An outstanding team is a team that has had outstanding leadership. These are the teams that may carry on with greatness after losing their leader, even if they do without leadership for a fairly long period of time.
But when a team doesn’t perform well, is it the fault of the team or the fault of the leader? Usually it is the latter. Top military leaders have long known how exceptional leaders can take an otherwise ordinary team to greatness, and how mediocre leaders can bring a great team down to their level.
What Is a “Bad Team”?
So what exactly is a bad team? Is it made up of misfits and underachievers? Possibly. But it may also be made up of extraordinarily talented people whose skills and talents are not being utilized or encouraged by their leaders. Bad teams can be made of good people – people who are unfortunate enough to fall under the influence of an incompetent, indifferent, or ill-prepared leader. Bad teams don’t just happen spontaneously, just as good teams don’t. Having a competent, hardworking, well-trained leader is indispensable to having a phenomenal team. What do these exceptional leaders do? Several things.
Great Leaders Set and Attain Goals
Setting and achieving important goals requires a leader to take “ownership” of many critical areas, such as personnel, finances, and competition. The outstanding leader knows that to achieve or exceed the goals he or she is responsible for, it’s necessary to understand each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, and to frequently set aside ego in order to have the right team dynamic in play.
They Know How to Make Decisions and Solve Problems
Teams will encounter obstacles and challenges, and each of these will require wise, timely decision-making. Therefore, excellence in leadership requires the leader to sometimes make difficult decisions. It’s OK for the leader to sometimes say, “This was an incredibly hard decision, but these were my reasons for it.” In fact, capricious or dishonest decision-making is a sure way to alienate team members from their leader and from each other.
They Know What’s Important and How to Focus on It
The best leaders know how to prioritize, so that efforts receive the best possible return on investment. The perfectionist, for instance, has to know when it’s time to set aside nitpicking and move forward rather than become mired in perfectionistic tasks that don’t advance the team toward its goals. And when goals have been prioritized, the great leader knows how to focus personally and help the team focus on achieving them.
Great Leaders Have and Inspire Faith in Others
Not only do the best leaders get to know each team member’s strengths, they make clear the confidence they have in each team member. Furthermore, they are able to inspire team members to have faith in each other by helping each person shine in their particular role. This isn’t blind faith that a group of people will be able to accomplish the impossible, despite indications to the contrary. Rather, it is faith based on a keen understanding of what each team member does best, and how all those abilities can be combined to the greatest effect.
Finally, Great Leaders Get Results
And of course, great leaders get results. You can be inspiring and focused and decisive, setting goals left and right, but if you don’t lead the team to accomplish what it’s tasked with, you’re hardly a great or effective leader. A leader won’t remain a leader for very long if he or she is unable to achieve the results he or she is expected to achieve. The most exceptional leaders know how to put each team member’s unique blend of skills and talents to use, so that no single person is overloaded, and nobody is left out of the process of achieving goals.
You’ve probably heard the quote attributed to Constantin Stanislavski that says, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Excellent leaders know this both in their own personal capacity and on behalf of the people on their teams. Bad teams aren’t the ones made up of incompetent people. They’re the teams that are placed under the leadership of someone who doesn’t know or doesn’t care what they’re doing. I would love for you to check out my books, as well as my speaking and training services. Let’s make sure your organization has the best leadership, so it will have the best teams.