The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Creating A Co-ordinated Team rather than A Collection Of Individuals    

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There are many models for building great teams. One approach is to create a co-ordinated team rather than a collection of individuals. Let’s explore how this works in action.

Co-ordination

Great teams co-ordinate people’s efforts to achieve their goals. They have a clear game plan and ensure people keep following the key strategies to achieve the picture of success.

Such teams recognise that good co-ordination is crucial. It plays a central part in implementing the strategies and aligning people’s contributions. Some teams have many star players, for example, but without co-ordination things fall apart.

Different teams use different methods for co-ordinating their efforts. Some follow certain principles and have certain people who know how to make things work. The quality of a team’s work often depends on the quality of its co-ordinators. They provide the bridge between having a clear strategy and delivering concrete results.

Good leaders often start by giving people the big picture. They then encourage people to follow the key strategies for achieving the picture of success. Such leaders keep reminding people of the following themes.

The What: The specific goals we aim to achieve are … 

The Why: The specific benefits of achieving these goals – for all the various stakeholders – will be … 

The How: The specific strategies we aim to follow to achieve the goals are …

The Who: The specific responsibilities of various people in aiming to achieve the goals are …

The When: The specific things that we aim to achieve and by when are …

Great teams sometimes co-ordinate people’s efforts by getting them to re-centre and refocus. They then highlight the progress being made towards achieving the goals by describing, for example:

The specific things we have delivered in the past month towards achieving the goals are …

The specific things we aim to deliver in the next month towards achieving the goals are …

Great teams also have many good co-ordinators. How to recruit these? When asked about the satisfying projects they have done in their lives, such individuals often say things like:

“I love to make things work. At university I organised lots of events and even now I organise the annual ski trips for my old class. I organised my best friend’s wedding reception and also the first annual Fun Run in our local area.

“I am not a visionary myself, but I like to work with visionaries. I love to create a framework that enables people to do great work.”

Later we will look at how such people co-ordinate people’s strengths to achieve a goal. Before then, however, let’s explore another step taken by great teams.

Clarity

Great teams have crystal clear goals. They make sure everybody knows what mountain they are climbing, why they are climbing it and when they will reach the summit. They also make sure they are climbing the right mountain.

Good leaders continually communicate the team’s goals. Different leaders may use different frameworks, but many of these embody some of the themes mentioned earlier.

They may communicate the What, Why, How, Who and When. 

They may communicate the team’s story, strategy and road towards achieving the picture of success.

They may communicate the organisation’s purpose, principles and the required professional standards.

Good leaders then invite people to reflect and decide if they want to opt in. If so, they make clear contracts with people about their best contributions towards achieving the goals.

There are many models for making this happen. You can read about the super teams approach, for example, via the following link.

https://www.thepositiveencourager.global/the-super-teams-approach/

You will have your own approach to ensuring that everybody is clear on the team’s goals. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme.

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. How can you establish clarity?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things that people can do to ensure everybody in the team is clear on the What, Why, How, Who and When.

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Competence

Great teams implement the right strategy with the right people in the right way. They make sure their people have the right competence – including the right character – required to deliver the results.

Such teams are made up of people who have similarity of spirit and diversity of strengths. Diversity of spirit is a recipe for disaster.

Attitude is non-negotiable, but they want characters, not clones. People will express the team’s principles in many different ways, but they must always demonstrate high professional standards.

Spirit gets people so far. But it is the diversity of strengths that enables the team to produce something special when it matters.

Character provides the bedrock. You may need people who are positive and professional. They may also need to be resilient and good at encouraging others, especially when times get tough.

Competence is also crucial. You will need to have people who demonstrate the capability – the strategic awareness and skills – required to deliver the goods.

Different teams need people to demonstrate different kinds of character and competence to reach their chosen goals. Looking at your own team, try completing the following exercises.

Character 

The specific kinds of character traits we need people
in the team to demonstrate to reach our goals are:

To …

To …

To …

Competence

The specific kinds of competence we need people in the
team as a whole to demonstrate to reach our goals are:

To …

To …

To …

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. If you wish, try tackling the further exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to make sure they have the right competence – including the right character – in the team.

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Contracting 

Great teams make clear contracts with people about their specific contributions towards achieving the picture of success. There are many models for making this happen.

One approach is to communicate the team’s aims and strategy. It is to describe the following things.

The Picture of Success

The Specific Goals: The specific
results we aim to achieve are:
 

 

1) To … 

For example:

To …

To …

To …

 

2) To …

For example:

To …

To …

To …

 

3) To …

For example:

To …

To …

To … 

The Specific Strategies: The specific strategies
we aim to follow to achieve these results are:

 

1) To …

For example:

To …

To …

To …

 

2) To …

For example:

To …

To …

To …

 

3) To …

For example:

To …

To …

To …

People in the team are then invited to clarify their contributions towards achieving the goals. There are many frameworks for making this happen. Here is one approach.

