I’ve managed a number of teams over the years. Some I built from scratch; some I inherited and then changed over time. While each team had its unique characteristics, they had two main similarities, which influenced – I would even say enabled – their ability to succeed: a shared vision and a set of shared values.

inspire-employeesI should say that I’m strong advocate for leadership consulting. My Executive Coach helped me adjust my perspective, so that it was properly focused on understanding the motivation, strengths and challenges of my teammates. The objective, third-party point of view was invaluable.

Although each team was comprised of individuals, the team, as a collective and collaborative unit, shared a vision of the team’s role. People leveraged their experience, expertise and skills to help fulfill the vision. While they each had their own perspectives and points of view, e.g., client service, graphic design or public relations, they articulated their opinions and recommendations in light of the larger context: the vision. Some of them would even “reality check” one another to ensure the recommended course of action was relevant and valuable in terms of fulfilling the shared vision of the group. From my perspective, this is the best-case scenario; they had a vested interest in fulfilling the vision, so much so, they felt a sense of stewardship towards the vision and one another.

Successful teams also embodied a set of values that guided their actions in fulfillment of the vision. The values were something we spent a lot of time discussing, defining and enforcing. It was imperative that we used a common language and followed a set of rules of engagement – ones that would guide our interactions.

For example, there was concern about “the meeting after the meeting.” In other words, we would discuss something in a staff meeting and then reach a decision. However, there were times when people would meet after the staff meeting and deride what was discussed and decided. This is toxic to building an effective team and was certainly not one of our shared values. So, we talked about it and agreed that we would talk things out: openly, honestly, directly yet constructively. Once we talked it out and a decision was made, we moved on; there was no looking back. Admittedly, this takes a lot of discipline and cultivation. However, the ROI is remarkable: respect and trust among members of the team.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What are the elements you feel are essential to building an effective team?

Chris is Principal of Medici Consulting Services, Inc., a branding, marketing and communications consulting business. He has more than 25 years of professional experience, encompassing a diverse range of sectors and markets including government, health care, law, financial services, and energy.

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