5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams | BridgeBetween.com

5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams

You’ve got a team assembled. Now what?

Bodies in chairs do not a team make! There are elements which are necessary within a team for it to work as a finely oiled machine. After all, a solid team can create unbelievable results as well as competitive advantage in the marketplace:

“The idea of building a good team is not just an abstract: these are real people, real projects and real goals.”

But bringing together different personalities with a range of skills and goals, you have to find some common points to build a cohesive team.

It’s important for any good leader to build up their teams to reflect five common elements of team success:

  • Results
  • Accountability
  • Commitment
  • Conflict
  • Trust

We’ll look at each of these in turn, in ascending order:

1. Trust

If you’ve ever worked in a group where team members didn’t trust each other, you’ll know exactly how it feels, compared to a team that has built up that inter-member reliance.

From a business point of view, trust comes with transparency. You’re not guessing what your colleagues are thinking: you know. You’re not wondering if someone is talking behind your back because they’re not. A team that has trust has members that have each other’s backs in terms of support for one another.

They’re also quick to point out and accept errors. That’s because, with trust, you know that your colleague isn’t pointing out a mistake to get you in trouble or for their own gain. They’re pointing it out because it’s in the interest of the common goals that you all agree on.

Honesty is vital to building real trust.

2. Conflict

It’s unrealistic to imagine a team of people agreeing about everything, all of the time. Conflict is inevitable but it’s the style of conflict that the team engages in that matters. This is linked to trust in that if you don’t have a team whose members trust one another, you can’t have healthy debates about issues and ideas.

Constructive disagreement is totally acceptable, knowing that the goal each person has is not to ‘take down’ the other but to contribute to the good of the team.

A team that can engage in debate but still provide a safe environment where everyone is heard respectfully is a solid team!

3. Commitment

When everyone has a voice and that voice can be expressed in a safe, trust-based environment, then it’s that much more likely that everyone on the team will be committed to whatever decision comes at the end of the discussion.

It doesn’t become about winning or losing: the commitment to a team and its decisions means compromise, sometimes, but again with the knowledge that everyone is working toward a common goal or results.

4. Accountability

Teams flounder when there are members who aren’t pulling their own weight. A committed team will hold each other accountable to the plans, processes and steps that need to be taken, to ensure that everyone is ‘in the game’, so to speak.

No one takes the credit and no one takes the blame but every team member does have to serve every other team member and one way to do that is through accountability.

Think of a football team, as an analogy. The goal for the team as a whole is to get the ball to the other end of the field. Each person on the team has a role to play and they know what that role is. If the quarterback stops doing his job or the halfback quits halfway through a play, the team, as a whole, will fail, so they hold each other accountable.

By working as a team and supporting one another and holding each person accountable for their part of the play, the team works as a cohesive whole and will score.

“By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” (Source)

5. Results

This is the end goal of any team: to work together to achieve results. Whatever those results are, there is always a goal and getting there as a team creates strength that can be leveraged onwards.

With a solid grasp on these five elements, a team can make decisions quickly and effectively, leverage everyone’s differing skills, value all opinions, avoid destructive conflict, and have a solid goal that each member has a stake in reaching.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you want your team working and thinking this way, contact us to take part in the ‘Five Elements of Effective Teams’ program. It’s a benefit for the individuals, the team as a whole and the organization that supports them!

What Makes a Great Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

What Makes a Great Leader?

Are leaders born or is leadership learned?

It’s a little bit of both, but it’s more complicated than an either/or statement so let’s look more closely at the aspects of personality that make a great leader. Why? Because one thing that IS true is that calling someone a leader/CEO/President doesn’t make them a leader.

What are some personality traits of a great leader?

Authenticity

Someone who is not authentic or honest is obvious. This can be observed in social media interactions every single day. The ‘influencers’ who are successful are the ones who are authentic. The ones that have a great big ‘for sale’ sign on their foreheads will have a moment in the spotlight but it’s not a lasting reality.

In order to motivate people to follow your lead, you need to appeal to them at a core level. This can’t happen if you appear constantly inauthentic. Empathy and awareness of others, of their needs, is an important part of authenticity. A leader who is only concerned with the bottom line and not what is going on with his team members will not be authentic or effective, in the long run.

Intelligence

To make tough and important decisions, which a leader is bound to have to do, they have to be intelligent in order to be able to do this with confidence and authority. Intelligence doesn’t just mean knowing the details of a project inside and out, though.

There are other forms of intelligence: street smarts, if you will. Understanding how emotions between team members and throughout a hierarchy work and play a part in success, for example. It’s not all about knowing the ins and outs of a project or company. It’s about understanding how people work and how to work most effectively with them.

Positivity

To inspire people to do the work that they need to do, a leader must project positivity. There are few who would follow someone who was perpetually negative, always assuming the worst of a situation or a person and generally unable to see the brighter side. Real optimism is part of authenticity but it is so vital to a team’s well-being that it stands apart as an important aspect of leadership qualities.

