6 Keys to a Winning Team

Here are ActionCOACH’s 6 Keys to a Winning Team …

Key #1 – Strong Leadership
Most business owners and leaders have this question: how they can I get my employees to work together, quit blaming each other for problems, and take more ownership for their job?

The questions these leaders need to ask themselves is: Do you meet meet regularly, one-on-one with your employees, do you blame your employees for problems, and do you truly take full ownership and accountability for what is going on in the business?

It is interesting that the employees are a reflection of the owner.

In a single word, the first key to a winning team is leadership. A strong leader is one that demonstrates integrity and competence. He or she is someone that people trust. Strong leaders also have developed the communication skills to enroll and inspire others to understand and embrace their vision. It is apparent that for a team to win, they need strong leadership. For your business or department to win, it needs a strong leader.

Let’s begin with the definition of a leader. A leader is a person that other people follow. A strong leader enrolls and inspires a full team to follow him or her. So why do people choose or refuse to follow another person? It can be summarized in one word; trust. People will follow people they trust.

So why will others trust and follow you? It is because they believe you have their best interest as a priority, and they also believe that you have the competence to achieve results. You have Heart; integrity, ability, a proven track record, strength of character, reputation, and you have Spirit; clear communication, confidence, drive, and passion. You possess the desire and the ability.

Key #2 – Common Goal
Do you have a clear vision for your business or department? The second key for a winning team is to have a common goal. To win the game as a team, it is essential for everyone to share a clearly defined target, and it is the responsibility of the leader to effectively communicate that goal to the team.

Once you have a strong leader that has the respect of the team, the next logical question is “Where are we going?”

In the ActionCOACH world, we speak of the importance of Destination Mastery. A winning team will have a clear Common Goal and plan of action to achieve it. Great goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results oriented, and have Time frame. A SMART goal has the ability to focus the team on a specific, defined outcome. It needs to be believable, and direct the team toward the ultimate vision of the organization.

The effectiveness of a strong goal is more in what it DOES rather than what it IS. So as a strong leader, the challenge is to get with your team, and set a strong, common goal to bring you together. It is the second key to a winning team.

Key #3 – Rules of the Game
The third key for winning is to know the rules of the game. Can you imagine trying to win a game if you didn’t know the rules? Often employees lack motivation and productivity because the expectations are unclear. Do your employees know the company core values? Have you invested time in defining core values and communicating the company culture to every team member?

Once you have a strong leader that has the respect of the team, and a common goal to shoot for, then it is time to define the playing field.

Most people have an inherent resistance to rules. Basically, no one likes to be told by someone else what they can and cannot do. It feels like an infringement on their personal identity and freedom. So with that challenge in mind, let’s talk rules of the game.

If you put rules in the context of a game, they take on a different feel and value. The rules in a game define the game. A game with no rules is mayhem, and certainly not too much fun. The rules in a game define how you win, how you succeed, and communicate the appropriate relationship between the team members – their roles and functions defined.

For a winning team to embrace and love the rules, the leader must communicate the function of the rules.

As the leader, it is your responsibility to work with your team to define your culture and your rules. This will bring a security and effectiveness to the team. It removes guesswork and distractions that come from trying to hit a moving target.

So clearly defined rules of the game need to be known and followed if you are going to have a winning team. Next we will look at getting the team into action with an action plan.

Key #4 – Action Plan
A fourth key for producing a winning team is to support risk taking. For people to maximize their potential, they need to try new things, even make mistakes! The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who never try anything new. Winning teams will always be willing to stretch their limits. As long as you have defined the rules of the game, the team should be encouraged to innovate within those defined boundaries.

Procrastination is the enemy of all progress and learning, and it is rooted in fear. Fear is a paralyzing emotion or expectation about negative outcomes. The antidote and cure for fear is action. For the action to be most effective, it should be preceded by some organized thought and planning. Very simply stated, a great action plan has three components – WHO does WHAT by WHEN. That is it. If you are clear on the goal and the rules, then organize your plan into logical steps, and delegate each step to the right team member. Assign an accountability and deadline, and you are ready to go.

Key #5 – Support Risk Taking
A fifth key to a winning team is to have a written action plan. Great ideas, an inspiring vision, and even a happy work place don’t automatically produce results. Results come from taking action. Each team member needs to know daily who is supposed to do what by when.

To maximize the potential of every team member, the leader and organization must support risk taking. What does that mean? It means that fear of mistakes and failure must go.

The action plan keeps the accountabilities for the established routine in place. While the team is innovating and experimenting, they are still performing the necessary bread and butter tasks and responsibilities by sticking to the action plan.

Key #6 – 100% Involvement and Inclusion
Finally, the sixth key to a winning team is 100% involvement and inclusion. Each member must know that they are accepted by the team, and each member must also choose to participate 100%. Those who are not fully engaged pull down the team’s performance. 100% participation creates powerful team synergy.

So far I have given you the information to create a wonderful action plan to bring your team to new levels of performance and results. Every key is essential for maximizing your team performance, and this last key is absolutely no exception.


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