One of the greatest accomplishments for any leader is to build a high-performing team. A team that multiplies the ability of the individual members by working together is a high-performing team. In my career, I’ve had the great opportunity to build two teams from the ground up. I’ve also inherited pre-existing teams. In all cases, my goal has been to have my teams achieve more than they thought possible. Sometimes, I’ve succeeded and other times I’ve missed the mark.
My experience has shown that there are two things leaders can do to create an environment for a team to become high-performing – ensure you have a balance of work styles on the team and be transparent.
The easiest way to ensure that you have a balance of work styles is to use one of the many work styles instruments. I’ve always been a fan of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), but I have found that it can be complex to understand and put into practice in the workplace. Over the past few years, I’ve used the DISC Assessment to help me understand the styles of my team. You don’t necessarily need a formal assessment to help you do this, but it does make it easier. As managers, it is easy to hire in your own likeness, which creates great team harmony, but leaves your team with many flat spots. You need to ensure that you have a mix of “big picture” thinkers and detail-oriented executors. You need to balance your data-driven decision makers with your quick-to-act personalities. You need to have just as many people who prefer behind the scenes work as you those who love the spotlight. When interviewing for your team, you must take the time to understand each individual’s work style and note if that style will help fill a gap on your team. My best teams have been very balanced and everyone understands each other’s style. When the behind the scenes people need to have their idea marketed, they enlist the help of a spotlight seeker who is more comfortable in that space. When a “big picture” thinker comes up with 10 ideas in one meeting, the detail-oriented members of the team help pull them back to reality and select the idea(s) that have the highest likelihood of success. When key decisions need to be made, the mix of quick-to-act personalities and individuals who rely on data for decisions has almost always resulted in the best possible decisions.
The second key to a high performing team is transparency on the part of the leader. I have found that when you actively share reasoning behind decisions, give your team insight into why senior leadership is taking specific actions, and trust them with “confidential” information, you build great loyalty and trust. It is in everyone’s nature to understand why and how decisions are made. An even better transparent move is to bring the team into discussions about key decisions. Even if their recommendations are taken, they will feel like they have had a part in the process. In addition, I have found it advantageous to be transparent about myself and allow my team to get to know me personally. Everyone who works on my current team knows my love of wine, travel, running and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have met my significant other and my dogs. With this approach, I’ve always been able to find a connection with each individual team member. When individuals feel loyalty to the team, it is easy for them to put in extra effort to achieve the goals. When they feel trusted, they are often willing to take calculated risks that can greatly improve team performance.
So, if you want to improve the performance of your team, ensure that you have a balance of work styles and be transparent.
- Discover Your Personality Type – Myers Briggs types (annapaolausai.com)