Every leader strives to have an excellent team – a truly remarkable group. Just like so many things in life, the formula for success is not really that complicated, but it requires discipline and consistency.
Everyone knows the team with the smartest people usually wins. But creating an excellent team far transcends pure intelligence; it requires a system for sustainability.
Follow this five-step process and you’ll build a winning team, year after year:
1. Hire excellent people. It all starts with talented individuals. Intelligent people will bring exceptional knowledge, perspective, personal values and interpersonal skills that will add to the overall skill set of your team. Never compromise on this component. It’s the backbone each and every team needs to be successful.
2. Empower them. Every time a new employee comes through the door, sit down with them and explain your expectations of excellence. This framework is like an operating system for a computer: it provides structure so the programs can work effectively. The more you empower your employees to think and do with a perspective of excellence, the more they will rise to the occasion, and build trust in both the team and confidence as an individual.
3. Be there when they need help. We all need help from time to time. I feel sorry for the person who always says, “I’ve got this. I’m fine. No thanks, I don’t need help.” This person won’t improve because of his or her unwillingness to learn new skills. Raising your hand to ask for help is a sign of strength; it shows you’re willing to learn from those smarter than you and embrace the notion that “none of us is as smart as all of us.”
4. Stay out of their way. Empowered, excellent people don’t need (or want) to be micromanaged. They know when to reach out for help, and that when they do, you’ll be there for them. I like the philosophy of former University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor, Leo Morton, who describes his leadership style as the sweeper in curling, removing obstacles so others can succeed.
5. Sing their praises. It doesn’t matter if you can’t really sing well at all. Every chance you get, and with sincerity and specificity, tell your colleagues how great your team really is. Remember what leadership guru, Jim Collins, taught us about Level 5 Leadership: Great leaders know when to be the window or the mirror.
When you hire excellent people, empower them to do great work, but remember to be there when they ask for help. Otherwise, stay out of the their way and sing their praises.
Once you’ve embraced the five steps to creating an excellent workforce, you’ll be able to build and sustain a winning culture for your business.