Strong, positive teamwork is defined by a leader who has a vision and the ability to inspire his or her team to work toward the realization of that vision.
The leader is not threatened in the least by the expertise and diversity of his or her team. Rather, a good team leader engages his or her teammates in a discussion about what quality looks like, what is needed to perform and complete the job, and empowers the team members to always strive for quality improvement.
Let’s break all that down into its component parts. The first is a clearly defined leader. I believe every team must have a leader. There must be someone who is in charge and makes the ultimate decisions.
Team members may take turns being the leader as long as everyone is clear who the leader is on any given day. Another variation of that theme is to have certain people be the leader for projects that are in their area of expertise. However, in every event, there can be no question among teammates who is the leader for that day or project.
The leader needs to have a vision. This is similar to Covey’s second habit, “Begin with the end in mind.” A true leader creates the end product twice—once mentality and then in its actual form. It is impossible to lead toward a fuzzy vision. People are simply not inspired to follow uncertainty.
Having the vision is not enough to inspire teammates to strive toward the same goal. A good team leader knows how to help each teammate see how the end product or service will be useful and what, exactly, their individual contribution is toward that end.
How does the janitor contribute to fans’ enjoyment at a professional baseball game? By providing a clean, neat bathroom experience—that’s how. If the janitor sees himself as a critical cog in the big picture goal and he receives positive recognition for it, then he is more likely to perform his job with enthusiasm.
Another component of being able to inspire one’s teammates is having a clearly defined mission that everyone, preferably, has had a part in developing, but if not, then at least team members can agree to the previously established team mission.
This becomes important in times of conflict between team members. When there is a dispute to be solved, it is helpful to have an already established way to measure the solution. Solutions are always held up against the mission and whether or not it will move the team closer or further from the ultimate goal.
The other advantage of having a mission that has been agreed upon by all team members is that it can enhance cooperation. One of the most difficult things to manage on a team is an individual ego. There can be petty jealousies and a competitive spirit that can kill the cooperation of the best team. The mission statement is a way to minimize this potential for disaster.
The mission remains the focus that everything else is compared to. An individual’s action is either helpful or hurtful to the mission and dealt with accordingly. The group’s goal must always be placed above any individual’s desires or ego. Jealousy and backstabbing have no useful place on a team.
A good leader is in no way threatened by the expertise and diversity of his or her team. The best leaders are always seeking information from the front line people who are doing the actual work. Without information from team members, the leader’s hands are tied behind his or her back.
It is also critical to use team members in their areas of expertise. Leaders can’t know everything about everything. There will be team members who have skills and abilities that surpass those of the leader in certain areas. A good leader will ask for help when it is prudent.
This is also a time to value diversity. Having a team made up of people who all do the same jobs in pretty much the same way really has no value. One person could more easily do the job than assembling a homogenous team.
The value of a team comes from its heterogeneity. Getting feedback and suggestions from people who do things differently is what will spark the creativity and the genius of the team. This is what masterminding is all about. Tap into the wealth that is already there.
Finally, a good leader holds the bar high. He or she does not ask his team to be average or mediocre. Average and mediocre can be easily replaced. The leader asks his or her team to collectively do their very best and when they are done, the leader asks them to always strive for continuous improvement. The work is never done. The team should always be evaluating what has been implemented and be comfortable making suggestions for ways to do it even better.
Previously, I mentioned that a good leader empowers his or her teammates. Creating a need-satisfying environment does this. Team members must get along and know that the leader and the company have their best interests at heart. They must feel important, listened to and respected. They must have the freedom to make choices within the context of their assignments and they must have some fun in their work.
It is also critical for team members to feel safe. This means that they are not fearful in any way. The team leader is critical in fostering this environment for the empowerment of the entire team.
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If you were to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. This blueprint proves useful because it contains more than directions on how to build a house. It also describes the finished house.
So, what does this have to do with leadership?
Last month I asked an audience of leaders to tell me the characteristics of an ideal leader. Their answers were (in the order collected):
A good listener, enthusiasm, passion, shows appreciation, a visionary, role model, trusting, integrity, organized, knowledgeable, credibility, persuasive, charisma, team building, clarity of purpose, problem solver, attitude of service, leads by example, patience, willing to act without complete knowledge, understands followers, consistent, empowers other people, and adapts to change.
