By Voss W. Graham
look at the most successful teams in any sport, you will find a
common bond within the team. Sometimes, it is called chemistry – as
if just the right mix of chemicals has created a special new
formula. Other times, it is postulated that there was strong
leadership provided by key players and everyone else responded
favorably to their lead or “charisma.”
merit to the leadership issue – with one notable exception. If a
team begins to heavily rely upon their selected or anointed leader –
they become dependent upon the leader for their overall
performance. While great leaders are necessary and very helpful to
raising performance standards – true leadership for high performance
teams is shared leadership.
team has “a” leader, the team becomes dependent upon the leader for
their confidence and most importantly – their “will” to win! This
is fine as long as the leader is focused, injury-free and having a
good game. However, if the leader is unprepared, loses
self-confidence or is just having a bad day – the team usually
suffers and can even lose – even when they have more talent.
the point of shared leadership – interdependence! At the pinnacle
of long term team success is the principle of shared leadership.
Every member of the team is taking ownership and responsibility for
the overall performance of the group. No one panics or becomes
negative at the first sign of adversity. In fact, teams with shared
leadership strengthen their resolve and focus at the first sign of
adversity and unite as one. They support each other and take care
of their own responsibilities to insure the success of the team.
Excellent teams know that each person has an assigned duty or role
for each play. Personal pride can override fear and indecision,
while moving each individual within the team to carry out the
business, shared leadership principles can take a group of
individuals to a higher level of performance and productivity. Here
are six fundamental elements for shared leadership to flourish in
the business team environment:
Respect for each individual is the foundation of effectiveness
in team performance. This is the underwritten rule that gets the
credit for excellence in team-based performance. The key point is
the understanding that each person on the team brings uniqueness to
the group. This uniqueness is then honored thus creating a binding
unity of the group. When this is present within a team, there is a
willingness to commit to a purpose larger than self. Thus, the whole
group moves to the next level of performance.
Trust in each other is a factor that is unique to human beings.
It is based upon feelings regarding the abilities and integrity of
individuals. Trust is the invisible bond that allows our
expectations and standard to rise to higher levels. When present,
trust connects each individual at an emotional level. It engages
each person in the causative factor of higher performance. When
there is a lack of trust in a team, factors such as fear of failure,
blame games, low self-esteem and an over reliance upon rules and
laws become the norm.
common or shared goal is the trigger mechanism for high
performance in changing environments. Goals become the source of
positive emotional energy used to drive challenging results,
providing meaning and purpose to the team. Groups that “wing it” or
have goals just as activities are doomed for underperformance and
probable failure. Dynamic teams use the shared leadership principles
and a common goal to give each team member a clear understanding of
their contribution to results.
Personal accountability for results is a major contributor to
high performance for individuals and teams. The key point of
personal accountability is the focus upon results and outcomes over
activities. Many under-performing groups are focused upon doing the
activities right even if the activities are of low priorities
relative to attaining results. The lack of personal accountability –
the act of achieving results and outcomes – is the main reason for
Effective communication drives results and increasing
productivity. The primary factor in making communication effective
deals with the choices made by individuals. Since most people send
messages – written or spoken – in a method that they would
understand, and will end up missing the mark with 50 to 70% of other
people. They end up wasting time explaining a communication process.
The wise leader makes choices regarding the delivery of messages so
that others will understand the first time.
Discipline to stay the course is the master key to success for
teams and individuals. Discipline is needed by leaders to stay on
track when adversity or difficult times become obstacles in goal
attainment. The strong leader will rely upon continual effort to
keeping moving forward when times are tough. A lack of discipline is
the leading cause of failure in business today. Effort and
discipline go together in getting greater results.
question for you – does your team share the leadership role or
depend upon one or two individuals to provide the energy, passion
and discipline for the winner’s edge? What can you do to get the six
elements engaged in your organization?
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