We find that businesses fail because they don’t build the teams to support them. There is poor direction, and a lack of cultural guidance. I’ve put together a small list of things that are essential when you want to build better teams.
In 2005, I headed up a fundraising initiative for an eco-friendly timber manufacturer. We needed 12 million euros in financing to get the idea off the ground. A couple of months into the project, things were looking great. We had a significant win; securing a working agreement for 6 million euros.
It was an exciting time for me. I’d invested countless hours into pitch preparation, business planning and financial modelling. I thought it would be enough to bring it all to life. I was wrong. The project never took off. This was my the first and most important lesson about business.
I learnt that the difference between winning business and a failing one is the people. The right team can turn any mediocre idea into something mind-blowing. If need be, they’ll also dump that idea and make something else incredible from scratch.*(1)
Build Better Teams and “Begin with the End in Mind.”
Define your end game – what problems do you want to solve for your customers? What is your vision for your company? A business vision translates into a way of thinking that is evolving. It forces you to question the business you’re in, rather than the products or services you offer.
For example, Kodak was adamant that it was in the business of film processing. If only they realised they were in the business of capturing memories. They failed to embrace digital cameras until it was too late.
For more on this, check out, Stephen Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Or Simon Sinek’s talk- Start With Why?
Take the time to define your values, then rank them in order. A good way to rank them is to have a think about the last time you felt frustrated. Ask yourself which values you have violated recently.
The greater the frustration, the more importance you place on that value. You are not at ease with yourself when you do not live up to your values. A lack of integrity is what sets people off.
A shift towards self-analysis is empowering. It gives you responsibility for your actions and in turn moves you away from the blame game.
Assertive behaviour is what you need. It puts you in a position to respond and address issues with people in a way that is clear, supportive and caring. At first, you will feel awkward, but like with anything practice makes all the difference.
Are you a person that retreats into isolation (you stop communicating with your team) or do you lash out? Whatever reaction or excuse, it doesn’t justify your behaviour. None of these reactions results in a positive outcome. Silence leaves your team confused. And well, aggression cuts you off from your team.
So, knowing yourself is about understanding your default. The sooner you can recognise your default the sooner you can move past it and build better teams.
Official Team – You Are Your Company
Surround yourself with people who know their stuff. You need to seek out individuals that have proven themselves and/or have potential. Team composition is critical, and you don’t get many chances to change them.
Feedback – Raising Awareness and Acceptance
Keep it real, every great leader has unofficial advisors. Comprised of close friends and ground keepers. These advisors tell you that you need a reality check. This feedback tends to be challenging to take on board, but sometimes it’s what you need. Figuring out what you’re resisting is likely to unlock your potential and that of your team.
Leadership and responsibility go hand-in-hand. You need to build an aptitude to deal with an ever-increasing amount of challenges. A straightforward way to shift your mindset is to start every day by reciting:
“Today, I am going to need to deal with some challenging issues. I will choose how to respond to them so that they become a lesson for me to grow”.
To turn a mindset into the behaviour, you will need to repeat this for at least 30 days. Its aim is to empower you by giving you ownership of your situation. Turning you into a responsible and accountable team leader.
*(1)Reference:. Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull is a beautiful journey about working towards a vision. It’s also one of my favourite reads.