I’ll add that this is essentially the same list that I receive from other audiences when I ask this question. From this comes some useful insights.
1) Notice what the list contains. All of these characteristics relate to the human side of leadership. That’s interesting because I often hear people minimize this side of leadership with terms like “soft” or “touchy feely.” Actually, applying these characteristics requires more strength than not.
2) Notice what the list excludes. Absent from this list (and all lists from other programs) are characteristics such as stern, mean, serious, short tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. And that’s interesting because many popular representations of leadership emphasize at least one of these “hard” characteristics. In fact, these characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength (or the skills) to apply the human side of leadership.
3) How about you? How would you rate yourself as a leader compared to the list of positive characteristics? If you were to survey the people who report to you, how would they describe your leadership? Would they list characteristics from the “soft” list or from the “hard” list? Could you become more effective by improving upon any of the “soft” characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your organization? Do they truly maximize human potential?
People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect. They want leaders who help them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there.
Here are ten steps that will assure your success:
1. BE A GOAL SETTER. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to save for college education for your children? A new car? A new home? You can have whatever you want, but you must want it enough to do the things that have to be done to get it. Whatever your goal, write it down and set a target date for reaching it. Divide the time period into blocks of achievement that are reachable. Work consistently toward accomplishing each day, each week, each month what you set out to do. Goal-setting is a must in every area of life. Little is ever accomplished without definite goals.
2. BE A LIST MAKER. Each evening list all the things you want to get done the following day. That gives you an organized approach to each day. As each task is finished, mark it off your list. It is amazing how much gets done when one works with a “things-to-do” list. Also, have a notebook listing appointments, potential clients, repeat clients, and referrals, and keep it with you at all times. You will be adding to it constantly.
3. BE ENTHUSIASTIC. Enthusiasm is the high-octane “fuel” that salespeople run on. Enthusiasm generates its own energy. Energy and good health are synonymous with busy, happy people, people who are achieving.
4. RECOGNIZE THAT THE MAGIC WORD IN SALES IS “ASK.” In network marketing we don’t have to wait for business to come to us. We create our own business by asking for it. Ask for appointments, then you can do business. Ask for business, then you will close sales. Ask for referrals, then you always have a full list of potential clients. Be quietly, yet firmly aggressive.
5. EXPECT NO’S. Realize that no’s are not personal. In sales, as perhaps nowhere else, the law of averages works. Every no gets you closer to a yes. Keep track of your ratio. It will help improve your techniques. Are you getting ten no’s to one yes? Is your ratio five to one? Remember, the yes’s are your income. Also remember that “no” does not necessarily mean “no.” Often a “no” is simply a stall for more time to think. It may be a request for more information about your product or your service. What your client is actually buying is assurance. Assure here by your helpful attitude and your complete honesty, that you want what is best for her. She will most likely respect you and do business with you.
6. SCHEDULE TIME WISELY. A schedule is the roadmap by which salespeople travel. It takes the frustration out of the day. It assures that the necessary things get done and get done on time. Plan your work then work your plan.
7. BE POSITIVE IN YOUR ATTITUDE. Success in sales, as in all areas of life is 90 percent attitude and 10 percent aptitude. All of us must work at developing habits of constructive thinking. Remember, sales is one of the highest paid of all professions. Statistics show that good networkers enjoy incomes far above the average.
8. HAVE AN OFFICE AREA. Most networkers work from their own homes, but it is essential to have a place where you can work in a organized and efficient manner. An office plus a strict working schedule gives you dignity. Both are absolutely essential for efficient operation and accurate record keeping, so important to the success of any business.
9. BE INVOLVED. Most organization offer contests to stimulate production. Include winning contests as part of your business goals. Contests make your business fun as well as adding considerable dollar value to your income.
10. LEARN TO HANDLE MONEY INTELLIGENTLY. A regular nine-to-five job usually means a paycheck at the end of the second week.
Would financial security mean a lot to you? If so, ask yourself these questions:
* Am I honest?
* Do I really like people?
* Am I willing to learn?
* Am I willing to work?
* Am I capable of being my own boss?
If your answers are yes, to find a good product from the network marketing market, one that you like, one that fills the need of a lot of people, and go to work for yourself! You can turn dreams into reality.