2007 Winter/Spring Volume 7 No. 1
The Art of Team Success
by Vernon Hills, CEO, PolyJohn International Ltd.
The journey from the dream of creating a business to the reality of running it is not always smooth sailing. The responsibility to employees, customers and suppliers is tremendous. There is a price to pay and sacrifices to make. Yet I wouldn’t want to have another life or career.
I have come to realize that success requires direction, having a clear vision and setting measurable goals so that you aren’t misdirected or stopped by short- term obstacles. And second, it takes effective leadership. You must be both part of a team and the heart of the team.
This is what the late business expert, Peter Drucker, had to say about leadership: “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit…. This is what creates trust and enables you to get the task done.”
Some people I have met seem to be afraid that if they don’t stand above the team, the team won’t follow them.
The best leaders I’ve seen lead from within and follow these three principles:
1. Don’t go it alone—get to know the team and the customers.
As a leader, working as a side-by-side partner with your team often accomplishes more than giving orders. When you work with the team you can teach by doing. You show how you want things done by modeling performance. You get to know your team better and, they get to know you. You can motivate while you work. And you can better understand the challenges your team faces.
When your team knows you better, they may also get to understand more of the harsh realities of business that you face alone as the owner.
Get to know customers and personally introduce them to your team. Open communication with customers resolves many problems. The better your team’s relationships with customers, the stronger your business will be in the long run.
2. Be passionate about your goals because passion is the driving
Nothing motivates people more than the energy and commitment that is created by an individual who believes passionately in a dream. When you focus on realistic, positive goals, you can turn any obstacle into opportunities. Your optimism and confidence will be contagious and your team of employees will come to believe in the company’s future. A positive, passionate workplace creates an atmosphere that is fun and profitable for everyone involved.
3. Select people who can share your vision and goals.
Try to hire positive, optimistic people. Team members that believe your dreams will keep you moving ahead even when you lose faith. In essence, it is not the initial idea that makes a business successful but rather the people with energy and passion that make it work. Choose people who want to be part of the solution and allow them to be the driving force in their own areas of responsibility.
The strengths of a successful business owner include empowering the team by thinking “we,” not “me,” listening to others, sharing ideas, and determining the goals and direction. It usually is not the idea that gets the ball rolling but rather the follow through that gets the job done. Success or failure is not determined by who has the least or easiest obstacles to overcome, but by who has the conviction, direction and encouragement to never give up.
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