5 Conditions for an Effective Team

team

The Most Effective Teams

Rodger Dean Duncan’s latest book LeaderSHOP: Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today’s Top Thought Leaders is a collection of lessons from his many leadership interviews. I reached out to Rodger to provide his perspective on world class teams.

 

“Teamwork is more common as a buzzword than as an actual practice.” -Rodger Dean Duncan

 

Tips for Building Teams

Building a world-class team is the job of a great leader. Share a few tips you’ve learned about building great teams.

Teamwork is more common as a buzzword than as an actual practice. Without benefit of nuance, teamwork is one of those catch-all terms often extended as the magic elixir for the moment’s most pressing execution issue. In a bid to boost performance, teamwork is touted in corporate vision statements, on wall posters, T-shirts, key chains, and coffee mugs. Teamwork is the subject of banal pep talks by goofy managers in TV sitcoms (The Office comes to mind). Teamwork has been given a bad name by a world of bad practitioners.

But when we’re strategic about putting both the team and the work into teamwork, beautiful things can happen.

Here’s a helpful metaphor. The suspension bridge is one of the most impressive accomplishments of modern engineering. It begins as individual wires not much stronger than the ones you’d use to hang pictures on your living room wall. Spun together, these individual wires become strands. Then several of the larger strands are combined into giant wire rope or cable that can bear thousands of tons of weight and safely cross obstacles like canyons and rivers.

This same principle is part of the marvelous results that can be produced by genuine teamwork. Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when they discover strength in unity.

 

“Some people hesitate in speaking up to avoid being ostracized or being viewed as ‘not a team player.’” – Rodger Dean Duncan

 

5 Conditions of an Effective Team

So what are the ingredients of an effective team?

A team is most likely to be effective when five conditions exist:

 

1. It’s a real team, not just a team in name only.

A collection of people is not necessarily a team. In this context, “team” is used to describe a carefully selected group of people who work interdependently, who are mutually supportive, and who bring out the best in each other as they strive to accomplish a set of specific goals.

Composition matters, and more is not necessarily better. Go for quality over quantity.

 

2. It has a compelling purpose.

You Picked Your Word. Now Pick Your Picture.

your picture

Your Year’s Picture

 

“A picture is a poem without words.” -Horace

 

If you’re like many in my social media feeds, you’ve picked your word for the year or even three words. A well-chosen word acts like a guide.

Why not take it further and try a picture?

We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. It crystalizes everything. A picture can represent an accomplishment and embody a feeling. It can transport you to another time. When I look at a picture, my mind adds sound and makes it come alive.

If a word exercise is powerful, try an image. Make your chosen words its caption.

 

“I believe that visualization is one of the most powerful means of achieving personal goals.” -Harvey Mackay

 

Visualize Your Future

I know someone who swears that goals are more achievable if they are visualized.

Put up a picture on your refrigerator of your dream home. Years ago, when I was a child, I had a vision of my future home and sketched it out on paper. Once, when my parents came to visit us, my mom stepped back and couldn’t believe it. “I’ve seen this house!” she said, “You drew this as a kid!”

3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

Happy New Year!

The other day I posted the best book covers.  The artists and designers who create book jackets deserve recognition for the outstanding job they do.  Whether we realize it or not, the cover is often responsible for drawing us in.

Kicking off this year, I am thinking about the goals I have for the year.  The book covers offer a metaphor for our goal-setting process.

Glancing at a book cover, we judge the content and the author.  When strangers look at us, like it or not, they often judge us in the same way.  They take a look, and judge on our appearance.  Unfortunately, this is common before anyone even understands our story.

 

MOST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOCUS ON THE COVER

Is your goal this year to lose weight? Stay on that diet?  Exercise more?  Eat healthier?  Like a book cover, we often focus on how the world sees us by focusing on our physical appearance.  We don’t stop there.  We also think about our reputation.  Reputation defender services now help combat unwanted or unfair reviews online.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu

I can hear some of you saying, “Wait.  Skip, it’s the inside that matters!”  Some of you may be thinking about the verse in Samuel: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

That’s true.

I love what Jim Rohn said about that thought.  He said, “Work on the outside for people.  Work on the inside for God.”

 

NEW YEAR GOALS

If your life was a book, you would want the cover to be an award winner, and you would want the narrative to be superbly written.  Design your goals the same way.

Keep your external goals.  Losing weight may be just what you need.  Regular exercise may just save your life.  Eating more vegetables is always a good idea.  But make sure to add internal goals to your list.

1. Divide your goals into two lists:  the cover and the story.

A COVER goal is anything that is visible.  This list could include such things as quitting smoking, getting a better job or obtaining your ideal weight.  Anything that is seen by other people and the outside world goes in this column.

A STORY goal is what’s on the inside and goes into the second column.  Do you want to be a better friend?  How about being less critical and more positive?  What are your spiritual goals?

Taking Your Team to the Top

How to Take Your Team to the Top

As a leader, how do you spot talent?

How do you take talented individuals and turn them into a winning team?

How do you create a winning culture?

Is it possible to use adversity to your advantage? 

What team is the greatest of all time?

 

I asked Ted Sundquist all of these questions and more.

Ted Sundquist played fullback at the U.S. Air Force Academy, winning the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1983 Independence Bowl.  He later served as a flight commander in Germany before returning to the Academy and coaching.  In 1993, the Denver Broncos hired Ted as a talent scout.  Ted was named General Manager of the Broncos in 2002.  Today, Ted is an analyst for the NFL network, a radio personality, a commentator and a blogger.  This year, he added author to that list with the publication of Taking Your Team to the Top.

 

Identifying Talent

Ted, you’re known for grabbing talent others passed over.  How were you able to see potential where others saw problems?

I think first and foremost you have to identify the talent pool that you’re dealing with.  Understand where the best and the brightest come from that can contribute to your industry.  In professional football, that’s dealing with the entering college football player pool, as well as players already in the NFL, and those available on the street (free agents).

 

Leading a team in any capacity is not a right but rather a privilege. -Ted Sundquist

 

Then you have to have a VERY good understanding of what traits are necessary in these individuals in order to execute the plans & procedures required to pursue your mission.  One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to football, and I’m sure that’s the case in other arenas as well.  We had prioritized our requirements prior to searching for those individuals to fill our positions of need.

You must be as detailed with the back end of your prospect list as you are with the top candidates. Look for those individuals that fulfill your priorities in the Critical Factors, those traits which run “vertical” through the organization and are analogous for every person on the team, regardless of position.  Know which factors are most important and which you can “live with.”  Then have a thorough breakdown of the Position Specifics, those skills necessary to fulfill a specific task required of the candidate.

Ensure that the positions are evaluated from various angles within the organization and not from a single viewpoint.  This eliminates personal bias and provides for a crosscheck of opinions.  Mistakes made on the front end of the selection process are difficult to correct once the player is on your team.

Greeting linebacker and team captain Al Wilson after a hard fought win on the road. Greeting linebacker and team captain Al Wilson after a hard fought win on the road.

If you take the time to do your homework, finding the pool of talent, identifying what’s most important to your team to accomplish the mission (Critical Factors [vertical traits] & Position Specifics [horizontal traits]), and then implementing an evaluation system from multiple angles & crosschecks . . . your chances of making mistakes are minimized and you’re more apt to find the best and the brightest talent to execute your plans towards goal achievement.

 

“The culture should reflect the mission.” Ted Sundquist

 

Creating A Team Mission Statement