Focus

A leader who cannot keep his or her eye on the prize, all the while ensuring the team members are still on board, won’t be effective either. Ultimately, most leaders have a goal or several goals and a vision of how to get where they are going.

It’s not a question of moving forward headlong without paying attention to what’s happening in the process. It’s the ability to do both: focus on the goal and keep all the tasks in line, at the same time.

Part of focus comes from accountability. A good leader is accountable to his or her team and makes them accountable for their areas of responsibility. It’s by trusting others to get their tasks done and working with them, rather than micromanaging every aspect, and also coming through on the tasks that he or she is responsible for, that a leader gains respect.

Over to you …

While some of these traits might seem difficult to pinpoint in any one individual, over time, a good leader will show these while an ineffective leader will falter. Seeking power for the sake of it is not what makes a good leader. Seeking a solid path to a goal and taking others with them for the ride: that’s the mark of a good leader.

Do you agree? What qualities do you think are essential to being a successful leader?

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader?

Communication is the key

There are leaders and then there are LEADERS. The latter are people who are able to inspire and motivate those around them with seemingly little effort. Those who follow their direction are energized, galvanized, uplifted and electrified.

These are some strong words to describe the mindset of some teams and the leaders who are truly successful at inspiring these sentiments can do one thing better than anything else: they can communicate well.

Exceptional leaders use all forms of communication

Humans communicate in a multitude of ways: voice is just one of them. A good leader will make use of all the ways of communicating at their disposal, including body language and listening skills.

A leader with arms folded across their chest all the time, eyes darting in every which direction like a nervous tic will not elicit a lot of confidence in those he or she is communicating with. Open stance body language and eye contact, with their full attention focused on whomever they are communicating with are important ways that a good leader will show, not just say, what they are trying to share.

A good leader will always be looking at the recipient of his or her words and actions to gauge reaction: are they responding? Are they nodding? Are they engaged?

If a recipient isn’t engaged, a good leader will adjust their stance, their body position, their facial expression, even their distance, to try and elicit a better, more positive reaction. Some of this is instinctive: we want to know that people are hearing us; but a lot of it is learned and acquired over time, by paying attention to cues from listeners.

Listening skills are just as important in communication as active speaking or body language. A leader who listens but does not actually hear what people are telling him or her isn’t really participating in a two-way discussion.

Without open discussion, a leader isn’t engaging with his or her team in a meaningful way but is instead issuing directions instead of creating a culture of communication.

Exceptional leaders are clear in their messaging

Whether talking about their vision for the company or the structure of management for a specific project, clear communication is vital. To that end, specific communication, using clear and unencumbered language in an even tone is the best way to ensure that everyone understands and is on the same page. Sarcasm, snark and even misplaced jokes can quite unintentionally create barriers to communication.

Clarity comes from confidence and knowledge. If a leader doesn’t really know what they are talking about or they are not confident in their knowledge, it shows. They will tend to say whatever comes into their mind instead of providing thoughtful comments or feedback.

It’s the mark of a good leader when even negative feedback is given in the spirit of improvement rather than as punishment.

Exceptional leaders are humble in their statements

A truly effective leader doesn’t expound on a topic as if they were the only one who understood things. They don’t pontificate. They share information from their point of view, in their own unique voice, with directness and politeness, and with evidence of appropriate reflection on what they are saying.

False or hyperbolic statements are easy to spot and a person who speaks that way regularly will eventually be dismissed by those around them.

Teams will follow a leader who understands them and whom they can understand, a leader who takes the time to listen and reflects back to them what he or she has heard. Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

 

What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

That old chestnut that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’ is tired but true and those team members who forget it are likely to struggle.

Working in a team isn’t necessarily easy. It takes effort and requires contributions from every member in order to be effective. There are, however, some specific things you can do as a member of a team to ensure that you are acting as effectively as possible and inspiring others to do the same.

Speak up… and listen

Communication is key. If you aren’t talking, sharing, being honest and open, you probably aren’t communicating effectively and if you don’t, the other members of your team won’t know what you’re thinking. A team can operate cohesively but that doesn’t mean that other members are mind readers!

In addition to speaking and sharing, a good team member will also listen. And not just passive listening, where they take in what is being said around them and don’t react to it in any way, but active listening, where they feedback what they think they have heard, to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. Further, other team members will feel that their contributions are valuable if you demonstrate an interest in what they are saying. If you are playing on your smartphone while others are speaking, you aren’t communicating effectively.

Don’t play the blame game

When something goes wrong during a project, proactive problem solving is the best result a team can strive for. It’s important not to waste a lot of time and energy blaming individuals for an error; it’s more valuable to own the problem as a team, assess the damage and figure out a way to move forward.

That said, a team’s spirit can be undermined if there is a need to hold someone or several persons accountable for their actions and that accountability is not exercised; but that’s different from laying blame.

Accountability to the team is important: if everyone is participating and ‘pulling their weight’, so to speak, there should be no issue that can’t be handled as a team. It’s when there are individuals who do not have the motivation, interest or ability to participate that issues of blame begin to crop up.

