differences convert into a powerful united force.
4. Be Proactive with Feedback
Feedback is the key to assuring any team is staying on track, but more importantly that it is improving each day. Feedback should be proactive and constant. Many leaders are prone to wait until a problem occurs before they give feedback.
Feedback is simply the art of great communication. It should be something that is part of one’s natural dialogue. Feedback can be both formal and informal. In fact, if it becomes too structured and stiff, it becomes difficult for the feedback to be authentic and impactful.
Remember that every team is different, with its own unique nuances and dynamics. Treat them as such. No cookie-cutter approach is allowed. Allow proactive feedback to serve as your team’s greatest enabler for continuous improvement.
Take the time to remind someone of how and what they can be doing better. Learn from them. Don’t complicate the process of constructive feedback. Feedback is two-way communication.
5. Acknowledge and Reward
With proactive feedback comes acknowledgement and reward. People love recognition, but are most appreciative of respect. Take the time to give your teammates the proper accolades they have earned and deserve. I have seen too many leaders take performance for granted because they don’t believe that one should be rewarded for “doing their job.”
At a time when people want to feel as if they are making a difference, be a thoughtful leader and reassure your team that you are paying attention to their efforts. Being genuine in your recognition and respect goes a long way towards building loyalty and trust. It organically ignites extra effort!
When people are acknowledged, their work brings them greater satisfaction and becomes more purposeful.
6. Always Celebrate Success
At a time when uncertainty is being dealt with each day, you must take the time to celebrate success. This goes beyond acknowledgment – this is about taking a step-back and reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you have learned throughout the journey.
In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world of work, people are not taking enough time to understand why they were successful and how their success reverberated and positively impacted those around them. I have seen leaders fall into the trap of self-aggrandizement – because of what their teams accomplished – rather than celebrating the success stories that in many cases required tremendous effort, sacrifice and perseverance.
Celebration is a short-lived activity. Don’t ignore it. Take the time to live in the moment and remember what allowed you to cross the finish line.
Leaders are only as successful as their teams and the great ones know that with the right team dynamics, decisions and diverse personalities, everyone wins in the end.
Operation Smile, a non-profit organization founded in 1982, is an international charity for children. The organization is a mobilized group of doctors and nurses who provide reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
Since inception, Operation Smile has created a presence in over 60 countries and has helped more than 2 million people with evaluations as well as conducted over 200,000 free surgeries.
The dodgeball tournament involved several teams of 6 competing in a best out of three bracket style competition. Each team paid an entry fee of $100 to play. One hundred percent of the donated entry fees went to Operation Smile.
“It is always exciting to give back. Operation Smile is such an inspiring organization of extremely selfless people. I am glad we were able to be a part of the event and I look forward to continuing to work with Operation Smile in the future,” explains Andrea Atkinson, President of 212, Inc.
The event helped raise $3600 and the winning team got the honor of presenting the total donations in their name. 212, Inc. has also volunteered with the Salvation Army’s Adopt A Family program and will continue its philanthropic work in the months to come.
Executives of 212 Inc. will be traveling to Miami Beach for an annual national conference and a bit of fun on the beach.
The weekend will be hosted at the Miami Eden Roc hotel and will include some brief meetings, a chance to relax on the beach, networking opportunities with several business professionals from all across the country, and two charity tournaments.
This year’s charity events will include a beach volleyball tournament and a beach cornhole tournament. These tournaments mark the 5th year the company will be attending a charity event at the client hosted national conference.
This years charity will be a Beach Volleyball Tournament followed by a Beach Cornhole
Tournament. Teams of six for volleyball pay an entry fee of $100 and each team of 2 for cornhole pay a $20 entry fee. One hundred percent of the entry fees collected will be
donated to Operation Smile and the winning team will have the honor of presenting the donation check to Operation.
Congratulations to those hard working individuals who have earned the opportunity to attend this fun filled weekend.
