The Team-Building Process in 6 Steps

Lead Where You’re Strong, Team Where You’re Weak

Maybe you think, or even know, that there is a certain way you are expected to act, so you put on a persona each day you walk into the office.

You want to be the real you, but you’re so busy figuring out the right thing to say that you forget the best thing to do—be real and authentic to who you are. 

Inauthenticity drains your energy and renders you ineffective. 

Even more importantly, if you’re not comfortable with and can’t get along with you, how in the world are you going to get along with anybody else? 

Everyone is wired for greatness, but everyone is not wired for greatness in the same areas. 

It’s a key life principle, not just a business one. That’s why I encourage leaders to have their people use self-assessment tools so everyone gains an awareness who he or she is and best to work together. 

For example, if you are a blunt, get-it-done person, you may be great in crisis management, but not so great where the situation calls for empathy and patience such as mobilizing the day-to-day habits that create a profitable workplace. 

That doesn’t mean you’re inferior or defective. That doesn’t mean you’re weak, but you’re weak in that role. Continue reading and check here for tips on building a great team.

Team-Building Requires Interconnection—Instead of Shame

Weakness is more about role-fit than anything else. And finding yourself in a role that doesn’t leverage our natural strengths is stressful.  

We do need to learn to stretch, grow, and adapt. But if we are spending most of our time and energy out of our strength zones, we’ll run into trouble and wear out everyone around us. 

Genius and flaws exist in each of us, and neither one has to diminish the other. If you know where your genius lies, but struggle in one particular role, you can create a multifaceted team. It’s important to foster an environment where employees feel valued and respected for their unique characteristics safeguarded by law in the workplace.

Lead where you’re strong, team where you’re weak. Don’t have someone to team with? Lead where you’re strong and put a system where you’re weak!

Thankfully the process to “teaming” up your weak areas is straightforward. 

In fact, the hardest part is mustering the honest, authentic courage to reach out for help and collaboration.


Teaming Process: 

  • Recognize Areas of Weakness
  • Ask For Guidance  
  • Hire the Strengths You Lack 
  • Learn from Your New Team Member 
  • Grow Strength as a Team 
  • Move on to help others with similar problems 

It’s time to admit you can’t do it all. And you’re not expected to!

What is expected of you is to realize that truth. 

I help leaders all the time who say, I can’t admit weakness to my team or tell them what I’m not good at. 

In a sense, the joke is on them, because their team members already know their weaknesses.  

Think about it. How hard would it be for you to rattle off the top five things your leader doesn’t do well? Pretty easy, right? 

So why would you assume that your direct reports can’t do the same? You aren’t hiding your weaknesses from them when you won’t admit them. 

They know your weaknesses better than you do. That’s why you need to be authentic. 

You’re not fooling anyone.

Team Building Begins With Humility

It takes humility to admit, “I am not amazing at this, so I should partner with someone who is.”  Humility multiplies strength. 

Pride isolates people and breaks down teams. 

A humble leader, rather than trying to do it all, functions like an air traffic controller who scans the radar and calls certain team members to move depending on the strengths needed in any particular situation. 

If inauthenticity has created a rift between you and your team, you’re missing out on their support to cover your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. 

Remember: leaders are to achieve results with—and through— their teams.


What the Iditarod Race Teaches about Getting Things Done

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The R.A.C.E. Method for Leaders to Execute with Excellence

After mushing with huskies in Alaska as part of the Iditarod race experience, I developed The R.A.C.E. Method™ to help leaders cross the finish line consistently and achieve remarkable results.  

If you’re about to take a leadership position, currently lead a team, or you simply aspire to lead the pack one day, take these skills with you every step of the way.

The reality is this: To reach your destination, you have to prepare for the trail!

RACE-ready leaders rise to the top because they’ve put thought and strategy into their team-leading. That’s why this proven process based on Iditarod success can empower you to achieve exponential results.

Ready: Prepare Before You Set Out

The R stands for Ready.

Before any veteran musher takes to the trail, he or she has to prepare—or risk certain death on the trail. A pre-race groundwork of strategy, expectation, and research will make or break success across 1,000 miles of wilderness.

Too many leaders tend to value action over planning, and businesses often unofficially adopt the motto, “Fire, Ready, Aim.”

But to produce—or compete—at the highest level, you have to first be Ready.

No one can cover every contingency, but a Ready leader prepares for the mission ahead by asking pointed questions like:

  • What’s our vision?
  • How will we run the race?
  • How far will we go before we rest?
  • What does my team look like? What should it look like?

RACE-ready leaders figure out where their teams excel. Are they sprinters or long-distance runners? Do we have the right balance of talent and endurance?

Ready leaders have done the research on competition. What advancements do others have that we need to learn? How do the top teams prepare?  

The Ready leader knows these things—not to be arrogant—but because he or she knows that only by understanding the trail, the mission, the team, and the sled will they be ready for the obstacles ahead. If the leader isn’t prepared, then no one truly is.

