Last week I made my annual visit to teach two courses for amazing nonprofit executives gathered at the NeighborWorks America Training Institute. After teaching my Leading Breakthrough Strategy and Leading High Performing Teams courses, I’m left with these reflections. The Ultimate Team Leader does these four things exceptionally well:
1. Ethical & Inclusive. This is the bedrock for success for the Ultimate Team Leader. They “do the right thing the right way.” They respect and include everyone. Leaders who are respected by others set the tone for the team and are more effective in their work. They work through ethical dilemmas with transparency and full communication with all impacted.
2. Vision & Mission Focused. Why are we here and Where are we going? The Ultimate Team Leader is clear on this for themselves and regularly reminds everyone on the team of the vision and mission. This kind of leader invites others to participate in creating the vision and the strategy of how to get there. Some would say they are cathedral builders.
3. Selects for Talent & Develops Strengths. The Ultimate Team Leader discerns the natural talents needed for each role on the team. They utilize hiring processes which help reveal those the talents of their candidates and select for that. Once hired, they treat each person uniquely so they can do work that matches their talents. They encourage professional development activities which allow each person to further develop their strengths. See here to learn more.
4. Coaches Team for Results. The Ultimate Team Leader understands the key dynamics of a high performing team (see here for more). By setting an example of ethical leadership they build trust within the team and teach the importance of constructive conflict. Together, the team builds commitment to the vision and mission. They hold one another accountable for producing results.
None of this works without the first ingredient. You can’t fake sincerity or take short cuts with integrity. In the end, the Ultimate Team Leader produces a group of individuals who are excellent leaders on their own and perform as an exquisite ensemble. They are each Ultimate Team Leaders in training.