Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to build an A-Team ...

After an extended period of recruiting, you have finally pulled together a great team. You've been able to nab some of the best talent in various areas and now, by pooling all this talent and skill together, you expect great things for the future.

So it's time to hold your first meeting as a team. You gather in the conference room, greet everyone warmly with a broad smile, then hold hands and sing a stirring version of "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore."

Great meeting, right?

Of course not, but that's what many leaders might as well do once they've assembled a talented team together considering what they actually do with the talent they recruit.

So often, leaders focus so intensely on creating consensus from their pool of talent that they actually squelch the ability for the talents, skills, and experiences of their team members to come out. We're so afraid of hurting feelings that we don't create an environment where great ideas can be created by challenging each other to greater levels of thought and creativity.

Rarely do truly great ideas come from a first suggestion. But when talented people challenge each others' thinking, mediocre ideas can sometimes be polished into something great. To be able to accomplish that, you have to build an environment in which ideas are not only welcome, but constructively challenging ideas is expected by team members.

Great teams are not personality neutral. If you really want to get the best from your team members, give them the freedom to be who they are among their teammates, rather than trying to remove personalities. The result may be more raucous interactions, but the outcome will likely be talented individuals bringing their A-game and having that challenged to its best potential by other talented teammates. Cohesion as a team of talent who respect, but challenge and support one another, will consistently render better results than a team forced into leader-driven consensus.

How are you encouraging your team members to bring their talent, skills, experience and honest assessments to the attention of your team? Are you focused on talented cohesion, or peaceful consensus?


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