Becoming the Best Team


When people come together to take on a challenge or accomplish a goal, they form a team. But when people who are willing to become their best selves come together, they forge a best team. A best team is one of the “five bests” (best self, best team, best partner, best investment, and best citizen) described in my newest book, Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership.

The journey that begins with becoming your best self continues as values-based individuals create a best team. Members of a best team are self-reflective, understand themselves, and embrace a sense of common purpose. They are committed to the overarching goals of the organization and understand how they contribute (as their best selves and as a best team) to the goal and objectives of the vales-based organization.

Definition_BestTeam

 

On best teams, everyone’s input is valued—even if there is disagreement. There is no benefit to giving in to someone who feels the need to have her way most of the time. Nor will a best team tolerate someone who is not being his best because he is more concerned with being right than discovering the right thing to do.

A critical component of the best team is a strong values-based team leader, who strives to be respected rather than worrying about being liked. The leader understands the critical importance of feedback. Giving open, honest, continuous, and transparent feedback is not simply a good thing to do; it is a moral responsibility to the best team and each of its members. People can only realize their potential when they understand their strengths and their weaknesses.

Best teams are critical at every stage of an organization. With startups, best teams of values-based individuals (who may be performing more than one function) are crucial at the launch of the enterprise and as it scales up in size. For more mature companies, best teams will help anchor values-based leadership. When a turnaround is necessary—correcting a culture that has devolved into dysfunction and in-fighting—the best strategy is to forge a best team across the company, with people who are able to collaborate, cooperate, and challenge each other to their highest levels of creativity and productivity.

One of the challenges of pulling together a best team is that even well-intentioned and hard-working people can focus too narrowly on their own tasks and activities. At times they cannot see how what they do relates to the greater whole of the organization, so they stay in their silos. They don’t see the forest because they get lost in the trees. Maybe they’ve seen a tree or two, but they don’t perceive any forest at all!

On a best team led by a values-based leader, every person sees the forest and understands his or her relationship to the clear, elevating goals of the organization. As each person’s view is expanded, a best team comes together with broader horizons and a deeper sense of purpose.

4 comments

  • Harry, I was just discussing teams and leadership over the weekend with the family related to being a leader on a sports team (e.g. soccer). We decided, as a family, that being a leader comes in many forms and is not just up to the coach. Being a good team member is critical to supporting a good team and can help you stand out as a leader within the team. To your message: valuing being a part of the team and also valuing the overall motivation and effort of the team is critical. Leaders often need team members to call out team members effort when they are “loafing” as well as support those who are struggling on the team. And, as it relates to the theme of your blog here – it is important that team members think about the whole forest and not just weather their own “tree” gets water, sun and good weather! Best!

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    • Thanks Dr. Morrison……well said, and as we have discussed, the earlier young people realize that leadership is not about positions and titles, but rather, is truly about one’s ability to influence and relate to other team members, the sooner they will be on their “leadership journey”!!

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  • Gerard (Ged) Wallace

    Well said, Harry. I have always believed that sustainable organisational success requires companies to have a “best Team” focus. In my view, it’s THE keystone, with the other “bests” being impacted by Team effectiveness.

    My next comments are pertaining to multinational enterprises. (Start-Ups are another matter!).
    It is crucial to align staff Team members at all levels with company goals, if the company is to approach anywhere near its planned ambitions.
    As you point out, Harry, a major challenge to best team is an individual’s failure to appreciate how their efforts can positively impact the company goals. What chance does, say, a sales manager in a country distant to HQ have to clearly understand his/her real contribution to overall goal achievement?

    The solution is to have Leaders in place across (& within) all geographies who can “translate” the goals to reflect local geographic culture, who live the values common throughout the company & who build the levels of Leadership throughout their area of responsibility. Individuals look to their immediate superiors for goal-setting & reinforcement of their contribution.
    My experience has been that describing the “greater good” behind corporate goals, AND setting clear, consistent expectation around leader-development & transparency throughout countries delivered well-aligned, participative Team members, who “owned” the goals. So ensuring universal clarity about the “greater good” (or common purpose) is the first thing. Tracking progress down to the Team members is the next requirement.

    Slightly offline comment: Most externally-regulated companies train ALL their folk in Quality Systems, Quality management, Quality etc etc. Globally, every person is expected to understand the fundamentals, as one weak link can really hurt a company. However, I do not get the sense that companies give even a fraction of this effort to ensuring their corporate goals are personalized to each Team member. Maybe some interesting parallels…….?????

    Anyway, the focus on Leaders-developing-Leaders, the communication of global goals into local efforts & tracking progress in a transparent way are the cement to set that organisational keystone; best Team.
    And (fortunately!), once kicked off, there is no going back.
    Thanks for stirring the thoughts up, Harry.

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    • Thanks Ged! I appreciate your comments. Great organizations make sure EVERY member of the team, regardless of their level or location, understands the global goals and how what they do impacts the global goals!!! Regards, Harry

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