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Newsletter

Teams as the Key to
Sustainable Growth

May 2024
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Keep tightening up the Game Plan! After diving into the roles of CEO as a Coach and Manager as a Team Captain in our previous editions, we are turning the spotlight now onto the everyday MVPs: Teams!

Pulling from our four learning pillars of 30+ years of empirical data, neuroscience and psychology, organizational and social science, and timeless wisdom, we have never been more clear that people drive performance. I continuously go back to what Peter Drucker said:

“The yield from the human resource really determines the organization's performance.”

It is our role as leaders to recognize the value of and prioritize the human element, and cultivate an environment where individuals feel valued and motivated to bring their best each day.

And as psychology and neuroscience tells us - humans are wired to crave belonging, to yearn for a place in something greater than ourselves. It is in our DNA, this innate desire to be part of something great. And what better embodiment of that than a high-performing small team?

Think about the best team you have ever been on. What did it feel like? What made that team so special?

For me, I go back to my athletic days on the Johns Hopkins University Men’s Lacrosse team and the genesis of my lifelong research on leadership performance and teams - and it felt like there was magic in the air with everyone firing on all cylinders and winning as a team. Collaboration was seamless, there was a high level of trust, ideas flowed freely, and every member felt valued and supported. It is not just about achieving goals and winning; it is about doing so in a way that leaves everyone feeling fulfilled and empowered. My reflections on the athletic field are not dissimilar from the professional successes with great teams as well.  And, yet, there were also times when our incredibly talented team did not perform, did not meet objectives and we were out of sync.  Those moments are also ripe for inspection and understanding for your team's development. It's imperative to explore both sides of the experience.

 

So, what sets exceptional teams apart? A worthy reference here are the 5 Key Elements of High-Performing Teams from Google’s Project Aristotle: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact. In today’s modern workplace, these have never been more true. The pace of change today often outstrips the capabilities of any lone individual, it is the collective brilliance of teams that holds the key to success. The Steer team would include trust and positive relational energy (defined as the energy that uplifts, affirms and inspires others) to that list. By prioritizing these elements, we can help build stronger and more effective teams that drive organizational success and create a culture of permanent beta (always learning, never done).

I am going to delve into THREE things you can do today to establish the foundation for your teams to thrive. In our experience working with thousands of leaders and managers, the best ones lead with care, clarity, and connection. By focusing on these three things you will cultivate an environment that empowers your teams to reach new heights of performance and unlock their full potential.

1. CARE about your people

Research abounds revealing that top-performing teams garner significantly more recognition. This underscores the crucial link between feeling valued and productivity; when employees feel appreciated and supported, their willingness to go above and beyond increases, leading to heightened discretionary effort.

Creating a culture of care can show up in many different ways and will help foster trust and loyalty within the team. Ensure programs and resources are in place to support the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the team.

2. Provide CLARITY on what is most important

Know the game to win the game! Even the most creative and dynamic teams need clarity. Clarity is paramount - clarity on the mission, strategy, objectives, goals, roles and responsibilities, ways to collaborate, etc. Set your teams up for success by removing any ambiguity and ensure teams understand how their role supports the organization’s strategic priorities. Avoid air gaps!

Check out this quick clip from our recent podcast on the importance of clarity and structure.

 

3. Help foster genuine CONNECTIONS

Strong and genuine interpersonal team connections are paramount for high performance. As a leader, you play a pivotal role in cultivating an environment where trust and camaraderie flourish and everyone feels they belong and are supported. Encourage open dialogue and provide opportunities for team members to interact both formally and informally. This will help the team embody a culture of 'I've got your back'.

Creating an environment where teams thrive isn't a one-time task but an ongoing journey. By leading with care, clarity, and connection, you will lay a solid foundation for your teams to excel not just today but in the ever-evolving future. Let's stay humble, agile, curious, and always eager to learn and grow.

For more content on teams, check out our recent conversation with Performance Psychologist Dr. Hunt.

 

To Permanent Beta,

Chris

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