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Aug 13

Chris Smeaton

Cohesive Teams

There is tremendous amount of information and research about being a leader in today’s world. But what about the team that surrounds the leader? Successful leaders do not do it on their own! Instead, they develop a team that carries their organization forward. A focus on the development of the leader’s team is crucial for the leader’s success but ultimately benefits the entire organization.

Often leaders come into their teams. They are parachuted into the organization and must establish relationships with the current staff. In other instances, the new leader is able to hand pick his or her new team members. The majority of time, it is a combination of both. Regardless of the situation, a cohesive team must be developed to ensure positive outcomes.

Cohesive teams share a common vision. Every member understands the purpose of the organization and works to further the mission and vision. This has to be a non-negotiable for the leader and his or her team. The picture of the end results must be crystal clear to all team members and their desire to meet those outcomes must be united. Although the road to those goals may be different, the end results must be accepted and shared by all members of the team. Without commonality, teams become increasingly fragmented and eventually implode.

Cohesive teams trust one another. From a relational point of view, trust is of the greatest importance. While the leader must always first extend the hand of trust to all members, eventually all members must extend their own hands too! Team members spend too much time together to have to second guess one another. Trust allows team members to be vulnerable, enhances creativity and promotes a risk taking environment. In its truest form, it is raw and the more raw, the greater the cohesion of the team. Well established trust brings about authentic loyalty to the leader and equally important to each other.

Cohesive teams have conflict. One of the toughest lessons for a leader is to allow conflict into the team because it can be uncomfortable. However, the result of no conflict is group think. Group think is disastrous to an organization’s health and well being. Team members must attack issues from their perspectives with honesty and most importantly, without ego! Positive conflict is without personal ego! This conflict is not about getting your own way but rather ensuring the correct path is taken to achieve the desired results. In the absence of a common vision and trust, positive conflict is rarely evident. Usually the conflict that exists in this case is both unproductive and damaging.

Finally, cohesive teams are different. Effective leaders don’t want “mini-me” clones sitting around the table. Differing personalities, learning styles and problem solving abilities enhance team dynamics. A confident leader surrounds oneself with excellence and looks for traits or skills in others that he or she may be lacking or underdeveloped. This broad perspective is essential to creating the best path forward for the team and ultimately the organization.

Organizational growth will always begin with a strong leader but will only endure with a cohesive team. It is imperative to develop a team that shares a common vision and is characterized with much trust. In addition, the team must be able to confront the brutal facts in an open and honest manner by viewing all issues through distinct lenses. With those building blocks, organizations will be well served by their leadership teams.

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