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Great Teams Share More Than A Destination


The following is a guest piece by author Sean Glaze.

If you’re like most team leaders, you go into your team’s season or project or quarterly sales period with a goal.

And if you’re like most leaders, you find yourself frustrated at some point in that process because you struggle to get the buy-in or create the cohesiveness and commitment that would inspire your team to meet the goals that were set.

Wearing the same uniform – or working in the same office – doesn’t make your group a team.

Goals are important – but setting a goal, like writing a book, is only part of the recipe. It’s like making your favorite chocolate chip cookies. Flour is important – but you need more than just that.

As a basketball coach, I learned that teams must share a destination – they need to agree on a compelling common goal – but teams need to share more than that to complete the recipe for success.

Just as chocolate chip cookies require adding sugar and butter and eggs and chocolate chips to the flour, great team leaders understand that there is more to building a great team than setting a goal.

In my new book, “Rapid Teamwork“, I share the five essential steps to transform any group into a great team – and goals are an important first step . . .

If your people don’t know why they are together, they will not do much while they are together!

So what are the two parts to creating a compelling common goal?

1. You will want to involve your team in identifying the “phrase that pays”
One word is not a goal. You want to have a sentence – a memorable and inspiring phrase – that defines what you and they are trying to accomplish. Keep it simple, but clear.

Teamwork isn’t as clear as you might think. One word can be misunderstood. Instead of a one-word goal, think of a sentence that describes specifically what you want your people to accomplish.

And expect that concise and simple may take effort, but it is much more effective than something long or complex. An academic-sounding vision statement that will go in a notebook and sits on somebody’s shelf won’t be adequate to get your people to jump out of bed each morning . . .

You want something that stirs emotions and gives them a challenging and worthwhile purpose.

One famous goal statement from the eighties was Pepsi’s “Beat Coke.” Southwest Airlines’ sought to “Become THE low-fare airline” in the nineties.

Maybe yours will be more like GE’s “We bring good things to life” or Disney’s “We make people happy”, but your goal statement is the core, concise, defining purpose that will be used to explain the reasoning for everything done in your organization.

2. Once you have that goal, you will need to identify the process steps
Make a list of the daily or weekly activities that each person will need to focus on so they see a clear path between their actions and the eventual imminent accomplishment of that goal.

Don’t leave the goal up in the air at 20,000 feet of vagueness . . .

Land the plane – make it real for your people – by clearly defining and delegating the activities that will bring them to their destination.

But like talent, a goal is essential . . . but never sufficient!

And while your goal is vital, teams need to share more. Your people need to create a stronger connection with each other to make the journey more enjoyable and effective.

John Maxwell has said, famously, that “leadership is influence”.

In the same way, as a teamwork speaker, I have found that ‘team building is relationships’.

One of the most significant changes in my coaching philosophy came after I decided to change my focus from purely strategic and skills based interactions to actually designing experiences and activities where our athletes could bond and build relationships.

We had meals together . . .  we did volunteer work together . . . and as a coaching staff we saw a tremendous difference in the on-court performance of those players.

Unfortunately, many leaders neglect to give attention to personal connections and appreciating personality types and the desires and challenges that shape their team’s beliefs and behaviors.

For teams to interact in a profitable way, people need the opportunity and encouragement to build bridges of relationships that are strong enough to bear the weight of adversity or difficult conversations and disagreements.

The more your people know that their teammates care about and respect them, the more willing they will be to accept feedback and acknowledge that it is okay to have constructive conflict.

In addition to goals, teams need relationships, and clear expectations – ingredients that are vital to creating a culture of commitment and performance.

If you are a team leader who would like a simple and clear process for creating a strong team culture, I encourage you to grab a copy of my newest book, “Rapid Teamwork“.

When you realize that the goal is only part of the recipe, you make reaching the goal far more likely. Just as great cookies require more than one ingredient, great teams share more than just a destination . . .

Sean Glaze is team building speaker, facilitator, and author of “The Unexpected Leader” and “Sustaining Results”. As a successful basketball coach and educator for over 20 years, Sean gained valuable insights into how to develop winning teams, something that forms the basis of his new book “Rapid Teamwork”. To learn more about Sean and his work, visit his website Great Results Teambuilding.

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