Throughout my leadership career, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of several top performing teams. These teams were stretched to the limits and worked very hard, but to this day when asked, the members say it was one of the best experiences of their career. Why is that? What is it that leads to that kind of team success even when the work was challenging or even high stress?
Over the years, I’ve found consistencies in the leadership dynamics that create these successful teams. And as a leader, I’ve learned that when I employ those dynamics, they nearly always drive success on every type of team. Let’s dig into what they are and how leaders can leverage them to create a high performing team.
Feeling valued is the key factor in developing high performing teams. It’s the sense that each member feels valued for who they are and their contributions to the team and organization. This concept is easy to say, but it takes time, effort, and authentic interest in each person to create this type of engaged team.
As a leader, this starts with setting realistic team and individual goals. It’s important to note that these goals must be communicated in a way that the team understands how they align with the business group, overall company goals, and the team itself. Acknowledge and celebrate successes towards these goals throughout the year, and coach for setbacks or roadblocks.
Next, a leader must truly get to know their team members, personally and professionally. Questions to ask might include: What inspires you? Where do you get your energy? What are your current and future career goals? What’s important to you and how can I support your development? What do you see as your unique skills, abilities, and future potential?
As you start to get a feel for your team, utilize their strengths and passions to develop the team and achieve results. For example, is there a project that you could assign to stretch a team member who has shown promise in planning and implementation? Can you delegate one of your monthly report responsibilities to a team member who gets analytics? Continually look for stretch assignments to develop your team members and move your business forward.
Finally, acknowledging their successes and contributions goes a long way to how valuable they feel to the team and organization. A simple “thank you” cannot be heard enough. Communicating each team members’ accomplishments throughout your leadership organization also builds confidence and a sense of pride within your team.
Coupling genuine care and interest in your team with sound business and development goals builds the foundation for the team to feel valued for their contributions. From my experience, teams that feel valued are highly collaborative, willingly go above and beyond the expected, have more fun, and produce high impact results.