July 1, 2009 Chris Fuller

Team Health always starts with the Team’s Leadership, pt2

Yesterday we started the conversation about the Leader looking at himself or herself first, when it comes to analyzing team performance. Knowing that the team is usually a reflection of the Leader can be both sobering and affirming. Some additional questions to ask yourself about any potential negative or limiting effects that could be translating into less than desirable results are:

Is my team lacking direction? For a team to run at top speed, they will need clarity. Most of us would be, completely, unwilling to run at full speed while in total darkness and our teams are no exceptions. At times, stopping the team, increasing clarity, and establishing direction can tremendously boost speed and performance.

Have I over-driven my team? Even high performing teams are going to need a break. Pushing your team past the point of exhaustion too often can result in irreversible damage to physical stamina and mental focus. Knowing the right time to take a break is a mixture of intimately knowing both the team and the trail.

Knowing the team will clue you into them. Are they exhausted or just bored? Are they distracted? Does something have them spooked? Knowing the team will keep you from misinterpreting their energy or mental state.

Knowing the trail / terrain gives you valuable insight into where to push through and where to stop and rest. For instance, you may want to ask your team to continue on through a known difficult section before resting – that way when they are rested and fresh – they can run the next (easier) section with more energy and faster performance times. Again, knowing your team – gives you the insight to know if they prefer to push on through this area or prefer to be fresh and which choice will maximize productivity.

Is the sled overly burdensome? A team carrying twice the weight is unlikely to be the fastest. Saddle your team with a high degree of bureaucracy, regulation, emotional baggage, or wearisome corporate policies and watch the life drain from them. One of our greatest gifts that we can give to the team is to let them run with as little restriction as possible. The vast majority of players on the team want to run, they want to do the right thing and achieve the right results. Continuing to throw hurdles and obstacles in front of them will make the race more like a steeplechase than trail race! Look for ways to get out of your people’s way and let them run!!!

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly:

Is the Team’s attitude a reflection of mine? There is a very pointed dialog in the movie Remember the Titans, when one of the football players pushes back on the captain by saying, “Attitude reflects Leadership, Captain.

As leaders, our attitude and even our body language can transmit to the team. The “vibe” they get from us can either be contagious (if it’s good) or infectious (if it’s bad). Our team is, almost always, a reflection of our stress level, our relational interaction, and our attitude. Nothing can poison the team’s will to run like a leader with a poor attitude or negative mind set.

As I’ve said before, none of our talks on how to make the team’s performance better is meant to knock you down or depress you. My heart is to help call some of these things to your attention – so that you become response-able. Your team’s performance is within your realm to inspire and improve! Goodness knows, I’ve not always been as good of a leader as I am today – and there are days that I still drop the ball for my team – but that’s leadership – we are human – we’re not going to get it right every time.

That’s why, “Great Leader’s strive for Excellence, not Perfection!”

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