July 1, 2009 Chris Fuller

Team Health always starts with the Team’s Leadership

If, as my mentor John C Maxwell quotes, “Everything rises and falls on Leadership” then I have to accept that wherever the team’s health is today can be attributed to leadership decisions of the past and their health tomorrow rests on the leadership decisions of today. So my first question when attempting to diagnose the reason behind a team’s health (or performance) issue is, “Am I the problem?”

We’ll mush through part one of the questions that I take in the discovery process today and cover the second part tomorrow:

Is there something that my team has needed that I have not provided?

This can be detailed into many different sub-categories such as financial provision, training, empowerment, opportunity to provide feedback, and even to my interpersonal responsibilities of affirmation and connectivity. So I walk down more detailed questions:

Have I built my team strategically? Teams that are built with purpose and players that are placed with purpose (with the insight of interpersonal team dynamics) are much less likely to fight ‘Team Health’ issues. Creating a team full of superstar, individual performers may prove to be no match for a good, cohesive team. The superstars may spend so much time fighting each other or fighting for the limelight that they fail to remember the mission and the PURPOSE behind the race.

Have I trained my team for the journey? A rag-tag, undisciplined, untrained team usually only wins in fairytales and children’s movies. Sled Dog teams are trained canine athletes – that are trained just like any other top tier athlete in the world. If they have not been trained for the situation – we cannot expect them to perform at the professional level. One of my favorite sayings is, “Amateurs practice until they get it right, professional practice until they can’t get it wrong!”

Have I invested the time to create team synergy and buy-in? We can’t, always, operate a team that we have a long and purposeful relationship with but, over a period of time, we can’t neglect the immensely important factor of relationship and buy-in. When they buy-in to you and when they buy into each other – they buy into the race and will run with greater purpose, greater commitment. We’ll unpack more on Buy-in in a latter blog.

Have I empowered my team? Nothing frustrates and de-motivates a team of highly trained, highly capable athletes more than an insecure leader that either tight-reigns the team or won’t set them free to run with the liberating communiqué of, “Hike!”

Have I resourced my team? The team is going to need to eat – to feed on the right fuel physically, mentally, emotionally and they are going to need the right equipment. Malnourished dogs can’t run – and it they don’t have the right footwear or outerwear they are going to suffer injury or hypothermia and the race will be over!

Questions can be painful – but they can also be insightful and beneficial to leading us to a higher level of performance and achievement!

Here’s to team health – that starts with looking at us, as leaders, first!

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