The outdoor season is upon us and that means family reunions and bar-b-ques. You might be wondering what reunions and BBQs have to do with leadership. Interestingly, the evidence suggests there is a great deal to be learned. People who study high performing teams have discovered many traits are shared among these teams and one surprise for you to learn might be that one of the elements correlating most highly among high performing team is that the really great teams have reunions. For leaders, I think this bears investigation.
First, let’s define a few ideas:
- A team is not a group of people who work in the same area and report to the same person; that is a group or a mob. A team is a group of people who share a common fate and a commitment to each other’s success.
- A shared fate means they have a common purpose. They have a common belief and understanding about why they are doing something, not just what they doing.
- A commitment to each other’s success is how the team members feel responsible for each other.
It is this last point that is the most important to successful teams. “Team members feel responsible for each other.” Like a family at a reunion, real team members are “all in.” You can’t quit a family and hire on with your neighbors. Someone once said “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Imagine how it would look if you had that kind commitment and dedication among the people in your work team.
Now ask yourself as a leader, what you can DO to create more of this experience:
- Tell your team what you expect from them. Be clear and to the point: “I expect that you will support each other.” Also tell them what you do not expect: behavior that divides (gossiping, sniping, etc.) Expect Adult-to-Adult behavior at all times.
- Communicate to the team their purpose. Give them a common finish line that is tied to a customer. Make the customer as personal as you can; pictures, stories, etc.
- Solve problems as a team. When challenges come up, get your team together and get them all involved by saying “We have a problem…”
- Define winning in “team” terms. It’s not about all-stars and heroes; weak links are everyone’s concern.
- Involve the team in building the team. Have them help select, orient, and train new team members. People support what they help create.
- Celebrate team achievements – real ones. No green ribbons and group hugs, but party like rock stars when your team really achieves.
And, maybe have a reunion and grill up some hot dogs…