The 7 Things Great Teams Execute Flawlessly05/28/2015 12:00AM
By Glenn Llopis
The San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team demonstrated flawless teamwork in a victorious run over the Miami Heat that culminated in their fifth world championship. Watching the NBA Finals reminded me of an executive training program titled, “What Leaders Should and Should Not Do to Create Championship Teams.” For example, it taught that just because you have the best players, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the best team. Or: just because your team has won in the past, it doesn’t mean that the leader was leading the team the right way – you don’t want to discover the team’s flaws when it’s too late and matters most.
Teamwork occurs when every member is in the zone, working in unison with one another – and when they’re always having each other’s backs. Great teams become great when they don’t need to be taught how to be a great team – they simply need to be reminded about those things they must keep doing. This requires the type of leader that does 15 things automatically, every day with their teams. The most effective team leaders know each of their team member’s tangible and intangible strengths/weaknesses – so precisely that they can design the sequence of their interactions; that is, how each of them must work together across multiple circumstances and scenarios to accurately project a desired outcome.
As you lead the development and success of your teams, please be mindful to carefully monitor the following seven things to assure that each team stays intact and finds its rhythm. In this way, you’ll create the required momentum to sustain the desired results that you are looking for.
1. Remain Poised; Don’t Panic
When things are not working out the way you want them to for your team, it’s easy to grow frustrated and irritated. Be proactive and as you detect uneasiness in your team, lighten the mood and reset the playing field to assure that your team remains poised and in control. Don’t allow your team to reach a boiling point – as this can quickly make them lose hope, inspiration and focus.
When teams remain calm instead of panicking, over time they can learn to anticipate the unexpected and course correct before circumstance force their hand.
2. Stay Focused; Execute the Plan
Regardless of the adversity that teams are faced with, it is important to keep them focused on always moving forward. A fluid mind that doesn’t get caught up in the noise will naturally find its cadence again. The best teams are extremely elastic when they come up against change or unforeseen circumstances because they stay focused on executing the plan and don’t allow others to disrupt them.
Team leaders know this well, and that’s why they prepare their teams to follow the game plan and demand that they execute it flawlessly. Regardless of what point you are in the plan, this is how you build high-performance teams that can sustain optimal results. Leaders also make sure that each member on the team is put in a position to do the things that they love to do and that empowers them to unleash their passionate pursuits of endless possibilities. When they can execute with passion, they will also have the endurance to overcome adversity along the way.
3. Accountability; Deliver Your Role
Whether your team members are top performers or emerging support players, they are both equally important. The best teams are those where each member on the team is accountable to themselves and to each other. They are crystal clear about their role and responsibilities and they know their workplace dot – and where it best fits at all times.
It’s easy for those team members that are carrying the weight of their teams to stray and become more isolated over time. This is when the team’s leader must assure that the team stays together by finding ways to creatively show that the sum is stronger than its individual parts. In doing so, they continually find ways to strengthen the bond of the team by putting them into positions that reinforce the momentum and results that they can build together. Remaining focused and accountable to the goals of the team is crucial for the betterment of a healthier whole.
4. Trust One Another; Treat Each Other Like Family
Great teams are ones in which everyone trusts one another and values the contributions each member brings to the team. Otherwise employees grow complacent – or frustrated trying to find where they fit best in their workplace environment (i.e., have difficulty discovering their workplace dot).
Teams built on trust have each other’s backs and begin to treat each other like family. This allows the team to form a bond that becomes unbreakable. The team also becomes more mentality tough because they don’t have to worry about team members with hidden agendas.
Great teams also realize that they must uphold a sense of humility – where individual achievements and team success are in service to the organization and where a polished executive presence kicks-in to endorse this support. These types of teams never make their superstars (top performers) the focal point of their success. As such, their narrative is always centered on the benefits of strong team execution.
5. Support Diversity of Thought; Embrace Differences
Diversity of thought is underestimated and very much misunderstood in the workplace and in the development of great teams. Great teams know that embracing diversity of thought is a way of broadening perspectives, seeing opportunities previously unseen, enabling expansive creativity, and improving dialogue and problem solving methods.
Diversity of thought is the new currency for propelling innovation and initiative – and teams that are more diverse have a competitive advantage. Diverse teams are more apt to embrace differences and recognize the value of those differences to accomplish their goals and objectives. Just ask the San Antonio Spurs – the most diverse team in the NBA representing players from 8 different countries.
6. Expectations are in Alignment; Adjust to Each Other’s Strengths
Great teams know what to expect from each member of the team. When this is difficult to identify in a team member, they become less relevant to the team and over time can weaken the team. Leaders must keep everyone’s strengths and expectations in proper alignment or they will find themselves at risk of disrupting the confidence and trust of the team.
Leaders with strong teams are the ones who teach their teams to adjust to the strengths of each team member – with proper timing in making those adjustments. Notice how the best of the best in your workplace are always course correcting along the way. Winning teams never grow complacent and are always finding ways to improve and sharpen their ability to execute more effectively, efficiently and consistently.
7. Great Leadership; Strong Culture and Identity
The best teams have great leadership who live the promise of the culture and identity that they in turn want their teams to believe in and uphold. The team’s leader is ultimately responsible to set the tone for the team. They never stop leading, coaching and teaching. They keep the members on their team on their toes at all times. They keep a fresh perspective and are always challenging the team to think differently in an effort to strengthen their bond and subsequent execution.
You know that you have a solid team leader when they are 100% focused on the team and not on themselves. They are great at deflecting any interference that might come their way and are actively involved in supporting team efforts by getting their hands dirty along the way.
Flawless execution doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of great teamwork coming together under great leadership. When Don Sterling failed to support diversity of thought and embrace differences (#5), all seven of these things began to unravel and it affected the whole team. The San Antonio Spurs went on to show us what happens when you execute these traits flawlessly –and they have another NBA championship to prove it.
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