When I was just starting out in my career, I was lucky enough to attend a leadership and teamwork conference. I have used the information I learned from that conference over the years and it is still valuable to business today. Many of the articles and books I have read since this initial conference has done nothing except validate these 3 ideas. I know there are many other ideas, but these work for me.
1. You don’t have to be the boss to be a leader.
First, let me say there are many very good managers that are not leaders in most companies. You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader and you don’t have to be leader to be a manager. A good manager has the ability to direct and develop people, execute against the corporate vision, and establish and execute against a process. These people are very valuable and are needed in every organization.
A good leader is a person that people want to follow, they are honest and have a high level of integrity. This is important to get people to buy into strategy and the journey. These people have a vision, and a path to get there. They inspire others and make sure everyone knows their importance to achieve the vision. As a result, they must have great communication skills. These are the people that lead by example, that people gravitate towards.
2. Soar with a team of Eagles.
What does it mean to be an Eagle? The Eagle represents honesty, truth, majesty, strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom. Every organization has a group of people, I call Eagles. These are the top producers, the people that seem to fly higher. So, if an entire team can achieve this level, you can achieve far more together than as individuals.
“A Team – even a team of eagles – is a very special and fragile thing. A team is like a family. It’s held together with honesty, trust and respect. Never lose sight of what made your team great in the first place.” –Mike Singletary.
There are basically five steps to becoming a team of eagles.
- Agree on a common Goal. To be effective, everyone on the team needs to be pulling in the same direction, toward the same goal, with the same level of urgency.
- Know the abilities of each team member. Take advantage of each members strengths. Put people in a position to achieve success.
- Communicate effectively. For any team to be successful, it takes open and honest communications. Every team member must understand the vision and where they are in the process. For this to work, they must respect the other team members.
- Sharpen individual skills. Even though you are a member of a team, everyone should be looking at how to better themselves. Sharpen your skills, turn your weaknesses into strengths.
- Execute consistently. To execute consistently with excellence is a discipline and can be difficult to do. But for a team to excel, this must be a conscious decision of the team. Target deadlines and expectations must be consistently met or exceeded.
3. Attitude and Behavior are linked.
Attitudes can have a positive or negative affect on a person’s behavior. If you bring a negative attitude to work or to your team, it can negatively affect your behavior. Conversely, if you bring a positive attitude, it can have a positive impact. A single person can change the behavior of an entire team.
Organizations and teams where people respect and trust each other are more productive and have less turnover than organizations that do not have the respect and trust. Managers and leaders with positive attitudes view problems as an opportunity for success and growth. Managers and leaders with negative attitudes view problems and a reason for failure.
At Zunesis, we have a program called CustomerFirst. This program is about setting high expectations with our customers, then exceeding those expectations. To achieve this, we must pull together as a team, have the right attitude and do the right things.