It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out some professional teams are higher performing than others. Not only do high-performing teams contribute to better business outcomes, but their team members embrace the daily challenge to solve problems and achieve things together.
A team, by definition, is a group of individuals working together to achieve a goal. While the definition is simple, almost everyone has been a part of a group of individuals who weren't working to achieve a collective goal.
There have been many incredible studies about what makes a team successful. Including Google's two year study that found there were five characteristics of enhanced teams, with the most important being psychological safety. While psychological safety is important, there is another common thread of all high performing teams, and it consists of two words: great leadership.
Teams without great leadership might have periods of success, but it's literally impossible to sustain that success without great leadership. Here are five things leaders do to help make their teams more successful:
Conventional wisdom would say the person at the top of the proverbial food chain is the only leader, but that would be wrong. In order for any team to reach heights they never thought possible, it needs leaders at every level whose behavior reflects what it means to be a leader.
While this can be difficult to institutionalize, it starts with changing your mindset that you, in fact, aren't the only leader. Once your heart and mind are in the right place, you have to teach others what it means to be a leader and why it's so important they lead right where they are.
A recent estimate suggests that employees endure a staggering 55 million meetings a day in the United States. This tremendous time investment typically yields only modest returns. In a recent interview on the Follow My Lead Podcast, Steven Rogelberg, author of the new book The Surprising Science of Meetings said, "In many ways, meetings are the building blocks and core elements of our organizations. They are the venues where the organization comes to life for employees, teams, and leaders."
You can have quality and productive meetings by narrowing your focus on the purpose of each meeting and making sure each person attending is included in the discussion. While this can be difficult, there might be nothing more important in your business than having meetings that matter.
After interviewing hundreds of leaders and completing over 35,000 assessments of organizational leaders, I have come to define leadership this way:
Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.
There are two key words here; elevate others.
If you want your team to come together and achieve a goal, it requires you focus on elevating others on a daily basis. You cannot take a hands-off approach to leadership, but instead must be involved by challenging and coaching people to elevate their performance.
Leading a team today is more difficult than ever because of the constant pressure from the outside to create positive results immediately. While the best leaders absolutely care about the results, they lean into the journey instead of the results. Gary Vaynerchuk who preaches the importance of this all the time said during a recent interview, "if you don't love the process of what you're up to, you already lost."
Gary is right. Get your team to buy into the journey and embrace the process. The only way to do this is to celebrate the day to day work ethic and behavior rather than just the outcomes.
In many ways, the hardest element of leadership is being a leader of consequence and holding people accountable. Accountability is one of these words that has been used to the point that its meaning has been a bit lost. The actual definition of accountability is, "The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner."
The best leaders don't look at accountability as optional. You can make accountability an obligation by giving praise to your people when standards are exceeded, acknowledging people when standards are met, and giving direct feedback if your people fall short of those standards.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.