Great teamwork makes anything possible

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3. Share the air
Do your people share the air? Do they listen to each other and respect the diversity of views? Do they collaborate on the most pressing business problems? If so, then you are building a nimble and adaptive business.
The alternative is stifled communication that slows down the business and often leads to finger pointing and blame when things go wrong.
There are simple yet powerful actions to take to strengthen this practice.
• Instead of meetings where people just present information, set them up to brainstorm and share ideas. Pose questions such as ‘What’s the single most important thing for us to improve in the next month?’
• Bring together people with different skills and backgrounds to work on key problems and initiatives.
• Hold ‘whole-of-business’ get togethers regularly so that people get to know each other as people, not just in their business roles.
4. Share the load
When your team culture really starts to ‘tick’, the fourth practice happens spontaneously as people understand what the load really is, and they collaborate to get the job done while playing their own part.
The alternative is what people call ‘look after your own turf’ and you will see it as in-business competition, and narrow self-interest.
Here are five ideas to create a ‘share the load’ culture:
• Bring people together to jointly plan and prioritize
• Ask for help and seek help
• Get the right people in the right jobs
• Roll up your sleeves and help out
• Encourage people to find ways to simplify the business processes
Of all the possible actions, the biggest single contributor to sharing the load is planning and prioritizing together. Have a ‘top 10 priorities’ list for the business and make sure that everyone can see their contribution to those items.
5. Share the wins and losses
In strong teams everyone wins and loses together, whereas in the alternative play ‘I win, you lose’, people take credit for wins, while blaming losses on others.
You have a vital role to play here in instilling frequent good-quality debriefing because this creates the expectation and the opportunity to celebrate successes, learn from these and from the setbacks, and turn lessons learned into lessons applied.
Here are four questions to ask your team to prompt some ‘share the wins and losses’ behavior:
• Are we winning?
• Have you recognised someone’s effort today?
• What wins can we celebrate?
• What have we learned in the past month?
Where to begin?
From small businesses to large corporations the team culture is always a reflection of the unity and day-to-day behaviors of the leaders.
Investing in developing a united leadership team is as vital as having effective financial systems and controls.
You can set up your team for success (and take the load off yourself ) by developing a leadership team that brings the five crucial practices to life in your business:
• Instil vision, values and purpose (share the big picture)
• Foster openness to have the robust conversation (share the reality)
• Engage everyone’s ideas and energy (share the air)
• Be accountable for your job and for collaborating (share the load)
• Debrief, learn and adapt together (share the wins and losses)
The time invested, particularly if guided by a skilled facilitator or coach, will set up your business for success and that arguably is your most important role as the business leader.

This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Graham Winter, an executive director of Think One Team International and the best-selling author of Think One Team. He is a former three-time chief psychologist for the Australian Olympic Team (including Sydney 2000). It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.

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