And this just scratches the surface of all that goes into being RACE-ready, so keep asking questions. Keep planning. Keep making your team the best it can be.

Action: Keep It Simple

The A stands for Action. The best race strategy, if left in the lodge and not implemented, is always trumped by a marginal strategy implemented to the fullest.

Remember that your behavior determines your team’s success. When the leader understands the timing, then the team understands the execution, and they can be coached to the highest level of performance.

Make sure everyone on the team knows their roles, responsibilities, and actionables, then keep it simple. To execute successfully, you will need both Action and simplicity.  

Without Action, you’ve got a nice idea and nothing else. Without simplicity, you’ll never move out of the kennel because no one will understand what to do.

Racing dogs are happiest when they have a clear job to do. They need a job. Don’t try to pull the sled by yourself and let the rest follow along. It’s dogs before sled, not sled before dogs.

Checkpoint: Break It Down

The C stands for Checkpoint.

If you never stop to assess your progress, you can’t be sure you are on course. There are 26 checkpoints in the Iditarod race. All serve a purpose—and mushers are thankful for each one. There’s no way they could wrap their minds around a journey of 1,100 miles all at once.

It helps to break the race down into segment runs. That’s something even the dogs know is achievable. Each segment’s terrain is different. Each piece of the journey stands on its own.

Both in the Iditarod race and in leadership, checkpoints become critical. They help you assess where you are, determine if it’s where you should be, and provide opportunities to make micro-adjustments before you get too far off track. Checkpoints can be:

  • A deadline
  • A group meeting
  • A scheduled assessment of goals
  • A 1-on-1 check-in with a mentor or team member
  • Even a planned moment to rest

At all your Checkpoints, take the time to evaluate your experience over that terrain. If things went well, amazing! Be sure to celebrate.

If things didn’t go so well, record the lessons learned so that you can run the race better next time.

Evolve: Never Stand Still

Finally, the E stands for Evolve. If you fail to evolve, if you fail to change, if you fail to adapt, you will die. It happens in nature, in careers, and out on the trail.

Evolving is a matter of continuous improvement where you make field adjustments to people and processes so you stay on track and always get better.

  1. List everything you could have done better. What is in your power to improve? How can you make the corrections now and apply them to the process before the next race?
  2. List everything that worked well. How can you systemize these steps to make them repeatable and your next project more efficient?\
  3. What lessons can you learn from the execution of your plan and how can you implement them going forward?

The freeing part is that Evolving leaders are never stuck doing the same old things, repeating the same “average” results.

If you’re not satisfied with the way your team is running; if your goals feel overwhelming—or not “whelming” enough—you can change that!

Just look at the information you learned at the Checkpoints and your evaluated experiences, and put it to use in your daily running.

Are You Ready to R.A.C.E.?

No one becomes RACE-ready overnight. But just like in sledding, a team-leading victory isn’t all about speed. You need preparation and endurance.

So before your next adventure, remember the wisdom from Alaska’s mushers:

  • Get Ready for the trail by asking questions.
  • Take Action—but keep it simple.
  • Remember to Check your progress regularly.
  • And always be down to Evolve the plan.

It’s an exciting process, one that just might change your team in ways you never expected

In fact, if you’d like to learn more about The R.A.C.E. Method™, how to apply it in your organization, or engage other leadership and training resources, just send me a message using the form below and we’ll start a conversation.

Leadership Truths



As we close down 2015 and move into 2016, I sat back and reflected on some of my journey and the privilege I have to help others become stronger leaders. I’ve shared below a compilation of some of my favorite Leadership Truths. Take a look and choose your top 5 where you believe that by living that truth you can raise your own bar in the new year.  Commit to a little self-reflection and resolve to make 2016 a year to focus on cultivating your own personal leadership legacy and ensuring the influence you have on your team is always positive.