Each person does some pre-work – such as covering the themes shown below – and then meets with their manager. This meeting leads to them making clear contracts about their agreed contribution towards achieving the goals.

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Imagine you are leading your present team at work. You will, of course, have your own model for making clear contracts about each person’s goals.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to ensure they make clear contracts in the team.

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Consistency

Great teams get the right balance between consistency and creativity. People keep doing the right things in the right way every day. They are then more likely to get the right results.

Such teams encourage people to play to their strengths. They put people in the places where they can do what they do best.

Good co-ordinators, for example, often ask the following questions when exploring how to organise the team to achieve its goals.

What are the real results we want to achieve? What is the picture of success?  

What are each person’s strengths? How can we co-ordinate people’s strengths to achieve the picture of success?

What are the other necessary tasks that are left over? How can we make sure we get these done to achieve the picture of success?

Good teams manage by outcomes, rather than by tasks. At the same time, however, they encourage people to follow the agreed strategies.

There are many models for making this happen. One approach is to gather people together and invite them to complete the following exercise.

Consistency

The specific things we can do to pursue the agreed strategies in a
consistent way and work towards achieving the picture of success are:

To …

To …

To …

The specific things we can do to proactively report our progress on pursuing
these strategies and 
working towards achieving the picture of success are:

To …

To …

To …

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. If you wish, try tackling the further exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to deliver the right levels of consistency as a team.

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Creativity

Great teams encourage people to consistently do good work. They also enable them to, when appropriate, use their creativity to achieve the goals.

They put the right people in the right places in the team. People are then more likely to deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs. They are also more likely to make creative breakthroughs when it matters.

Great teams encourage people to play to their strengths. People are then more likely to have the radar and repertoire required to deliver the right results. What does this mean?

Peak performers have great personal radar in their potential field. They see patterns quickly and also see the potential picture of success. They seem to know what will happen before it happens.

They have a wide professional repertoire. They have the strengths, strategies and skills required to deliver the goods. They then employ their radar and repertoire to pursue their chosen strategy towards achieving the picture of success. 

Great teams get the right balance between consistency and creativity. There are many models for making this happen.

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to add that touch of creativity.

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Concrete Results

Great teams always do the basics and, when appropriate, add the brilliance. They do what is required to deliver the required concrete results.

Such teams ensure that people keep on track. Some arrange monthly sessions when each person or each small team within the team reports their progress towards achieving the goals. They invite people to make presentations on the following themes.

Successes In The Past Month

The specific things I/We have delivered in the
past month towards achieving the goals are:

*

*

*

Successes In The Next Month

The specific things I/We aim to deliver in the
next month towards achieving the goals are:

*

*

*

Specific Other Topics

The specific other topics I/We would like to highlight – such as
positive suggestions, solutions, challenges and any other issues
– that are relevant in terms of working towards the goals are:

*

*

*

People keep performing superb work and find solutions to challenges. They do whatever is necessary to deliver the goods. Sometimes they also add that touch of class to reach the goals. 

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to achieve the picture of success.

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Co-ordination Again

Let’s return to the beginning. Great teams recognise that co-ordination is crucial. Every fine team I have known has had a good co-ordinator.

Such people make things happen. They are like sheepdogs and ensure people work well together towards achieving the agreed picture of success.

They are especially good with knowledge workers who may fall into following their own agendas. Approaching such a person who may have gone a bit wayward, they say things like:

“How are things going? Remember the agreed picture of success? Is that something you still want to contribute towards achieving?

“If so, can you get back to me as to how you would like to continue contributing towards achieving the goals? Then I will provide the support you need. Can you get back to me within the next day?”

Like sheepdogs, they are friendly, but sometimes bare their teeth. They get away with it because the team members respect them and also know they can be tough.

Good co-ordinators get some early wins, rather than embark on long process analyses. Success breeds success. It also buys time to tackle the more long-standing challenges.

They keep in touch with the leader and see their role as being proactive, rather than that of being a glorified progress chaser. They have regular meetings with the leader to look ahead to the next week, the next month and the next quarter. They clarify the challenges facing the team and agree on the potential solutions.

Good leaders and co-ordinators get their act together. They know that clarity is the starting point for any venture. But co-ordination is the bridge to producing concrete results.

“I did not understand the role of co-ordinator when it was first mentioned to me,” said one leader.

“Looking back at my earlier career, however, I realised my best work had been when I had someone who made things happen.

“They are now the first person I look for when taking over a new team. A good co-ordinator is worth their weight in gold.”

Great teams also build in an ongoing co-ordination process. They ensure that people proactively keep others informed about their progress and future plans. People can then keep combining their efforts to ensure the team achieves its goals.

Imagine you are leading your present team at work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things that people can do to keep co-ordinating their efforts to achieve the picture of success.

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