Cultivating High Performing Teams

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“The reason why rivers and oceans are able to be the kings of one hundred valleys is that they are good at being below them.”

Tao-Te Ching CH. 66

Last week I was fortunate to attend one of my company’s “Armour U” training courses, focused on Cultivating High Performing Teams. At the end of the course the teacher had every small group share what their main takeaway was from the morning’s class. Each table had one central theme: trust is the central quality in building a great team. Since the final step in our journey is having the team deliver results, it is important to build trust quickly. We talked about different tactics like sharing vulnerabilities and the importance of that, along with setting clear expectations, and how to deliver feedback.

Tactics are nice, but since trust is built in drops and lost in buckets I think it is important to adapt of mindset that will naturally build trust with others. From a leadership perspective, the best book I have read on this is The Servant. The Servant challenges the usual top down approach to running a company and instead focuses on leaders serving their team, the team serving the front line employees, and the employees serving the customers. This turns the focus from the employee serving management to management serving the employee.

The author, James C. Hunter, writes: “I always tell my department supervisors that their job is to remove all the obstacles in their people’s way in getting patients served. I tell them to picture themselves as giant pavement levelers removing all the speed bumps along the way for their people. Removing the obstacles is serving the people…Unfortunately too many managers spend their careers getting in the way instead of getting the obstacles of out of the way. In my previous life we used to call supervisors who spent their days getting in the way ‘seagull managers’. A seagull manager is one who periodically flies into the area, makes a lot of noise, dumps on people, maybe eats their lunch and flies away. I think we’ve all known a few managers like that in our time…In summary, then a leader is someone who identifies & meets the legitimate needs of their people, removes all the barriers, so they can serve the customer. To lead you must serve.

Take the time to build trust amongst your people and meet their needs. It takes time and effort, but in the long run it will lead to committed instead of compliant behavior & people.

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