Volume 10 | Issue 4 | Year 2007

Looking at successful teams in any sport, you will find a common bond within the team. Sometimes, it is called chemistry – as if just the right mix of chemicals has created a special new formula. Other times, it is postulated there was strong leadership provided by key players and everyone else responded favorably to their lead or “charisma”.
There is merit to the leadership issue – with one notable exception. If a team begins to heavily rely upon their selected leader – they become dependent upon the leader for their overall performance. While great leaders are necessary and very helpful to raising performance standards – true leadership for high performance teams is shared leadership.

When a team has “a” leader, the team becomes dependent upon the leader for their confidence and most importantly – their “will” to win! This is fine as long as the leader is focused, injury-free and having a good game. However, if the leader is unprepared, loses self-confidence or is just having a bad day, the team usually suffers and can even lose, even when they have more talent.

This is the point of shared leadership – interdependence! At the pinnacle of long term team success is the principle of shared leadership. Every person takes ownership and responsibility for the overall performance of the group.
Higher performance levels

In business, shared leadership principles can take a group of individuals to a higher level of performance and productivity. There are five fundamental elements for shared leadership to flourish in the business team environment.

1. Respect for Each Individual is the foundation of effectiveness in team performance. The key point is the understanding that each person on the team brings a uniqueness to the group. This uniqueness is then honored, thus creating a binding unity of the group.

2. Trust in Each Other is a unique factor to human beings. It is the feelings that we acquire regarding the abilities and integrity of individuals. Trust is the invisible bond that allows our expectations and standards to rise to higher levels. When there is a lack of trust in a team, factors such as fear of failure, blame games, low self esteem and an over reliance upon rules and laws become the norm.

3. Personal Accountability for Results is a major contributor to high performance for individuals and teams. Personal accountability is the focus upon results and outcomes over activities. Under-performing groups are focused upon doing low priority activities rather than attaining results. The lack of personal accountability – the act of achieving results and outcomes – is a key reason for under-performance.

4. Effective Communication drives results and productivity. The key factor in making communication effective is the choices made by individuals. Most people send messages – written or spoken – in a method they understand, missing the mark with 50 to 70 percent of other people. Time is wasted revisiting secondary clarity and understanding. The wise leader makes choices regarding the delivery of messages others will understand the first time.

5. Discipline to stay the course is the master key to success for teams and individuals. Discipline is needed by leaders to stay on track when adversity or difficult times become obstacles for goal attainment. A lack of discipline is the leading cause of failure in business today. Effort and discipline go together in getting greater results.

The real question for you: Does your team share the leadership role or depend upon one or two individuals to provide the energy, passion and discipline for the winners edge?

Voss Graham is the founder and CEO of Inneractive Consulting Group, Inc. As the author of “Three Games of Selling,” he works with companies across the country to develop and hire successful sales teams with above average performance. Email voss@inneractiveconsulting.com, or call 901-757-4434.

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