I’m going out on a limb here to predict the 2014 Super Bowl. No, not the winner, but the winning team’s traits. No matter who hoists the trophy, I guarantee the newly crowned champion will have the six characteristics I’ll be covering in this article.
The prediction isn’t that tricky because all winning teams (sports or non-sports) have them. Does your team have them? If not, you have some work to do.
So here you go. Winning teams:
Have exceptional leaders. Are you exceptional? Are you leading by example? Are you motivating and inspiring your team to achieve the extraordinary? Commit today to think big, to set strong and vivid examples, to walk the walk. Challenge yourself to greatness. Be a role model and mentor for your team. Communicate extraordinarily well. Communication is a two-way street. First, get your team on board by sharing your vision. Talk about where you’ve been, where you are now and where you’re going. Show them how they fit into the big picture, and regularly reiterate the reasons why you all can and will be successful. Provide feedback often. And second, let them talk and then just listen. Team members are closer to problems and solutions, so let them help you. Stay ahead of problems by offering plenty of ways for your team to communicate with you.
Get recognized for stellar performance. Ask how they’d like to be rewarded and then do that. Nourish your team. The key question on the mind of every team member is this: Am I valued? If they can answer with yes, they’ll stay and work hard. Team members who feel cared for and honored will perform all day long. Support work/life balances. Recognition matters more than the salary you provide.
Have mutual respect. Recognition leads to another important element: Respect. When you acknowledge your team members in a public way, respect emerges among cohorts. Set the tone for respect. Treat them like the pros they are. Relationships build true motivation.
Have lots of opportunities to grow. Show me someone who doesn’t want to get better and I’ll show you a corpse – or at least someone you don’t want on your team. Humans want to improve. Let them by giving them plenty of technical and professional training. Meaningful results are impossible to achieve without professional development. Invest in your team members and they’ll take care of business.
Have a relentless desire to improve and to be the best. One of the key reasons winning teams have members who show this desire to be the best is because of leaders who have ensured that the first five traits are in place. It all leads to this relentless desire to succeed. And that’s what it’s all about. Keep that desire red hot by realizing their success is your success, and always asking your team members how you can help them be more successful.
I’ll finish with another prediction: that winning teams always face challenges. Just because a team is good doesn’t mean it won’t face adversity – it’s how teams handle the adversity that sets them apart. I once saw a bumper sticker that sums this up: Life isn’t about avoiding the storms. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Does your team have all of these traits? If not, which are missing and what will you start doing today to add them? What challenges is your team facing now? How can you overcome those challenges and achieve your goals this year?