Lead Teams Designed to Win

December 4, 2012
Lead Teams Designed to Win
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You work hard to make team contributions and respect your teammates. But your peer has a “me first” mindset. They steal your thunder, but don’t shoulder their own share of the workload. Even when you try to approach them to talk about it they just retreat into their shell – in complete denial!

So what do you do, you ask? I spent years developing methods to manage these kind of difficult team members, and here are my “3 Top Tips” toward fair, collaborative, productive team relationships.

#1: There’s No “ME” in Team

The key to building high-performance teams is to design them correctly in the beginning, back in the planning stage.

  • The idea is to make your project like one of those challenging leadership training obstacle courses that cannot be successfully done without lots of help from teammates.
  • The smart drill sergeant creates a buddy system, pairing up the guy who trips over his own feet with the fellow who used to be in marching band.
  • For the budget presentation the introvert great at crunching numbers is paired with the extrovert who flunked calculus but has amazing public speaking skills.

Think how to design your teams, in other words, so that alone a person may flounder and flop. But by sharing and putting their talents together they strengthen their individual weaknesses and are unstoppable!

#2 All for One and One for All

When teams are fundamentally based on partnership you automatically eliminate many of the chronic problems that arise from self-promotion.

  • Nurture an attitude of all for one, where everyone comes together in support of individual team members. Encourage individuals to define themselves in terms of the group, too, with a “one for all” commitment to team goal facilitation.
  • Define productivity and goal achievement horizontally – not vertically. No longer will employees resort to stealing each other’s idea for self-promotion, because that is no longer a value-adding tactic.
  • Instead they know that to win accolades and potential career promotions they need to exhibit selfless teamwork and reliable partnership participation.

Win/Win agreements can also be written as contracts between colleagues working together on projects.

#3 Establish Ground Rules

No game has clear winners until you first agree to the rules, so lay those down from the start. That helps to clarify and manage expectations and avoid conflict.

  • What is each person’s specific role for the team’s mission? What resources will they get from the team to help them do their job?
  • Put in place horizontal accountability standards and metrics. The metrics tell the teamwork story, keeping everybody on the same page.
  • Spell out the ramifications for not being a team player. Apply the rules equally, and include yourself so that your team members don’t see you as above them.

Build teams around these natural win-win strategies and organic elements and the interpersonal relationships will flourish. Nobody will be the lone wolf, because the team working as a whole will always be greater (and more successful) than the sum of the individual parts! Cooperation will become contagious, inspiring creative and unselfish collaboration. Meanwhile they’ll give you credit for being the innovative leader who made their winning partnerships possible!


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

1-800-267-3245, info@illustraconsulting.com
This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.


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