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Deliver your people from limbo

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Building and leading an effective team require choreographing a complex dance among people, roles and ideas.

Follow these four steps:

Step 1. Promote the team’s mission. One leadership expert says that when he visits a company, he’ll often ask the receptionist about its mission. Invariably, that person will point to a plaque down the hall and say, “It’s over there.”

Everybody on your team, from top to bottom, should be able to describe the team’s mission in plain language.

Step 2. Define roles and responsibilities clearly. If a $10,000 order is awaiting a part, the guy who runs the warehouse needs to know how important his job is. He may think he’s just a nobody who holds onto parts.

Review and update every job description at least once a year, including enough of the “big picture” so that each team member understands how much others are counting on him or her.

Step 3. Keep your team in tight synchronization. When the Loizeaux family signed on to demolish the old Omni Sports Arena in Atlanta, they knew the job needed to be done quickly and without damaging three buildings nearby. They determined that the Omni’s cantilevered roof needed to fall straight down, then three walls had to fall inward and the fourth wall outward.

To pull that off, all the family members had to execute their jobs to perfection. And they did, on July 26, 1997.

Step 4. Remind your stars that they’re part of a team. Although she remains the world’s all-time leading scorer in women’s soccer, Mia Hamm has this to say:

“Soccer is not an individual sport. I don’t score all the goals, and the ones I do score are usually the product of a team effort.

“I don’t keep the ball out of the back of the net on the other end of the field. I don’t plan our game tactics. I don’t wash our training gear … and I don’t make our airline reservations.

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team. I defer to it and sacrifice for it because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”

— Adapted from The Four Elements of Success, Laurie Beth Jones, Thomas Nelson Inc.

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