Create Your Teamwork Magic
The late, great coach, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort—that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." Extraordinary coaches like Lombardi understand flawless teamwork is the key to a winning team. When the magic happens, it’s not a matter of tricks—it’s about everybody playing hard and to their fullest potential. It’s about the players remaining focused on the collective win. At work, Disciplined Leaders value teamwork as one of their powerful assets—it’s typically a Vital Factor that will drive the lion’s share of success. So they consistently align what they say and what they do to reflect this value, their unwavering belief in the power of excellent teamwork. Within your culture, challenge yourself to honestly evaluate how well you are managing this Vital Factor. If you consistently leverage what’s working and take action against what’s not, you, too, will make the magic happen.
How can you improve teamwork in your organization? At MAP, we have a number of proven teamwork strategies. Here are a few of those surefire ways:
Use feedback to find and fix issues. Disciplined leaders create and nurture environments in which there’s open dialogue. Teammates can express what they think and feel without fear, embarrassment or other negative emotions. This safe communication culture enables the flow of feedback, which enables the leader and teammates to discover and understand what’s wrong and needs to change as well as what’s right and needs to be reinforced. Leaders who pay attention to what they’re learning from feedback set the example for teammates to do the same. However, in the off chance that the work environment includes someone or something that’s preventing the flow of feedback, an anonymous survey or consultant may be necessary for uncovering truth and identifying the change that must happen.
Habitually talk in ways that show teamwork matters. This is not just about telling your people that teamwork matters. It’s about looking for opportunities to educate them. For example, when you notice two people modeling the right behaviors, let them and others, if appropriate, know. Use it as an example in your conversations, meetings, and other staff communications. When teamwork is noticeably bad, address that, too, but don’t dwell on it. Look instead for even the slightest bits of improvement to build the forward momentum that can grow with each gesture of recognition and every bit of greater understanding.
Deal with troublesome teammates. It only takes one rotten player to ruin the morale, performance and potential of a team. Fail to take action and you’ll not only betray the team, but also lose leadership credibility and betray yourself. Even if that person is a star performer in terms of his or her skills yet doesn’t treat others in a way that contributes to teamwork, you will need to address their non-collaborative ways. In MAP’s newest book, “The Disciplined Leader,” we talk about this topic and how in the movie “Hoosiers,” a star player gets benched for failing to play as part of the team. Cheered on by the crowd—and his big ego—he turns the game played by his team into one that’s all about him winning. When this sort of common scenario starts happening in your culture, never turn a blind eye. It’s actually a serious problem, and one that won’t go away unless you, the leader, take it head on.
What’s made a difference in your ability to build teamwork?