As a user of LinkedIn and loyal reader of Adam’s Corner Office columns I had high expectations for the live interview. I walked away feeling like a high school girl who experienced her first crush. And now I am writing a tell all!
Jeff’s open and compassionate leadership style keeps the company focused on growing at the rate of two new members every second (that translates into 175 million registered users in more than 200 countries) while reducing the business mantra to just two words: “Next Play.” Weiner borrowed the phrase from Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who shouts Next Play, every time the ball changes hands. Krzyzewski uses the phrase to make sure the Duke University Blue Devils don’t spend too much time celebrating a success or feeling down about a miss. Instead, they are coached to focus on one thing: the next challenge. During the interview with Bryant, Weiner described how powerful Next Play has been for the company. On the day LinkedIn became a public company, employees received a black T shirt with the company’s name and stock ticker written across the front and Next Play emblazoned on the back of the shirt. Even today 16 months after the LinkedIn IPO, employees continue to talk about their Next Play and stay focused on delivering results.
During the video interview, Weiner shared 10 lessons in leadership I think every businessperson should be aware of. They include:
1) Define leadership in your company: At LinkedIn, Leadership is the ability to inspire others and achieve shared results. It starts with defining a clear vision. In the case of LinkedIn it is to create economic opportunity for the 3.3 billion people in the global workplace by matching skills with job opportunities.
2) Understand how to evolve from a start-up to a public company: A CEO and the leadership team must understand the importance of growing their skills from solving problems to coaching others to achieve business results.
3) Prioritize your business goals: Start with asking yourself and your team if we could only do one thing, what would it be? This is a lesson Weiner learned from Steve Jobs and practices every day. Weiner’s advice is to focus on doing fewer things, and do those things well.
4) Practice time management: Weiner carves out 2-3 hours each day to reflect, think and see the big picture. Weiner’s advice if you do not carve out at least an hour you are fitting way too much into your schedule.
5) Encourage all employees to think like an owner: Employees in a start-up must understand the business decisions they make are ones that have P&L implications. In the case of LinkedIn, this means understanding how the decisions they are making impact the company mission of connecting the world’s 640 Million professionals and making them more successful.
6) Keep putting your customers first: At LinkedIn, one of the values is simply stated as: Members First. So anytime the LinkedIn product team considers new enhancements the first question revolves around: Is this putting our members first, or is this putting the company first? “If it benefits members, it will ultimately benefit the company.
7) Remember To laugh: Executing on a bold vision like creating economic opportunity for 3.3 billion people around the world is tough work. So humor needs to be a part of every executive’s day. Make time to laugh with your team members. Weiner says he values his team members’ sense of humor and sometimes, on a tough day, that can trump their talent and expertise!
8) Find time to reflect on what’s important to you: Working professionals should take time to ask themselves: “If you had to look back at your career 20-30 years from now, what do you want to say you have accomplished?” Weiner says he is amazed how many people he interviews cannot answer this question and worse yet have never thought about it. Instead, far too many focus on the next job role, next title, or next compensation package, without knowing what it is you want to leave the world. And Weiner believes once you take time to articulate this to yourself, you begin to manifest this to others and before too long, you start on a path to realize your vision.
9) Understand what makes you happy: Weiner lives by five keys to happiness: (articulated by Ray Chambers, an entrepreneur who helped create the leveraged buyout industry, as well as a number of non profits such as National Mentoring Partnership and Americas Promise) These include:
Stay in the moment.
Step back and become a spectator to your own thoughts.
It’s more important to be loving than to be right.
Go out of your way to serve others.
Take time each morning, to write down what you are grateful for and read it throughout the day.
10) Communicate the importance of next play to your team: The faster a company grows, the more opportunity there is to experience both successes and failures. While it’s important to celebrate the successes, and reflect on a failure, you ultimately have to move on and focus on the “Next Play.”
So did Weiner share LinkedIn’s Next Play? No, for that, we will all have to log onto the site and see for ourselves.