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Building Teams for Leaders: It's the Basics

Any leader that is successful understands that he cannot do it alone. The good leaders are well prepared and adept at building teams, especially building teams with future leaders. Just one of the definitions of leadership states that leaders have the ability to get others to do things they might not do on their. I would add that leaders get others to do things they normally would not do, not because they have to, but because it's the right thing to do and is good for the whole, not just individuals.

This is my list for building a successful team. It's simple and you may have your own ideas of building teams. The purpose here is to share what I've found to work, and work well. Implement into your systems and organizations or add your own spin, but the basics should remain.

BE a TEAM

This sounds simplistic and it is. However, leaders need to start acting and operating as a team. It starts with small, seemingly unimportant things, activities and tasks. Operate and function together, ask each other for help and start drawing on the different strengths of each member.

The big challenge here is including those that may be difficult to deal with or who aren't bought in yet. Don't discount their contributions to the mission.

As the leader, delegation plays a large role in creating a team environment, don't feel like you must do it all or can do it better than anybody else.

EMPHASIZE the GROUP

This is based mostly on how you as the leader talk and act. Use as few personal pronouns as possible and be inlcusive with information. It's not your team, it's our team. It's not their problem, it's our problem. 

The more you over communicate to the group that everybody is important and their problems are everybody's problems, the quicker they will get on board. In many instances this is where pride starts to set in with the group. That pride starts to turn into cohesiveness and then you see team-driven results.

ESTABLISH PRIORITIES and EXPECTATIONS--STANDARDS

There must be boundaries in the way of expectations and priorities. A team that doesn't know what is expected of them and that hasn't been explained to them the priorities is a team that will not have confidence in their role.

The leader must establish expectations that all team members will be held accountable to and priorities that focus on the successes of the organization and the team; not individual accomplishments. Minimum standards must be included here, but expect the team to exceed the minimum. Whatever the minimum expectations and standards are laid out, the team should be encouraged and shown to surpass them.

Remember, what you allow becomes your standard. That includes your actions and pursuit of excellence.

HAVE their BACK

Finally, make sure your team knows that you have their back when things go wrong. When there are mistakes or your team has underperformed, take full responsibility. Don't let your team members take the blame. It is your team operating under your expectations and standards, when it comes time for accountability, be the first to accept on their behalf.

The biggest mistake you can make is to shift blame to team members or "throwing them under the bus." Even if the member is the primary cause for the mistake, you must accept that as yours. When the time is right and your are with your team in private, you can sort out where extra training, more information or counseling is needed, not in front of your boss.

When your team knows you have their back, they will work hard to limit your exposure from their mistakes. They will also trust you in other decisions and circumstances that are critical to the successes of the team and the organization.

Be an active participant in the team, not just an observer and work with your members. Trust only comes from familiarity and understanding and that only comes from building relationships in your organization. The stronger and more effective the team, the more likely that the leader is doing their job.

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