Leading a team isn’t an easy task. You may have a group of hard-working individuals who are great at achieving results, but helping them click together, communicate effectively and partner up on projects is a very different story. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help your team overcome these top team challenges and become a strong and victorious player in your field or organization.
Being in the leadership rink for almost 20 years, I’ve seen many leaders fail due to misunderstanding the power of teamwork. Best leaders understand the power of teams and invest in their people. One of the most inspiring leaders, Jack Welch, former CEO of GE once said: “We’ve developed an incredibly talented team of people running our major businesses, and, perhaps more important, there’s a healthy sense of collegiality, mutual trust, and respect for performance that pervades this organization.”
Here are the top 4 challenges that even the best teams face and recommendations to help you resolve them.
1. Absence of team identity
The higher you go in the organization, the harder it is to create a team identity. Stakes are higher, demands increase, some individuals might at times work at cross purposes. What does it take for these individuals to form a well-functioning team?
Every great team, no matter the position, industry or size of the company must have a common purpose and align with it. Commitment, effort, accountability and open communication are keys to building a high performing team.
Team leader should get to know members of the team, their personal and professional goals, strengths they can contribute in order to provide support they need to grow and improve. Every team will be different thanks to the individuals who are part of it. Try to avoid bureaucracy by allowing your team to be unique and set them up for success by letting them play in their strength zones.
Setting up direction for a team can be challenge by itself. Sometimes it can be set externally through the board, media or changes in the industry, which might be easier to communicate. But there certainly are times when you need to put on big gils/boy pants, set a vision for your team and deal with the resistance, questions or criticism.
2. Poor communication
As a leader and consultant I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it all. From not providing complete information on time, through false agreements (you know, those people who nod their heads while conspiring against the plan), covering up and lying about the real situation to animosity and conflict in the workplace, you name it. Miscommunication has been the #1 reason behind failed initiatives for many years. The costs of poor communication is staggering.
- Productivity loss due to misunderstandings and rework.
- Stressed, even destroyed relationships due to hurtful, misunderstood statements.
- Eroding trust and loyalty because of lack of clarity.
- Low morale because of insensitive or inadequate information.
- Employee turnover. Eventually people get tired and quit companies who don’t change for the better.
Poor communication doesn’t get fixed over time. It takes intentional action to improve the way we communicate. It starts with commitment – you need to allocate time, energy and resources to change the status quo. In many cases, leaders are too close to pin point the real challenges. Whether you choose to bring in outside help or decide to do it on your own, it starts with listening. What are the common complaints? What’s being said or done that is making things worse? What is not being done that could improve the situation? Once you have the data, it’s time to draft an action plan and start putting it in place. As a leader, it’s up to you to set a good example in effective communication, following through and perseverance. People do what people see. Inspire positive action (click here to learn more about inspiring change in your organization).
3. Lack of creativity
Lack of creativity is visible when team doesn’t generate any new ideas and stops seeing unexpected events as opportunities. I also identify it when individuals on a team stop contributing their best talent. This happens for various reasons. There are teams where creativity isn’t recognized or is viewed as threat to the status quo. At other companies it can be a leadership problem, when there’s a my way or high way mentality on a team, great ideas might be shut down. And sometimes the team can become complacent – they’re either able to get away with the status quo.
The problem with lack of creativity in this day and age is that customer preferences change. Businesses and organizations that remain the same fall behind as they fail to satisfy. You can never improve the results by continuing doing the same.
How can you help your team be more creative?
- It starts with welcoming fresh ideas. Not every new idea needs to be implemented, but they have to be wanted and welcome.
- Look to the future. What is possible? What would you do if you knew you can’t fail?
- Fight against routine. What can be changed, improved or done more effectively? Even smallest things can create necessary momentum in your team that will help launch bigger ideas? (Click here to learn more about the importance of momentum in leadership.)
- Learn from the best. Internet is full of inspiration. Books are full of tips and resources on how to improve and innovate. People around you will willingly answer your questions and help you in your endeavour to innovate. All you need is ask, reach out, be more intentional.
4. Poor leadership
Let’s be honest. Most of the time, the real problem behind the failing team is the leader. After all, people quit people, not the companies. In one of my articles I identified top 10 signs of bad leadership. Use it as a mirror, checking your own behaviour as a leader and taking note of any gaps that exist.
Improving a team is not for fainthearted. It’s a challenging task that will require all you’ve got and some more. What do you need to learn? Where do you need to improve? How will you improve? What resources do you need to allocate to making a difference you want to see? I challenge you to step up your game and stop being a bottleneck for your team and organization. If you’re breathing today, there is more you can be and do. Let’s expand your horizons and take that step to what’s possible.
Before I end, I want to share with you one more resource to power up your teamwork. Click here to access my collection of 4 inspiring videos that will get your team talking about the power of teamwork.
I believe in you!
PS: If your team is facing challenges and you could use help turning things around, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a no-strings-attached consultation.