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Do You Really Need to Have the Right Team?

Written by Mark O'Donnell on April 21, 2016

Leadership Leadership Teams

eosww-really-need-right-team.jpgHow often have you thought, “If I only had the right team I would achieve all my goals”? I know I have. Many times. There is a tremendous focus on the lack of available talent in the United States and elsewhere. We can’t find the right people for the job, and we create complex hiring practices to find the best talent for our team.

The right people are important. Yet, they aren't an indicator of future performance.

If having the right team isn’t important in performance, what is? Leadership, great leadership, is the single most important factor in team performance. I have many examples within my own organization.

The Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry puts a premium on where you went to school. What degree you have. What experience you’ve had. I'm sure this is no different from other industries. The question is, how do you get your start if you didn’t go to the right school? The answer is, know Nate Roman.

Your Leadership Team IS the Right Team

Nate has been a partner in my company over the last nine years. He’s built a successful practice hiring individuals who on the surface should not have been given the opportunity. But through his leadership, he has built a team that has been together for more than five years providing “wow” service to his clients.

The single greatest factor in Nate’s success is belief. He believes that every person on the team has the capability to perform at the highest levels. He inspires them, enables them, he's humble, and he promotes teamwork.

He is a great leader and the results are tremendous. He’s had greater margins and profits than any other practice by 20% over last five years.

It’s All About the Leader, Not the Team

In their book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin describe team performance with a story about boat races in Navy SEAL BUD/S training. During the training the SEALs are divided into seven teams and race in a continuous loop. The first-place team gets the advantage of taking a rest and everyone else is the first loser.

During this training, one team would win or nearly win every time. The men worked in complete unison like a machine. Another team was arguing and completely out of sync. The instructors decided to switch boat leaders to see what would happen. In the first race, the team that always finished last won the race. They continued to win or come close. It was the leader who made the difference, not the team. As Willink and Babin write, “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” How true is that?

Becoming a Great Leader of a Great Team

Here are some ideas to become a great leader and stop blaming your team.

  1. Understand that you have a great team already.
  2. Take 100% responsibility for leadership of the team.
  3. Take these 5 steps to become an inspiring leader.
  4. Don’t be an absentee leader. Stay connected on a regular basis.

What steps are you taking to become a great leader?

Next Steps

company strength and weakness

This post originally appeared on The Accountable Coach blog on February 25, 2016.


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