Part of being a leader is supporting your team members, especially when difficulties arise. The support can take on various forms from just simple encouragement to jumping in to remove significant obstacles that are impeding the progress of a project. As a leader you also must create a team with team members who are willing to support one another.
Standing by your team members is difficult if you have done a poor job when selecting them in the first place. Jim Collins likes to say that first need to get “the right people on the bus.” Here are some things to think about when building a team:
- Does the potential team member understand the organization’s mission?
- Is he passionate about the mission?
- Does he have a plan for his own leadership growth and is he following it?
- Do the skills he possesses compliment the other members of the team?
- Will he make sacrifices for the benefit of the team?
Once you have your team in place you must create an atmosphere that allows the team to function as a unit. Some things are essential to make that happen; here are some basics:
- Everyone on the team must trust one another without question.
- Team discussions must be able to take place without team members withholding information.
- Team members must hold each other accountable for promises made to the team.
- Team members must be able to share their failures as well as their successes.
- Everyone must forego their individual egos and be willing to call individual successes team successes.
One of my favorite articles about teams was written by Warren Bennis. He said this:
In short, despite their differences in style, the leaders of Great Groups share four behavioral traits. Without exception, the leaders of Great Groups:
- Provide direction and meaning. They remind people of what’s important and why their work makes a difference.
- Generate and sustain trust. The group’s trust in itself — and its leadership — allows members to accept dissent and ride through the turbulence of the group process.
- Display a bias toward action, risk taking, and curiosity. A sense of urgency — and a willingness to risk failure to achieve results — is at the heart of every Great Group.
- Are purveyors of hope. Effective team leaders find both tangible and symbolic ways to demonstrate that the group can overcome the odds.
Standing by your team members is essential if you want to be an effective leader. If you need inspiration here is a great video of Ben E. King’s classic song “Stand by Me.” It was produced by a group called “Playing For Change.”