What does it take to create and build a high performing ‘dream team’? How would you know one, if you had one?
Characteristics might include being focussed yet flexible, determined yet sensitive, inspired and committed, courageous yet caring… and uplifting to work with?
When I talk to some business leaders about creating their own ‘dream team’, to deliver truly outstanding and amazing results, in creative and inspiring ways, some peoples responses are quite jaded and cynical…
• ‘you know, our business isn’t like that…’
• ‘yeah right, get real!’
• ‘what have you been smoking?’
• or even “Look! the plane, boss!” from the popular 70‘s TV show, Fantasy Island…
Whilst I’m showing my years with that last dated example, it seems true, that if you have never been part of a ‘high performing dream team’ previously, then it sounds as ridiculous as saying ‘the world is round and not flat’ a couple of hundred years ago.
If you have not been led by an inspiring leader before, then where do you draw your leadership and followership beliefs from?
Books? lectures, concrete experiences?
Situation Normal – Your ‘Business as Usual?’
We all have our own internal models of the world, usually informed and created from our own personal experiences, learnings, successes and perceived limitations.
Here are some questions to help you flesh out your own internal landscape in this regard…
- Where does your ‘business as usual’ paradigm come from?
- What is your ‘normal’ team-working and leadership experience like?
- Have you ever been part of an inspirational team effort, with inspirational leadership? What made it so great for you and others?
- What do you accept as normal practice and typical within your industry?
- Why do we often put up with poor quality team-working practices and cultures, when the performance of companies and organisations relies on these core capabilities?
Carefully Choosing Role Models?
I was fortunate enough to have several bosses previously, who were inspirational in different ways.
One of these was highly intellectual and a well rounded general manager, who would leap into action, often before the end of the conversation, by starting to dial the number of the person or department being discussed.
He taught me many things including the difference between proactivity and impetuousness.
Another boss was short, sharp and focussed, didn’t suffer fools gladly, but underneath cared deeply for the wellbeing and development of his team members. He was quick thinking and fast acting, but also considerate of the bigger picture.
He taught me about focus and discernment around the key issues to pursue.
And another great boss deeply cared for his people and the whole workforce, at a time when such things were seen as soft and woolly. He got great results, because his team loved working ‘with’ and not ‘for’ him, and he commanded wide respect throughout the organisation, yet strangely, less respect at the top.
He taught me about following your own true principles and caring for people, regardless of the current culture and status quo behaviours, expected from peer group directors at the time.
Another great boss was someone who could naturally tune into what wasn’t being said openly in meetings and read between the lines to pick out key issues that others often missed. They were able to shift and modify their own behaviour sets when dealing with different people and communicate in different modes, to create commitment, engagement, trust and inspired action in others.
She taught me about the power of intuition and the creation and maintenance of great connection and relationships between different groups and individuals, from all parts of the multinational corporation she operated across, with great success.
There were other leaders I worked with who, got things done at any cost and left a trail of destruction behind them. They needed essential career moves every 2 years, to avoid their past mistakes catching up with them. Finely honed image management and politicking skills, were primary survival mechanisms for these types of leaders.
You can also learn a lot from exposure to bad leadership and team practices, if you are brave enough to rise above them, rather than copy and emulate. These experiences taught me many things, including the difference between ‘doing the right thing regardless’ and ‘pursuing short term career advancement at any cost’.
So, What About Your Role Models?
• Who do you draw your inspiration from and who are your role models?
• What different characteristics of leadership and teamwork do you draw from them?
• If you had your own dream team Board of Directors, or team members around you, who would they be and why?
Notice what different characteristics show up for you… and how much you actually apply them in practice. Sometimes our self perceptions are different from our practical actions. Are we building or damaging our working relationships as ‘business as usual’?
Our ego likes to keep a rosy picture of our identity alive inside, and self justify the more damaging choices of behaviour we adopt. ‘He made me do that…’ or ‘she left me with no choice but to…’ can be how you spot your own examples, particularly around emotionally charged or conflict based situations.
Try asking the people you work with to give you an honest view of your top 3 strengths they appreciate the most and top 3 limiting factors, that if you overcame, would make you an even greater leader or team worker. See what you come up with…
Another great leader I had the opportunity to work with, who led multi-£M construction and infrastructure projects, shared his approach to highly charged emotional situations, where tensions are running high and conflicts abound in the workspace… paraphrasing…
‘Go back to facts, data and evidence and build something new around those things. Try not to be influenced too much by emotional venting, but allow some of it, if it will help to clear the air, relieve pressure and reveal more team dynamics and relationship issues that are out of whack – at the end of the day its people that deliver projects, not plans, but sometimes we need reminders to get back to behaving like adults’
Nick Le Clere is a strategic change consultant and facilitator, executive leadership coach, trainer, innovator and speaker, running online webinars and learning events for conscious business leaders of the future.
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