A great coach knows how to build a high-performing team. To do that, you need a blueprint because you can't build anything without a system to plug talented players into.
After playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and spending the last two decades of my life in training and development, I am thoroughly convinced that teamwork is the most important aspect of your agency's success. There should be no more debate, no more deliberations and definitely no more confusion about how to maximize your agency's productivity and earning power.
In sports, great players are always connected to great teams. In fact, you can't be considered a great player unless you play on a championship-level team. If you aren't the cornerstone of a great team, how great are you really?
So, agency owner, can I ask you a question? I know you are focused, I know you are driven, I know you have a vision of being the best. I know you are really, really, really good. And I know you probably want more. But how good is your team?
In sports, we get immediate feedback on how good a team is. What really makes a great player great is their ability to elevate their teammates. A star player is a huge piece of the puzzle, but they are not the puzzle itself.
When I left the sports world and entered the business world, I was blown away because as an athlete I had been brainwashed by the teamwork ethic. In the NBA, we rarely spoke about leadership because everyone is a grown man and doesn't need a leader per se. What we were looking for was the perfect fit, great chemistry and cohesion created by complimentary gifts and core values that can work together in harmony. Each of us knew what we brought to the table, but we all knew we couldn't achieve success alone.
But when I first meandered into the professional world as a business coach, everything was about leadership. I was honestly confused. This is not high school, people. Everyone at your agency is an adult. Why is everything about leadership?
Bottom line, we celebrate Michael Jordan and Tom Brady as the greatest of all time, and they have achieved these accolades because they were cornerstones of great championship teams. But let's remember they were surrounded by other good players, legendary coaches and owners. Success is a team sport.
You should be the cornerstone of your great team. When you have a great team, everyone wins and everyone benefits, especially the owner of the agency.
What I want to do for you is simple. I want to lay the foundation of how to construct and build a high-performing team. A word of caution, agency owner—where I come from, if a team struggles they fire the coach. And by the way, your biggest mistake may be thinking that you're the MVP in need of some help, when in fact you're actually the coach.
A great coach knows how to build a high-performing team. To do that, you need a blueprint because you can't build anything without a system to plug talented players into. Are you just hiring random individuals and hoping and praying they click?
When you build a perfectly constructed team, it becomes special. And everyone knows it. Every goal and everything you want in your business is connected to teamwork. When human capital works together in harmony, it's not only beautiful to see, it is also highly productive.
But here's the thing. Your agency should be full of professionals who help each other grow. You may have multiple leaders who impact the team. Everyone may not be in charge. But everyone must be an impact player who contributes to the bottom line.
Great teamwork allows professionals to level up overall team performance. You must also require professionals to sacrifice personal glory for overall team success—and that starts with you. You can't be a glory-hound coach.
Here are six traits to look for as you build a championship-winning team:
1) Common goals are critical to team building. You and your executive team may have many goals for your business. But does every team member know about these goals? Successful teams are led by leaders who set clear goals for the team and each individual. When business leaders share their goals with the entire team, everyone can work toward achieving them.
You must work together to reach the common goal of becoming a championship-caliber business team. Nobody can be selfish because if they are, it can sabotage the team's ability to reach its goal. Common goals create a shared fate. We win together or we lose together. Whatever we do, we do it together.
2) Commitment to achieving common goals. Commitment occurs when each member of your team focuses on achieving the team's goals over and above their individual objectives. Commitment to team goals is created when all team members contribute to and agree on the group's objectives. They then work together to achieve their goal, no matter how impossible it may seem.
When you build a team of committed employees who all know, understand and commit to the team and its goals, there is no stopping you from achieving incredible results. Nobody should feel the need to touch up their resume.
3) Accountability is delivering on responsibility. Your team's success hinges upon accountability. As the owner, you're not only responsible for holding yourself accountable, you're also responsible for developing a culture of accountability on your team. Successful coaches instill that responsibility into the DNA of their team. And in return, they will get outstanding outcomes.
Business leaders haven't done a great job with accountability, according to a 2011 survey by Dr. Vince Molinaro. While 72% believed that leadership accountability is a critical issue in their organization, only 31% were satisfied with the degree of leadership accountability demonstrated at work. Further, only 49% had set clear expectations of their leaders, and only 20% had the courage to address mediocre leadership.
To be successful, each team member must understand, accept and be accountable for their role on the team. Remember, great teams have acceptable and unacceptable standards that everyone knows and believes in. It's up to you to make sure everyone on your team knows they will be held accountable, including yourself, and must accept responsibility for their success and failures.
4) Communication can make or break your business. Good communication enhances your potential for success, whereas poor communication can lead to failure.
Communication flows in multiple directions. And today, we have more options for communication than ever, with in person, phone, email, text, video conferencing, instant messaging and much more. The challenge you have is not only to get your team to communicate with each other, but to provide guidance on the type of communication channels to use.
When you have clear and concise communication between teammates, you are more likely to get desired results. But when communication is not clear or team members do not receive important messages, then you may compromise the outcome.
To decide the best communication pathway for your team, consider which team members need to know what and when, as well as the types of media to use to deliver which kinds of information.
5) Team chemistry is a big factor in your success. Can you create team chemistry? Or is it cosmic and occurs naturally? Team chemistry is the relationship among team members that determines the composition of the team. When each team member contributes and interacts with other members, they can build the chemistry that evolves into productivity.
Teams that have good team chemistry have members who value and enhance their relationship with every other team member. But when you have a team in which some team members do not respect or work well with another team member, that can damage overall team chemistry.
You are the coach, so you must be responsible for building that chemistry. It's not just about finding the best talent to add to your team. It's more important to find talent that can work well on the team and enhance its chemistry. People with great talent often have big egos that in turn could adversely affect the chemistry of your team. In that case, you must sacrifice this talent to avoid spoiling the balance.
Great business teams have team players that respect each other's unique skills. To build real chemistry, your team must be properly balanced with the right pieces in the right places. Another often-used metaphor is putting the right team member in the right seat on the bus.
6) Trust is a key principle in developing an effective business team. Trust in your business team can be defined as a belief in the team's commitment to achieving its goals and its ability to achieve them.
When you have a business team that trusts the agency and each of its team members, you can succeed in reaching your goals. But when your team lacks trust, it can impede your growth. To develop a peak-performing agency, you must believe in your goals, strategy and teammates.
And that's true for everyone on your team. This trust can help the team overcome any obstacles or challenges that come your way.
Walter Bond is a Hall of Fame motivational speaker and former NBA starter. He has made a career of learning and mastering the formula for greatness.