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Ken Keller: The most success comes from a team effort

Posted: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Ten years ago, Patrick Lencioni published The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I continue to recommend it to business owners and leaders for building teams focused on execution and results.    

Lencioni uses a pyramid to describe what he discusses in the book; at the foundation is absence of trust, followed by fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and at the top, inattention to results.

Each are serious topics damaging companies but are not often discussed.

No business can succeed without teamwork. No leader can be successful without understanding not only what will hinder his team but what it takes to build a team. Using two leaders as examples of building teams and teamwork is a model that you can use in 2013.

Stephen Ambrose is one of my favorite authors and I recently started reading his biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, entitled The Supreme Commander.

Eisenhower was sent to England in May 1942 to create, literally from scratch, a force of men and women who would land in France and defeat Germany on and under the sea, in the air and on the ground. He also had a major responsibility of building political and military relationships with the Allies.  

He took on the task by using tools that had worked for him well in the past; he used organizational and morale building tools from football teams he had coached.

Eisenhower emphasized the team rather than the star; coordinating the efforts of many versus the performance of the individual; pulling together people instead of allowing people to go it alone; keeping in the forefront that everyone had a responsibility to act and work together; and that everyone makes a contribution. He believed that success comes through and from a team effort.

His was quoted as saying, “War has become so comprehensive and so complicated that teamwork seems to me to be the essence of all success.” Eisenhower was right; any organization that wants to be successful must have solid teamwork as its core.

While the 2012 UCLA football team lost its final game in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, overall, the season was a success. The team had its best record since 2005.

At the foundation of its winning record was the two weeks spent at Cal State University San Bernardino in training camp. The goal of the August getaway was, according to head coach Jim Mora, “…to build cohesiveness and also give us the ability to grind it out in some uncomfortable situations.”

Mora wasn’t speaking about his players being successful on third-and-20. The coach was referring to being able to have uncomfortable discussions with players who did not fully embrace the concept of teamwork and were lacking in understanding the obligations and responsibilities of being a contributing team member.

The UCLA players recognized the value of that training camp; it was where they learned to trust the coaches and one another; had necessary conflict to resolve issues; learned who was committed to the team for the season; accepted the accountability and responsibility for playing on a winning team; and gained understanding of what results were necessary to succeed as a team.

What Lencioni emphasizes in his book is what Eisenhower and Mora actually did: take the leadership role in creating and building teams. It’s the responsibility of every leader, at every level.

When 2013 is evaluated, the results will show how much attention you have placed on working to eliminate the five dysfunctions and build a team that performs.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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