The Art of Strengths Coaching

T is for Building A Team, A Club And A Dynasty

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Imagine you have been invited to lead an ailing organisation. You have met the key stakeholders and agreed on the picture of success. Your brief is:

To get some quick successes

To shift the culture to one that is committed to success

To achieve sustainable success.

There are many models for achieving these goals. One approach, which is borrowed from sports, is to: ‘Build a team, then a club and then a dynasty.’

Let’s explore how you can make this happen in an organisation.

Building A
Successful Team

Your first job is simple but challenging. Put together a team that delivers some quick wins and reassures your key stakeholders. As one football manager said:

“First you must build a team that delivers results, otherwise you will get the sack. Then you will never have the chance to build a club and a dynasty.”

Kate, the MD of a mobile phone company, explained her approach to making this happen.

“I needed to turn things around quickly. Our company was failing badly. Not because of our products – which were similar to those of our competitors – but because of a terrible service culture.

“Coming into the business, I inherited a senior team of poor performing old-style cops. Three of them told me they were underpaid. Two others greeted me by giving excuses for not reaching their monthly targets.

“Certainly I encourage healthy debate, but it is vital that people take responsibility. Within three months I had replaced those five people with leaders who embodied the service ethic needed in the business.

“The next step was to build on the positive people in the organisation. These would form my team for making things happen. My predecessor maintained that the staff were useless, but I decided to find out for myself.

“During the first 2 months I visited all our High Street stores and met all the staff on road shows. Most had never met the boss before, let alone talked over coffee or lunch.

“During the visits I identified over 100 people who showed the spirit needed to rejuvenate the company. Each was co-opted onto project teams targeted with improving customer service.

“Sales picked-up and we began exceeding our monthly targets. My bosses liked what they saw, which gave me the power to embark on radically overhauling the culture.”

Different people build successful teams in different ways. The key, however, is to ensure they deliver success. You will do this in your own way.

Imagine you are taking over an organisation. How can you quickly get the right people in the right places and help them to get the right results?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to build a successful team.

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Building A
Successful Club

How can you build the right kind of club – the right kind of culture – across the organisation? Marvin Bower described culture as: ‘The way we do things around here.’

Good leaders build a positive culture in which motivated people can achieve peak performance. They start by giving people context and explaining the big picture.

Some do this by explaining the organisation’s purpose, principles and the positive benefits of achieving the goal. They then invite people to reflect and decide if they want to contribute. So they may say something like the following.

Purpose

The purpose of our organisation is:

To  

The picture of success we want to achieve –
which is an expression of this purpose – is:

To

To

To

Principles

The principles – the Dos and Don’ts – we want
people to follow to achieve the purpose are:

To

To  

To

The Positive Benefits

The positive benefits – for all the stakeholders
– of achieving the picture of success will be: 

To  

To

To

Bearing these things in mind, let us know if you would like to contribute to the culture and help us to achieve success.

Good leaders explain the Dos and Don’ts people can follow to reach the destination. These principles are there for a reason, they are not just the leader’s whim. They explain how following these principles will provide the greatest chance of success.

Such leaders act as good models. They recognise that people will be watching how they behave as leaders – what they do – rather than what they say. They also reward the behaviour they wanted repeated in the organisation.

Kate took this approach with the mobile phone company. She travelled the country holding road shows for the employees. She kept communicating the company’s goals, its achievements in the previous quarter and its plans for the next quarter.

Each team also made presentations. They described their successes in the past quarter and their plans for their next quarter. They also described the support they would like to reach the goals.

Kate introduced a superb induction programme and promoted managers whose teams delivered outstanding service. She also produced a weekly email newsletter that highlighted examples of good service given by people in the company.

Imagine you have taken over an organisation. You have got some quick successes and some of the right team in place. How can you build a successful club by building the desired culture right across the organisation?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to build a successful club.

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Building A
Successful Dynasty

Dynasty is a term used in sports to describe a club that wins trophies year after year. But the concept of building a dynasty can take different forms.

Jim Collins described how some organisations, for example, managed to achieve ongoing success. He outlined the principles they followed in his book Built To Last.

“But haven’t some of the companies failed since the book was published?” somebody may say. Yes, but there is an obvious reason. They often stopped following the principles that had made them great.

Today it is harder to build a dynasty in business. This is because the world is fast moving and ideas can be quickly replicated. It is also because many employees want to develop and move on to other organisations or start their own businesses.

People now talk more about building a positive legacy, rather than a dynasty. Many of the people I mentor, for example, recall their own great experiences in work. Such individuals say some of the following things.

My memories of working at …
are that we had a culture where:

We enjoyed going to work … We were working to achieve an exciting goal … We all knew our parts in achieving the mission … We were encouraged to play to our strengths … We learned how to build great teams … We learned lots of tools for shaping our future careers … We have used much of what we learned in our subsequent careers … We worked hard but we had a ball.

Good leaders often aim to build a successful team, club and dynasty. There are many ways to build a dynasty or a positive legacy. One approach is to build an organisation that achieves ongoing success.

Another approach is to clarify the actual words you want the various stakeholders – such as the employees and customers – to be saying about the organisation. You can then do your best to ensure they say these things. This can create a positive legacy.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to create a dynasty or positive legacy.

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