1.      Maturity is a choice not an age. 2.      As a leader, be contagious, not infectious.
3.      Leading a team is a different skill set than    accomplishing great individual feats. 4.      Create an organization that makes more leaders than it breaks.
5.      Lead where you’re strong. Team where you’re weak. 6.      Business and life are marathons. We have to strategically pace ourselves in order to finish.
7.      Great leaders are concerned about their positive influence, their legacy. 8.      Strategic placement of team members produces the best results.
9.      Self-awareness helps in building the right team for you. 10.   It’s your team.  You cannot complain about what you permit.
11.   When you need a little more pull from your team, try letting them chase a team just a little faster or better than themselves. 12.   Amateurs practice until they get it right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.
13.   Great leaders take time to get to know their team, really know them. 14.   Consider the strengths of the team as a component of strategy.
15.   Communicate in their language, not yours. 16.   Unleash the power of the team.
17.   You don’t have to flood your team with words to get them to action.  Be clear.  Be concise.  Be direct. 18.   Start ugly.  If you’re not willing to start ugly, you’re never going to start.  Learn.  Grow.  Make it pretty next time.
19.   Mentors know to put us in charge of teams that match our abilities. 20.   I can’t lead the team I want.  I have to lead the team I have.
21.   Frustration is a function of expectation. 22.   Lead people; manage things.
23.   If you’re a leader and not learning every day, you’re likely not a leader for long. 24.   Don’t ask for more sweat equity than you give.
25.   People join companies; people quit people. Be someone people want to stay with. 26.   Sometimes you have to drop or reassign a team member if it’s hurting the rest of the team.
27.   Experience it; don’t just witness it. 28.   Trust is the currency of leadership.
29.   Leading a team to victory is often the result of conquering or leading one’s self first. 30.   The mirror is rarely pleasant, but it’s almost always honest.
31.   Problems rarely work themselves out. 32.   As a leader, what you allow you endorse.
33.   The trail we carve as leaders profoundly affects the next generation. 34.   Nobody wants to be managed; people want to be inspired.
35.   Every leader gets the team they deserve, eventually. The team you inherited is not your fault. The team you have a year from now is. 36.   How you treat those on the inside is an indicator of how they will treat those who come from the outside.
37.   Don’t transfer emotional baggage to your team.  If you need to unload, talk to another leader 38.   For that extra motivation, learn your team individually and incentivize accordingly.
39.   Hire for values; train for skills. 40.   Find awesome, and copy it.


Your son has what it takes to be a great leader…

Today I will see my second son in less than a year graduate from a military basic training. I can tell you from experience that having a child in combat is not easy AND I can tell you the graduation ceremonies like the one I’ll attend today are incredible moments of pride. The trainings, themselves, are watershed moments where each has come face to face with themselves and succeeded. It is a forever flag planted into the ground that they will look back on with pride and an affirming sense of accomplishment.

Yesterday, I went to Family Day at MCRD. I had heard Zach talk about being Platoon Leader. Yesterday I saw his leadership and accomplishment in action. (Some of you have, already, met Zach from the times when he has traveled with me and worked the audio/video from the back of the room)

All of his leaders said similar things… “great leader”, “great example for his platoon”, “we’ve been begging for a leader like Zach the last few series”. At 17 he was named the Series Honor Man and was only a point or a few points from being named the Company Honor Man out of a group of close to 400 new Marines. They were wonderful moments and confirmations of what I already knew as a proud dad.

Having said that, today’s blog was on my mind and knowing that my question of the day was asking you what makes a great leader to you? Have you taken the time this week to start making the list and recording on paper the type of leader that you aspire to be?

Friday’s blog is about application and making sure we take the thoughts of the week and transfer them into action. Writing down the characteristic and competencies that you aspire to is mapping out your trail and ultimately defining your “Burled Arch”.

Help me inspire the rest of this community by posting some of your thoughts.

In Honor of the day, can I get an ‘Oor-rah!’?

Does your Husky ever look like a Chihuahua?

When I talk about defining yourself and defining you as a leader that can become a difficult thought to make those decisions and then live them out. What if I don’t live up to my standard? Defining sounds so… permanent.

This morning, I was thinking about leadership (and life, really) and it hit me that I was, truly, thankful for a new day today. A new day symbolizes so much – a fresh start, a chance to start over, an opportunity to shape the definition of myself and my leadership, an opportunity to live closer to my desired actions than I may have yesterday.

For years, I spoke on personal change and that life was more like a moving picture than a snap shot. Doesn’t it make you grateful that someone doesn’t step into your life or business and take a photograph of you and that one photograph forever defines you?

It’s the same with mushing, business, and life. Each day brings us a fresh opportunity to define – or re-define ourselves, our day, and our future.

Yesterday, I talked about Paul Gebhardt becoming disoriented and doubling back to the previous checkpoint. Once he regained his bearings, he turned back around and claimed his 3rd top 10 finish. To me that is great news for all of us on our leadership journey!

We set the goal – the vision of where we want to end up as a leader – that becomes our standard, our “Burled Arch”. (Burled Arch is the name of the finish line in Nome) We race toward it – but if we get turned around or WHEN something happens along our leadership trail – we have the mindset that we can get up, dust our leadership off and keep moving toward the destination.

If I told you that I was going to give you an Alaskan Husky as a present and, then, handed you a Chihuahua – you would be a bit confused because the reality wasn’t matching the definition. You would be looking for something that more closely resembled that definition, wouldn’t you? So we define our leadership goal our “Burled Arch” and the days WHEN our leadership looked more like a Chihuahua than a Husky – we just understand that there is an ongoing process, today is a new day and we have an opportunity to live something that more closely resembles our desired definition.

Continue today to work on your definition of yourself as a person and as a leader. Take time to work on the desired ‘definition’ for life and business. On the days when it doesn’t quite match up – it’s OK – we get a fresh trail today – and a brand new one tomorrow.

Happy trails!