• Mark Topley

Why good intentions aren’t enough if you want a great team

‘We live in a culture that encourages good intentions, but is less excited about being intentional – and there’s a big difference.’ – John C Maxwell

This month’s resources are designed to give you the key pointers that help you head off many of the problems you face with your team, and get rid of that feeling of disappointment when things don’t work how you wanted them to.

The single biggest way to create a high performance team is to focus on creating a team of leaders. But good intentions won’t get you there – you need an intentional approach.

I don’t mean a group of people all fighting for position, but a focussed and positive team with clarity about their values and ‘how we do things around here’, trained and empowered to take responsibility. The ‘we people’ who are emotionally committed to their own success and that of the team.

The days of hierarchical leadership are gone. As renowned leadership expert Ken Blanchard says ‘The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.’ Look at any modern, successful sports team, and you’ll see that. True success comes when everyone knows their role, takes on the responsibility for achieving their goals, as well as being a ‘we person’ committed to the whole team winning.

So how do you get a team of leaders in a small business. There are four key steps:

1. Identify the leadership skills that your business needs

This doesn’t mean the leadership positions. That’s a structural, org chart exercise. What I’m talking about is the ways that you want your people to act, and the skills they will need to have to achieve their goals and develop as people. Then make a plan of how you will get there. This could be group sessions that you or a facilitator leads, it could mean peer mentoring, or coaching. The key is to KNOW that you have a plan of how you will get the key leadership skills embedded.

2. Align leadership with business goals

Training people in leadership will bring its own results, but for success, leadership needs to be aligned with the business goals. That means both ‘leadership’ as a group of people, and ‘leadership’ as a defined attitude, approach and set of skills. Everything needs to be focussed on achieving the business goals.

3. Make value-based decisions

One of the hallmarks of a great business is that leaders consider the business’ core and aspirational values when they make decisions. Not only does this build trust (because leaders demonstrate integrity with the core commitments of the business), it also provides tangible examples for your team to latch on to. This kind of principled approach and demonstration helps each person build their own value filter through which they can put every difficult decision they need to make, especially the ones that you aren’t around to help with.

4. Everyone knows how they will be developed

In the same way that you need to create an expectation of development and continuous improvement (see last week’s blog), you must be clear with your team about how they will be developed. Some of my clients use a development track approach, with a pathway for each role. Others have a ‘Vision Board’ for each of their team, where they identify the employee’s strengths and areas of interest, so that a personalised track can be designed. Whatever you choose to do, you simply must back up your commitment to development with a plan. This will include CPD and statutory courses and resources, but to develop leaders, it should include mentoring and coaching, as well as giving people the opportunity to develop skills in a practical way (look out for the blog coming up on 29th March).

We all want a successful business, where the team works well, customers trust us, and we’re making a healthy profit in an environmentally and socially responsible way. A fundamental part of this – create a team of leaders who understand the vision, values and goals of the business, and are developed to go and deliver a far better result that you ever thought possible.

These four steps will help you create a leadership development framework that will help you get there.

As always I am here to guide you and help you get started. You can schedule a no-obligation discovery call here.

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