Geoffrey James of Inc. was kind enough to pass on some words of wisdom from Phil Geldart, author of In Your Hands, the Behaviors of a World Class Leader, about some guiding principles behind putting together an effective team. In honor of the upcoming Summer Olympics, let's put Geldart's tips into sports lingo.
- An exceptional team needs a leader. U.S. athletes come from all over the country; heck, Danell Leyva, member of the United States men's gymnastics squad, was born in Cuba. With all those different backgrounds, team members need one individual to whom they can look for guidance and direction. Even though men's gymnastics head coach Kevin Mazeika has a number of assistant coaches backing him up, he's the go-to guy for this team.
- Quantify the teams' goals. It's great to start out with a "Let's do our best" kind of attitude, but what you really need is solid, quantifiable goals. Sure, Michael Phelps probably has some sort of "swim hard, swim fast" mantra, but when it comes down to it, I'd bet his ultimate goal is to win all seven of his events in London.
- Identify each person's role on the team. Lebron James is one of Team USA's forwards. Kevin Durant is a guard. I don't actually know much about basketball, but my guess is they wouldn't be nearly as good if they swapped positions. Know your role and how it fits into the team's goals.
- Share resources. This can be literal as well as figurative. You have to share your time on the table tennis equipment so your teammates can get their practice time in too (yes, table tennis is an Olympic sport). Figuratively speaking though, teammates also have to share their enthusiasm and suggestions in order to better the entire team. Women's gymastics athletes may be competing against each other, but they're always the ones you see cheering for their teammates from the sidelines.
- Communicate early and often. Make sure all your team members are on the same page as to what is expected of them. Do you think its easy getting a bunch of sixteen year old athletes in to practice at 5am? Probably not, but if you drill it into their heads enough times, hopefully they'll get the picture and get out of bed.
- Commit fully. Expect 100% commitment from your team. This doesn't mean they can't have personal lives or even product endorsements, but it does mean they need to focus completely on the task at hand when they're in practice.
- Don't allow one person to overshadow the team. Lance Armstrong may be one of the best known cyclists in the world, but a US win shouldn't be contributed solely to him. Big egos may be pretty common in the sports world, but they really don't have a place on a high-functioning team.
Teams are hugely important in business as well as in athletics. Make sure your teams are working together to produce great results by surveying them to find out where they see weak spots.
What do you think about these teambuilding tips? Got any of your own to add? How about the Olympics, what teams are you looking forward to watching?