I have worked with many different teams over the last decade, with people from various walks of life, and there is one attribute, one trait, one characteristic that stands out above the rest in making a difference between a great team and a mediocre team. Of course, there are things such as patience, respect, and ability to adapt. I’m not diminishing the value of these character traits, but if I could only identify one thing that separates great teams from mediocre teams, it is this.
Look at Lebron James or Richard Sherman. Regardless of how you feel about these athletes, they have one thing in common: they are always trying to be better than they were the last game. They watch videos of their performance and they study their sport and become masters of it. They have personal coaches they meet with to develop their skills. Isn’t that how we want our teams in our organization to function?
They say that a chain can only be as strong as the weakest link. This is true for our teams as well. The weakest link on your team isn’t necessarily the least skilled nor the least intelligent — although it could be. The weakest link is the team member who doesn’t care to better them self. These people are complacent with their current skill level, don’t take constructive criticism, and buck at any opportunity to grow (conference, training, coaching). These people actually annoy me a little.
But maybe they are actually unaware how they come off. Maybe they don’t understand why it is important to continually grow their skillset. Maybe all it takes is for you to sit down with them, have a little one-on-one coaching moment, and share your organization’s vision. And if that doesn’t work, then maybe they need to take a little break from your team… a permanent break.
So what is the difference maker? The difference maker is great teams are full of people who have a desire for growth and learning. This desire for growth shows humility. These team members understand that they don’t know everything and that they are willing to surround themselves with those who know more than them.
One strategy that I have started incorporating in with my teams is one-on-one coaching. This allows me to discuss any challenges my team members may be facing in their job and how they can take their next step toward success. Coaching also builds deeper influences with team members as they see that you genuinely care about them and their success.