I work with individuals and with teams, and help each to fulfill their potential. In my coaching, I love to see the changes that come when a person gains new insight into themselves; why they act, think, and feel the way they do. This empowers a person of goodwill to make intentional changes in the way they approach life, and in how they interact with others. In these ways I can help them achieve clarity of purpose, and authenticity in the daily ups and downs of work and life.
Working with teams is a little different; one size does not fit all! But the principles are the same. A team that is willing to embrace honest reflection, a team that encourages one another to act on those reflections, will always do better than one where differences are overlooked or ignored.
So what are the characteristics of teams that flourish? Here are some initial thoughts:
Start with trust: the leader(s) demonstrate trust by encouraging open communication, getting to know each team member as a unique individual with strengths to offer, and refusing to push blame for failure off to others. The chief executive of FedEx was reported as saying “At the end of the day, we are essentially selling trust.” The is true in any endeavor, not just the logistics business.
Build on trust by focusing on fit: not gym-rat fit, but jigsaw fit! Match roles on the team to each team member’s strengths. Experience and talent play a part, but engaging each one’s strengths is crucial for a team to flourish. For more on this, read “Go Put Your Strengths To Work” by Marcus Buckingham.
Grow leaders by challenge: start with encouraging each team member to increase their trust in others on the team who differ in strengths and personalities. Help them identify and understand others’ uniqueness, and challenge them to bring out the best in others. A healthy team is about everyone, not just someone. A flourishing team will be characterized by each member investing in others.
Cultivate culture: Peter Drucker rightly said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast every morning.” A culture of servant leadership (cultivated by characteristics 1 through 3) will shine brightly in any organization, leading it to high productivity, high morale, and low turnover. For more on this, I love Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Advantage.”
All these characteristics fall into the realm of interpersonal relationships. That’s why teamwork is so powerful, when it works!
I have never met a person who had no room for improvement in interpersonal skills. That is why I focus so much on emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Teams that flourish are comprised of those who know they can grow, and are willing to work at it. If you are leading a team with room to grow in this area, it may be helpful to invite an outsider to help you apply and develop these characteristics. I know many skilled “outsiders” in these areas - let me know if I can help you find one!
Here’s to teams that flourish!