Building a team is a complicated, multi-faceted, fluid process. A process is a series of steps leading to a desired result. Therefore, one must have an idea of those results, the goals, to be achieved in order to build the process. I have once heard that if you don’t know where you are going, you will never know when you get there.
Over the past few years I have had the task of building a team to perform a specific role. The actual role is not important for the purpose of this discussion, yet I want to develop general principles for you. Actually, this process is to be divided into steps that we are all familiar with.
The four seasons for building a team:
I honestly cannot tell you how long it will take and how long each season of this process will take. As a result, it depends on many factors; too many to be enumerated here. To exemplify this thought there was a sign on a Boston Highway during the “Big Dig” that said:
“If Rome was built in a day, we would have hired their contractors.”
In order to build a team, there must be a leader. If there is no one following this person, one is not leading. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “In order to be a leader, a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.”
In my mind, the best kind of leader is a servant leader.
The servant leadership concept has been around for a long time. It was only in 1970 that Robert K. Greenleaf wrote extensively about it. He said, “The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types [of leadership]. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature…The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
In the Christian realm, the servant-leadership model focuses on this popular scripture reference:
“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)
Winter is an “intuitive” season. It is typically cold and not much physically gets accomplished, but it is a time of thinking and planning. In team building we set the initial goals of the team and make decisions on the types of people to be on the team and look for the best candidates. If you don’t know what goals you want the team to achieve, you won’t know who can help get it done. Not everyone will have all of the skills that are needed, but together it can happen. That is why it has been said that there is no “I” in “team”. Teaching, direction, and serving must come from the leader.
Spring is the “get started” season. We are out of the gate with enthusiasm and energy. It is a time of preparation. Just as the farmer prepares the soil, purchases and plants the seeds, and fertilize and water. So too, the leader and the team gets started, establishes the metrics necessary to get to the goals, and sets up a system of accountability. The servant leader needs to be accountable to the team and the team accountable to the leader. Fertilizing is providing the team with the tools that they need to be successful. If each member of the team is successful in their role, the team will be successful.
Summer is the “meet your wall” or “life happens” season. This is where the challenges really start to happen and may even be seen to increase. Some are expected, but many are not. One may not see the results as they were anticipated but it is a time not to abandon, but to tweak the process as needed. This may be a time where members of the team quit, but they can be replaced. It is a time for strengthening, refocusing, and adjusting. Those who quit never really know how close they were to success and persistence in the face of challenges is necessary.
Maya Angelou, a writer, said “It you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
As one would expect, fall is the “harvest” season. This is where one starts to reap the rewards of the team’s efforts. The goal is for the team to become a finely tuned, well-oiled machine. Will it need check-ups and “servicing”? Of course; if there is no change, everything will become stagnant.
Although often falsely attributed to Albert Einstein as widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
Building a team, it will take seasons, but the harvest awaits and is worth it.
This author has written a book The Process of Becoming Successful, Develop the Passion to Win
This author also has information of giving hope to patients and families dealing with cancer and chronic illnesses