Great teams are never accidental, they are not simply the result of luck, of the right people randomly coming together to work towards a common goal. The genesis of effective teams revolves around inspiring leaders; they are built by those with vision and purpose.
We all know which qualities make a great leader—we look for someone who is proactive, who is not afraid to make tough decisions, who sets lofty goals and has the ability to motivate others to attain them—but what not enough of us realize is that we all have some untapped leadership potential within us. Leaders, like teams, are often “made” rather than born. (And, in the same vein, those who already identify as leaders can always find new methods to improve their technique.)
Ergo, if you have team building aspirations, if you wish to either become a team leader or enhance your existing team bonding skills, there are strategic steps you can take to do so, such as the four team building methods outlined below:
- Be mindful of how you work.
When in a leadership position, you’re entrusted with monitoring how everyone else is working, and as such, you may easily forget to remain aware of how you’re working. Always take the time to step back and analyze how your leadership style is impacting those around you: Are your techniques effective for the team you’re currently working with? If you see areas that could use improvement, be accountable and work on them; your team will respect you all the more for doing so.
- Get to know your team well.
Leaders often separate themselves, on some level, from the rest of the team, as they are in a position of authority. This may feel more “professional”, but in reality, too much of this distance easily cripples a team leader’s ability to relate to and inspire those on his or her team. Instead, get involved as a peer—participate in corporate team bonding activities, encourage camaraderie between team members, and take the time to empathize on an individual level with those on your team. Only by truly knowing people in this way can you tap into what motivates and inspires them.
- Create well-defined roles and responsibilities.
Once you truly get to know those on your team, you can take that knowledge one step further by making sure each individual has clearly defined roles and responsibilities that fit his or her skills and temperament. This is where you can create true team synergy; each team member’s interconnected, interdependent responsibilities may be linked in such a way that strengths are maximized and weaknesses downplayed, allowing the team to function as a single, powerful, streamlined entity.
- Always be proactive about giving feedback.
Human beings require validation, and whether it comes as constructive criticism or praise (depending on the needs of the situation), you as a leader must remember to give it, and often. Feedback is more than just the “affirmation” part of team building, it is the grease that keeps the wheels of the machine moving, letting people know when they are on the right track, and when they should adjust certain aspects of their performance to achieve even more. Remember to give feedback in an “organic” way, too; don’t wait for performance appraisals and other formal occasions, but instead give feedback informally as well, while work is actively underway.