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How to Guarantee a Bad Team?

How to Guarantee a Bad Team?

When a team fails – are team members responsible?

Cristiano Ronaldo is known as one of the best soccer players in the world. However, following his team’s (Real Madrid) disappointing performance in the 2015/16 season, he famously said during an interview,[1]

“If everyone else was at my level maybe we would be top of the table.”

    Realizing that this probably sounded a little arrogant, he later explained that he didn’t mean to blame his teammates.

    Even if Ronaldo didn’t intend to blame his teammates, lots of people, including team leaders do say something like that and think that team members are the ones responsible for failures. But is it really so?

    Here’s another example. This time from the world of basketball. The Los Angeles Lakers won three straight NBA championships from 2000–2002, but their fortunes faded shortly after that. The reason? Well, it certainly wasn’t the lack of talented players and coaches. Instead, it was the fact that the team suffered from poor leadership, which led to the players becoming frustrated and conflicted.[2]

    As I’ll soon show, when harmony is missing from a team, failure is usually not far around the corner.

    The True Reason Why a Team Fails

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      There are several common reasons why teams fail.

      Lack of a clear purpose or goal. 

      When a team does not know what to accomplish or what is expected, the team members will be unmotivated to move forward. And worse still, many of the team members will find the uncertainty scary and unsettling. Clearly, this is not the atmosphere needed to take a team to the top.

      For example, imagine if a team leader told his team members not to worry about achieving any goals. While day-to-day work might continue, it’s highly unlikely that the team will achieve anything groundbreaking or worthwhile.

      Lack of clear guidelines or instructions.

      Having a goal to aim for is essential, but equally, it’s vital that team members have definite guidelines or instructions to follow. Without these, the team won’t know how to work together – or what to do to improve.

      Think of a production line in a factory. If the production line workers don’t understand what they need to do, then the line will soon break down.

        Lack of planning.

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        Without specific action plans and deadlines that are possible to achieve, a team may be unable to stretch to their full potential.

        For instance, a successful marketing team will follow a strict marketing plan. This will include specific dates for things such as social media campaigns and press releases. A marketing team that has no plan, will be weak and ineffectual.

        Lack of encouragement.

        Encouragement is the vital energy that keeps teams enthusiastic and continuously moving forward. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve had a negative, criticizing manager. No doubt, you just wanted to leave your job. And I bet you certainly weren’t motivated.

        Conversely, think about a time when you had a manager who was always encouraging and positive towards you. Even if you didn’t like the role much, you most likely worked well as you wanted to please your manager.

          So, what happens to a team that follows one or more of the four negatives above?

          The first thing that occurs is that a consistently low standard of quality will be output by the team. There will also be an environment that fosters lazy or passive team members. (In other words, team members who don’t make any effort to improve themselves or the team.)

          The team will also be likely to deny their responsibilities. For example, if they demonstrate poor performance – or even make mistakes – they’ll look for excuses.

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            A team that doesn’t work on the same page and isn’t motivated will stay the way the are: at the bottom, and failing to ever improve.

            There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Team

            All the above things that a team lacks – are things that good leadership can help avoid.

              You may have heard the expression that “there are no bad students, only bad teachers.” Well, in my experience, it’s exactly the same with teams. There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

              Team leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems.

              A team can only deliver exceptional performance if their leader ensures they work harmoniously together towards a focused goal and with increasingly high standards of performance.

              Get Back on the Road to Success

              Okay, you’ve successfully ploughed through the negatives. Well done! Let’s now look at some concrete steps you can take to get your team working to their full potential.

              1. Set clear directions and goals

              Don’t just introduce long-term goals which seem too far away for the team to visualize the end results. Instead, have immediate and short-term goals so there’ll be small milestones to achieve, step-by-step before reaching the primary goals. When these small steps are added up together – the team will find they’re achieving some great stuff!

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              Let me give you an example. Let’s say an upcoming pop band wants to record an album. Unfortunately, they don’t have any budget or any songs of their own. In a situation like this, an album will probably remain a distant dream. However, if the band were to break down their goal into small steps, they would be sure to be encouraged by their initial successes. (These might be writing their first song, or saving enough money to book a recording studio.)

              2. Ensure the team know what is expected of them

              A team leader must ensure that team members do not slip into substandard performance and start to make this their new standard. In order to avoid this, the team leader will need to make it clear that there will be consequences for team members who don’t meet the required standards.

              This is not to say that the team leader should act like a dictator. As I’ve mentioned above, this management style will kill the motivation of team members. Instead, through performance appraisals and specific goals, a team leader can work with his team to make sure they stay on track. Team members who don’t make the grade, will most likely need more training and encouragement. Of course, if this fails, then it may be time for the team leader to suggest to the team member that they might be better off in another role, team – or company!

              3. Team leaders must always strive to improve

              Dynamic and successful teams must continuously review their performance to help identify weaknesses – and to find ways to overcome them. They must also find out their strengths – and enhance and make the best use of them.

              It’s obvious that a team leader must lead the way with the above performance reviews.

              Imagine an ambitious CEO of a tech startup. They have great vision and big, impressive goals. However, they lack one key leadership characteristic: they don’t know how to help teams within the company to continuously improve. A leadership failure like this can be fatal to a company’s success. Fortunately, even if the CEO can’t lead the teams in this way, a strong team leader could be brought in to oversee the workings and performance of the company’s teams.

              Leading the Way

              Great teams always have great leaders. And a great leader will understand that acknowledgement of failure and ownership of problems are key to a winning team. They won’t blame team members for failure – but instead, will always believe that the buck stops with themselves.

              Next time you come across a bad team, take a close look at their leader. You’ll most likely find that they’re failing to lead their team properly. Conversely, the next time you come across a successful team, take a close look at their leader. You’ll almost definitely find a purposeful person, who leads their team by example.

              Whether you’re a team leader or a team member, try adopting the tips in this article. I’m sure you’ll find that they’ll lead to increased productivity, achievements and overall team satisfaction.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Last Updated on March 15, 2019

              How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

              How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

              When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

              Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

              In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

              What Makes a Leader Fail?

              A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

              If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

              And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

              What Is Effective Leadership?

              Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

              Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

              Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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              “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

              How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

              To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

              1. Courage

              The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

              “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

              Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

              For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

              In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

              It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

              Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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              2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

              If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

              The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

              To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

              3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

              Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

              Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

              4. Likability

              Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

              When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

              Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

              So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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              5. Vulnerability

              Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

              When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

              6. Authenticity

              Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

              Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

              7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

              Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

              Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

              Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

              Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

              As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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              “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

              8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

              Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

              This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

              9. A Passion for Continual Learning

              Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

              These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

              Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

              The Bottom Line

              No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

              Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

              More Resources About Effective Leadership

              Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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