Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leadership Team Dynamics

We strive, as leaders, to surround ourselves with the right people – people who challenge us to be our best, people that we can equally challenge to be their best, and when it all comes together in perfect harmony, we have a great leadership team – a team that can consistently achieve exceptional results.

If I was to ask 100 people what they think makes for a strong and successful team, I would likely get 100 different responses, with some common themes or overlap in some instances, but it is safe to say, everyone has their own opinion, which I would suggest is largely based on their individual personality traits and the kinds of people that they enjoy working with.  Fair enough.

While I would not try to prescribe the “right” team dynamics that should be present in every leadership team, I would like to suggest two things worthy of your consideration in this regard.

First, make the effort to actually know what the various traits or attributes are that each of your leadership team members possesses, and then share them openly with each other for the benefit of the team.  Whether it’s Myers Briggs, establishing your “colours,” or other similar “tests” that you and your team members can cost-effectively take to establish what makes you and them tick, it is a worthwhile exercise in my opinion.   

Understanding the kind of person that you are, the kind of people that you like to work with, what motivates you and what motivates your team members, and ultimately your teams’ dynamics, is access to creating a high performing team.

Sharing these results, recognizing and celebrating the differences among your team members – who excels in a particular area, and who does not, can create a powerful format for creating prolonged successful results.  When team members come to realize that they are not expected to be experts in everything, and that they can rely on their team members to offset their shortcomings in certain areas, as they can count equally on them in areas where they may be lacking, amazing things are possible, driven by the strength and the vulnerability of the team.  

Second, a certain amount of conflict is good.

I have come into situations before and asked the question; “how does everyone on the leadership team get along?”  And when someone tells me as a result that everyone always gets along famously, no disagreements, no debates or arguments, my radar goes off.  Not that I think that the leadership team should be at each other’s throats, but I do think that if the team is too worried about getting along, too worried about rocking the boat or offending a team member by challenging an idea or an observation, then that team is limited in their ability to maximize on their effectiveness as a team.

As it often is in our business, it’s about balance.  It’s about being comfortable to respectfully challenge the GM when he presents a new idea, and vice versa.  It’s about creating the best outcomes possible, by openly looking at things from all sides and embracing the differences in our team members, which is likely why we hired them in the first place.  It’s about openly recognizing that we are better, more effective, more unified, when we work as a team with a common goal or objective in mind.

However, there must also be agreement in this open environment that while there is an opportunity for everyone to have an opinion on the subject, and while everyone may not be in agreement, once the decision is made, everyone on the team must leave their differences in that room and put on a unified front.  It is imperative that the team is seen to be unified in their commitment to each other, and to the principles and values that are the very foundation of the property.  Unconditional support.

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