Be supportive and an active player

To follow on the notion of accountability, all team members need to be active participants, supportive of their teammates. Cooperation, reliability and flexibility are the order of the day and a desire to achieve working ability through consensus makes for the strongest teams.

If everyone pitches in and does their share, contributes with their strengths and supports others as they contribute with theirs, each team member will have done the best they can to achieve the goals of the team as a whole.

You can’t control how others behave, but you can control your own behavior and it behooves us all to put our best foot forward, in every circumstance.

Take credit as a team

Goals are achieved as a team and therefore accolades need to be given to the team as a whole. While there may be one person or a sub-group that stand out as being particularly important in the achievement, the reality is that most great achievement does not happen in a vacuum. There are a lot of people who contribute to it and those contributions should be acknowledged.

Some things not to do, as a team member?

  1. Not contributing and giving out signs of apathy—if you don’t want to be on the team, or you don’t subscribe to the goals as set out for the project, it will show. Your lack of contribution—sitting on the sidelines, as it were—will eventually be resented by the other members of the group, which in and of itself can damage the group’s dynamics.
  2. Not communicating, at best; being rude, at worst—the importance of communication cannot be overstated. If you are in over your head, say so. If you need something from someone else in order to do your part of a project, say so. If someone is trying to tell you that they disagree with something you have done or said, listen to them. Ignoring others or arguing with them disparagingly will be damaging to any project.
  3. Not trustworthy, poor timekeeper, won’t get it done—reliability is essential in being an effective team member. If everyone else is doing their share and working to the best of their abilities and you can’t be bothered to show up to most meetings and don’t complete the tasks that are on your to-do list, you’re letting the whole team down.
  4. Only interested in personal gain—doing things as a team means achieving (or failing) as a team. If you are engaging in activities for your own personal gain and with no regard for your teammates, you’re there for the wrong reasons.
  5. Blames others when falls short—a good team will take the hits together. Blaming other team members instead of constructively trying to alter the methods used going forward is a weak approach and one that ultimately will not benefit the team.
  6. Negative attitude / not buying into team goals—we all have disagreements or times when we don’t necessarily agree with everything that is being done on a project. But rather than sitting in a corner passive-aggressively ranting about it, or worse, complaining to anyone who will listen, do something about it. This all comes back to communication and contributing, for an effective team.

 

So much of what I’ve said here is common sense but it’s all worth repeating and reminding ourselves about what works and what doesn’t, in a team environment.

 

3 Ways Gratitude Enhances Leadership by Shannon Cassidy

3 Ways Gratitude Enhances Leadership

The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you will have to express gratitude for.—Bill Gates

As we enter the fall season, we begin to think of fall holidays, like Thanksgiving. But gratitude is not relegated to once a year on the 4th Thursday. Gratitude enhances leadership when practiced regularly and results in a more successful enterprise.

How? Here are three ways a simple attitude of thankfulness can change your business:

  1. Being grateful for your employees cultivates loyalty.

A typical day for any leader contains moments where you rely on your team’s expertise and work ethic. In those moments, the simple words “thank you” are vital. Everyone wants to be appreciated for their skill set and when they receive that pat on the back, loyalty to their leader is created. According to an article in Business News Daily, a recent survey revealed that 93% of respondents believed bosses were more likely to be successful if they were grateful.

Simple and sincere appreciation is the most effective form of positive reinforcement, and it’s free. The loyalty of a good employee is an effective tool for any company.

  1. Being grateful for your position as a leader cultivates humility.

Young Benjamin Franklin was said to be cocky and ego-centric.  But he was also smart enough to realize that he was becoming morally bankrupt. He set out to find character traits in which he needed to improve.  He came up with a list of twelve traits. Confident and proud of himself, he showed the list to a trusted friend probably with the idea of boasting of his efforts to improve. His friend then gave him a jolt that led to adding a 13th trait – humility. Leaders who cultivate humility inspire their employees. Egotism in a boss often fuels resentment, but humility creates a cheerful environment where employees want to succeed for the boss and the company.

Freibergs.com made the powerful observation:

When you are in awe of what you have, the immediate response is a deep sense of appreciation: “Whom do I repay?” “What does it mean to give back in life?” “How can I be a better steward of what I have?” These questions leave little room for envy, entitlement, or complaint. It’s hard to complain when we are truly thankful, but it’s hard to be thankful when we think we are entitled and take so much for granted.

Simply being grateful for your position as a leader can improve your company and your team.

  1. Being grateful cultivates mental strength.

For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.  A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Gratitude fosters mental strength. There’s an old saying that if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. This isn’t just a fluffy idea. Several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude. It seems that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.

What leader would not want loyalty, humility and mental strength? These qualities can be characteristics of your company when you and other leaders in your company cultivate gratitude. Want a more successful company? Practice gratitude all year long.

Want to cultivate gratitude? Order your own gratitude journal here.

Sources:

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7157-power-perspective-leadership.html

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7157-power-perspective-leadership.html

http://linked2leadership.com/2013/11/26/humble-and-grateful-the-truly-effective-leader/

http://www.freibergs.com/resources/articles/leadership/lead-with-gratitude/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/