Let’s face it, people are self-interested. And there is nothing wrong with that. People want to know what’s in it for them.  But further to being self-interested, people are also motivated by being part of something bigger than themselves. People are interested in knowing how they contribute to the greater good. Once certain individual basic needs are met, they are concerned about the bigger picture.

We need to take care of our team’s individual needs and be mindful of what motivates them. It should not stop there. The team’s purpose and values should allow everyone to feel that they are part of something greater. However, to become an Elite Team the focus moves from self-interest to sacrifice. The team needs to realise that it is not about them and their own journey to greatness. It is about assisting others to become the best version of themselves which will in turn allow the team to succeed.

Michael Jordan, the American basketball player stated: “There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

To sustainably succeed as a team, we need to have one another’s best interest at heart. This means that through our actions we need to show that we are truly concerned about a person’s wellbeing. We must be vocal about our passion and care for our teams and help them understand this. Your team must be aware that the decisions you make and the work you do is not to control them but to keep their best interests at heart. Have regular conversations and be diligent in how you show that their welfare is important to you.

Here are a few practical ways to show your team that you have their best interest at heart:

  • Ensure that you have the right health and safety measures in place: Safety is a basic need for all human beings. Ensure that your team feels safe at work. This includes emotional wellbeing as well. Your team must feel comfortable to speak up and bring it under your attention that they do not feel safe at work.
  • Regular follow ups on their performance: Employees cannot improve without receiving valuable feedback. Ensure that developmental discussions do not only take place once or twice a year. These discussions should take place regularly in order to keep up your team’s motivation to succeed.
  • Take time to listen: This is often an area we neglect most as it takes time. However, the art of listening can go a long way. Listen to your team’s feelings, opinions, suggestions, critique and their challenges. Listening can take place in different forms such as informal office conversations, scheduled meetings or online conversations. Ensure that you find the medium that works for both you and your team to communicate and listen effectively.
  • Encourage business and career progression: Spending time discussing your team’s future and possible opportunities for them to develop will make them feel valued. It will lead to employees that are willing to work hard and do more than what is expected of them. Taking care of your team’s career prospects will reduce staff turnover and help your business progress.

A common mistake that leaders make is to believe that leadership is an individual sport like golf or tennis. Leadership is a team sport like hockey or soccer where the team collectively comes together to show their leadership abilities to respond with agility and make quick decisions.

“Collective leadership is what happens when several capable people with complementary strengths and competencies, sharing common high values and character, and centred around a compelling purpose and vision, combine to provide direction among a company of people and contribute to their success” – Rob Wilson

For some, collective leadership might be a strange concept as the traditional approach in business supports a hierarchical style where the manager makes all the decisions. Collective leadership will become possible when all the members of the team begin to develop relationships with one another that are truly respectful and sincere enough to allow the team to co-construct the team’s shared vision and purpose.

When collective leadership is achieved there is shared responsibility, decision making and authentic engagement. The entire team is involved in creating the purpose and the vision and then working towards achieving it.

In order for this to happen the values of the team need to be demonstrated consistently. The team values will provide the team with a minimum standard of acceptable behaviour. The team’s values should be aligned to the overall company values and should guide the team’s decision making and behaviour on a practical level. Consistently demonstrating the team’s values will ensure that everyone works towards a common goal.

The key to make your team values come to life is to link specific behavioural examples to each so that your team members understand the value and how to demonstrate that specific behaviour accordingly. As the leader you need to constantly model these behavioural examples and reward such behaviour once your team demonstrates the behaviours. Your team will be reminded frequently on how they can live the team values. This will lead to clarity on working towards the defined purpose of the team.

Consistently demonstrating the values of your team, allowing the team to collectively lead and putting the team’s needs above your own needs as a leader will allow your team to become an Elite team and sustain the success of your team’s output.

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