Continuing with the keys to build a winning team that I shared in the previous post article, here are the last three keys to build a high performance team; keys that we will discuss deeply in the upcoming posts.
“Caring is a strategy” (Jon Gordon)
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, he tells a great story about Steve helping his father build a fence when he was a boy. His father told him he must care about crafting the back of the fence as much as the front. When Steve asked why the back mattered when no one would see how it was crafted, his father told him, “but you will know”. Steve’s father taught him to care more and years later Jobs would create Apple and a series of products made with care and challenging the status quo.
“Apple cared about the work they were doing and the products they were created, and in turn their customers cared about them” (Jon Gordon).
Jon Gordon calls this a “caring trademark”, which makes companies like Apple, Patagonia, Zappos or Warby Parker stand out from the competition. As for leaders, they show their “caring trademark” in their one-on-one contact with their people. What matters most for leaders is the impact that they made in the lives of others (see Mandela’s video below for a great example).
What is your caring trademark? I invite you to create your own.
“Team beats talent when talent isn’t a team” (Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons coach)
As a good friend of mine says that individual talent is not talent, it’s individualism.
A connected team becomes a committed team. And how can we have a connected team?
In an era where communication is made easier than ever, the challenge now is that people are connecting more with their devices than with each other. While many teams and organizations are banning technology and have developed no-phone zones (like Guardiola’s Internet ban at Manchester City), the key lies in finding a balance: if company leaders want to connect with the younger generations, they will have to adapt to their way of communicating. Likewise, this should be always in addition (not substitution) to one-on-one conversations, so disconnecting from technology and connecting with the people will become a must in any organization seeking excellence.
It is not a coincidence that winning teams are the ones where players share more off-the-pitch moments during the year (family nights, bbq, community service, etc.).
“Connect outside the locker room to be strong inside the locker room”
And since connections are never static, we should not assume that since we were connected in the past, we are still connected at the same level in the present. That’s why leaders need to keep working on it at all times. Connection is like marriage or a relationship, you have to work on it every single day, like a person watering a plant.
“The connection you create today will be the bond that strengthens your team tomorrow.”
When you are 100% committed it is like when you fall in love, everyone around you feels it and notices it.
Spanish psychologist Pep Marí describes the difference between involvement and commitment with the fabulous English breakfast metaphor. In the English breakfast (eggs and bacon) the hen gets involved because she lays the eggs, but the one who really commits there is the pig as he provides the bacon.
The biggest leaders (Gandhi, Mandela) were also famous because of their true commitment, because of what they sacrificed in order to help many others.
“You don’t have to be great to serve but you have to serve to be great”
In my training work with corporations, I’m still surprised that many managers and leaders think that as they gain power and responsibility, their team should serve them more, but great leaders know that their job is to serve their teams, not vice versa.
How to have a more committed team? As we discussed earlier, it all starts with open communication and trust building. If our team sees we are coherent and transparent with them, they will trust us and if they trust us, they will commit to what we seek to accomplish. Nobody will commit to anything if there is no trust.
Here is an extraordinary example of leadership in caring, connecting and committing.