They say…”It takes teamwork, to make the dream work!” … Perhaps. The right team can lift you to success. The wrong team can crash your business. What can you do to attract and keep the people that will help you move forward?
Pick your Mission… then pick your crew
Behind every inspiring leader we find the vision that inspired them. What fires You up? What is Your Vision? What will be the Mission, that will come out of Your Vision? The answers to these questions have to be crystal clear in your mind … and in your heart, before you even start thinking about building your Dream-Team. It is your clear conviction about Your Vision and Mission, that will attract the right people to Your Cause,.. that will become their cause too!
This team will be fired up, ready to follow you and help you materialise Your Vision. The keyword here is… Integrity. No matter what their level of awareness and experience is, your team members will instinctively see and sense the truth behind whatever message you decide to serve them.
As a Leader, if you do not combine passion, knowledge of your subject, and determination to succeed, your people will not follow you wholeheartedly. Plus, if you have not managed, through constant body-mind fitness training, to build a strong and confident physical presence, many of them will not be willing to follow you into “battle”.
Lone wolves and pack hunters
What is your “hunting” style? Are you a confident, self-sufficient, lone hunter…knowing you will never go hungry? Or maybe you like joining hunting parties and foraging groups, enjoy working together with others, collaborating, finding solutions. As a leader you should be able to play in as many positions in the game as possible… or even act entirely on your own!
A “Hunt” is normally a fast-moving dynamic process. The situation may change very suddenly. Your prey can be strong enough to even pose a threat to you or your team. For circumstances like these you need companions that are physically and mentally fitter than average, fast-thinking, assertively confident. They must be ready to execute orders and also willing take initiative when needed.
Be the catalyst
So what you do after you pick your team wisely?
Being a top piano or violin player does not automatically qualify you to direct a Symphony Orchestra. In the same way, competence alone in your specialty does not directly make you a good Leader. To lead, inspire, guide,.. teams or individuals.., you need to study, practice, develop, a wide range of people skills. The competent leader is a socially confident, people-loving, visionary. A problem-solving peacemaker. A multi-level, multi-media communicator. And above all, the competent Leader is a Catalyst for Transformation. All these qualities are not easy to develop and apply in any field of interest. The path of Leadership is not an easy one. Your wisdom to lead will be built through continuous education, trial and error, persistence and resilience. A dose of Stoicism may definitely help, as your journey will inevitably have ups and downs and “success” is never guaranteed.
Loyalty is essential
Being there,… for better or for worse ..
When you are going up, everybody wants to be your best friend, and join your team. This does not always mean a manipulative intention. People are naturally attracted to strong Leaders. Nothing wrong with this. But after disaster strikes who will still be there to pick up the pieces? Could it be your ”best team member”… or your 2nd in command?. Could it even be the person/people you least expected!?! When the going gets tough you will quickly know who’s really “your team”. In any case, crisis times give you the chance to make some valuable observations. People may admire you and what you do, but when someone wants seriously to join your team they must be given a realistic picture of what to expect and of what will be expected from them. They will have to realise that the marketplace is not a picture frozen in time , but rather a constantly evolving landscape, that can, and will, be presenting new (and old) challenges. Whether these challenges are seen as forbidding obstacles of exciting opportunities for growth, will depend on the perception of the individual facing them.
An individual’s performance always depends on their knowledge/experience, their overall well-being, and other factors. Loyalty, experts argue, is a totally separate personality trait. This will be something for you, the Leader, to explore,.. probably medium to long term. In any case when it comes to picking you soldiers their Loyalty potential should be taken under serious consideration.
The battle… is the exam
You may be training your army forever, in the safety of your base or in the familiar local woods and fields, under sunny blue skies. But , only real battle will test their competence, skill , and moral. The same applies to your team at work, or to yourself and your family in a real crisis. No matter how hard you prepare, life’s unpredictable creativity will outwit your most imaginative “disaster scenarios”. Actually, that’s not bad at all ! Not if you expect it and you continuously keep raising your standards.
So how can you use this idea when you are trying to assemble a battle-ready crew? Pick confident, positive people, that like challenges, and are not spoiled snowflakes. These attributes are even more essential than actual technical knowledge and work experience, although the latter have to be taken into consideration. Be honest with them when presenting the project(s)/task ahead. Make sure you acknowledge them in group and individually. If possible, engage with them in their training and preparation. Depending on your particular project, make sure that your balance working with them, hands on, and leaving them to complete parts of the project on their own.
During the campaign of Alexander the Great against the Persians, in ancient Greece, the Persian King used to observe the battle from the safety of a hill-top, surrounded by his elite personal guard. At the same time Alexander used to charge in front of his army, towards the enemy frontline, riding his white stallion and wearing a golden armour. That must have been one of the most amazing sights in history.., and of course his warriors were always inspired to charge behind him,.. against any enemy. This is called Frontline Leadership! It will inspire your people to follow you against any odds, and it will inevitably give you a strong advantage over your competition.
Note: I may be using military terminology here but this is just a metaphor. I am not suggesting that you have to be aggressive or ruthless in the way you conduct your business, or your life. Everything we observe around us in life is a potential lesson that can be filtered through our own values and used accordingly.
Choosing, developing, nurturing a Winning-Team is an essential skill for a Leader. Even if you can afford a well-run HR Department, you will have to be able to build your core team of close advisors, associates and confidants. No University or advanced qualification will ever be able to teach you this. Only the marketplace. Through constant trial and error. That’s the way to any success .. anyway.