Dec 9, 201311:31 AMLeader to Leader
with Terry Siebert
The 3 keys to leading strong teams
(page 1 of 2)
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review tells the story of an orthopedic surgeon who has built a reputation as the Henry Ford of knee replacements. In a typical year, he performs 550 knee replacements, about two and a half times as many as the second-most-productive surgeon in the hospital. His patients also enjoy better outcomes and suffer fewer complications.
How does he do it? Rather than working with an ever-changing supporting cast, he works with two teams. Some of his team members have been with him for more than 15 years.
Successful leaders seem to develop strong teams wherever they go, whatever task the team is assigned. The key factors in leading strong teams are:
1. Establishing continuous improvement by building on the characteristics of strong teams. Key characteristics of strong teams are:
- Cooperation: In a strong team, individuals rely on each other to make processes and interactions function as planned. Strong teams root out uncooperative members and either replace them with people who will move the team process forward or coach them to more cooperative behavior.
- Mutual respect: In a strong team, individuals avoid arrogance, condescension, and criticism. Successful teamwork is achieved as a result of respecting the talents, opinions, and efforts of teammates.
- Democracy: In a strong team, every team member’s voice is heard. Each member of the team has a right to question the process, add input, and evaluate the progress of the team.
2. Capitalizing on individual strengths to take teams to higher levels of performance. In a strong team, the leader knows how to capitalize on each member’s individual strengths. Not everyone on the team has to be a great people person, but some have to be. Not everyone has to be meticulous, but certain members of the team must be. To capitalize on individual strengths, we must be able to:
- Recognize strengths: Many leaders have a hard time seeing the strengths of their team members. In a business climate where appreciation is often in short supply, many of us get out of the habit of looking for the strengths of others. It takes a change in our mindset to start seeing individuals in terms of what we admire and appreciate in them.
- Combine strengths to make a team: Combining strengths in a strong team is a little bit like combining ingredients in a great recipe. Just dumping the ingredients into a pan doesn’t make a great dish, no matter how excellent each individual ingredient may be. It isn’t unusual to see talented, capable individuals who underperform as a team.