Over the last year, I have coached multiple teams. I have also watched a number of teams from the board perspective and have observed a few athletic teams. It always amazes me to see a talented group of people…who are supposed to be a team…fall apart at the seams. It’s just sad to watch.
So, today, I want to leave you with five things you can do…not tomorrow…not next week…but today to rebuild momentum so that your team (corporate, business, athletic, volunteer or family team) can become energized and get back to winning…at whatever game you are playing!
1) Provide structure and accountability.
Leaders often think that their teams need to just “do their own thing and get the job done.” I have never seen this work. Teams need structure…they need a dependable process to follow, and they need to be held accountable to that process. Hmm…I wonder if Coach Roy Williams of the UNC Tarheels basketball team just let his team “do their own thing” this year. I wonder if he said “Hey guys…just go play some basketball, and I’m headin’ over to Dairy Queen to get a soft serve cone…let me know how you did when I get back!” I would bet $1,000.00 that this was not the case…I bet this team had a structure, a system and a process to get the job done. This team went on a mission this year to win the NCAA championship, and I have heard through the grapevine that this team has structure, discipline and a strong accountability system. They commit, and they follow through…and here they are…national champs of 2009.
2) If you are the leader, take 100% responsibility for your team falling apart, and start changing your leadership behaviors NOW!
I hear this everyday “Well…Susan is not doing her job. Or…gosh…we really don’t have much leadership on our team.” This is just plain ridiculous and lame. If you are the leader, and your team is not doing their job, and you are lacking leadership, look in the mirror…right now! Go stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself “What am I doing or not doing that is causing this team to fall apart?” As I have said multiple times, s— does not flow upstream. It flows downstream. If your team is falling apart, they are probably following your lead as a leader. Your team is probably feeling like you are the one not stepping up and that you have basically given up on your team. It’s time to step up and change your life…change your leadership…start taking command, and get in there and fight for your team.
3) Sit down with each person on your team immediately and map out a plan for the next 6-12 months.
This one step is almost never done. Each person on your team has a role to play…and it’s time to sit down and map out a plan for development for each person…an individual developmental map of what the next 6-12 months is going to look like and what you expect. What skills does this person need? What does she need to improve? What managerial skills are missing? What are both the hard and soft skills needed so that your team can win? Sit down, and write out a 6 month plan…a plan which focuses on strengths and how to use those strengths to pull up the shortcomings.
4) Be a MAN or a WOMAN…TAKE COMMAND!
There has to be a leader in command (not sitting by in idle mode) when your team is falling apart. The old saying “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” is such a worn out cliche, but it is so true in this situation. When you take command, you have to be willing to take full responsibility for making the change, take tough stands and keep your cool. You have to be energized by tough challenges and not give up. You have to get in there, roll up your sleeves, and tell your team “We are going in this direction…either get on the bus or off the bus!” You have to know your cutting line, and you may have to go head to head with another person on your team to get the group moving in the right direction. If you are sitting and waiting for the wind to take you where you need to go, you are not a leader…you are a follower. If this is your approach, and if you can’t come up with big ideas, new strategies and to convincingly voice your opinions, then get out of the way, and get a new leader on board. It may be time when you look into the mirror to just say “I can’t lead this team. I’m just not the right person for now!”
5) Include some fun along the way.
I don’t believe that the fun should be 75% of this equation. I am totally into fun, but let me tell you…the teams that “win” are working hard will tell you that it is not all fun and goofing off.. However, they will tell you they are having the time of their lives, because they are winning. They work, they perspire, they get in there with grit and get the job done, and at the end of the day, they celebrate. Sit down with your team and brainstorm on how to get stronger by using creativity and how to make it fun. Companies like TheGreatEscapeRoom.com exist today specifically to create fun team-building events for corporate environments. Most leaders never sit down and talk about how they are going to get better and have fun doing it. When the fun stops, teams fall apart. They lose their spirit. So, get in there, and work hard…and play hard!