The Difference between a Great Team and an Elite Team

Something happened at my company three weeks ago that confirmed we are moving in the right direction. And it has nothing to do with our financial performance.

In our daily morning standup meeting, a founding employee announced she was pregnant with her first baby.

The reaction from the rest of the employees told me everything I needed to know. There were smiles, shouts of congratulations, clapping, and something even more powerful, tears.

I looked around and saw many of my employees crying for joy over this exciting news.

The response confirmed something I had been feeling for a long time; we were becoming more like family than a company. There was a bond developing that was special, and it was something I hadn’t sensed since I left the military.

We were becoming more like family than a company. Click To Tweet

Building a business for the past five years has felt a little like us against the world, but lately, I feel like the world doesn’t stand a chance.

My recent podcast guest, Dr. Larry Widman, confirmed what I suspected. My employees were displaying one of the essential characteristics of an elite team – love.

Let me explain.

Larry is a high-performance psychiatrist and an elite mindset coach. He works with CEOs, professional athletes, Olympians, and NCAA teams to develop the mental skills and mindset to push performance boundaries.

He said something on the podcast that stood out.

He explained that love plays a vital role in building an elite team. And this is consistent across every type of organization, from Navy Seals to NCAA National Champions.

It’s all about relationships, connections, and love.

The best teams move at the speed of trust. Click To Tweet

The best teams move at the speed of trust. They are willing to fight for the person on their right and their left because they care deeply about them.

Love is the one consistent ingredient that helps propel a team from great to elite.

So the question I would have for you today is, where are you in your organization?

Are your employees in it for just a paycheck or do they have deep relationships at work? Are you moving at the speed of trust?

If you’re not exploring how love can boost your performance, you’re missing out. You’re never going to have an elite team without the power of relationships, trust, and love.

The elite teams, the best of the best, the national champions, and those dominating their markets are the ones who demonstrate love for each other. They are the ones fighting shoulder-to-shoulder for each other every day.

If you want to look inside an elite team’s culture, listen to my podcast interview with Dr. Larry Widman.

I have the watch

 

P.S. I understand many who are reading this have bosses who don’t understand the value of people and relationships. For those of you with bosses like this, I am offering a new service. For just $10, I will anonymously mail a copy of my book, “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following,” to your boss with a personal note. Click here and enter the discount code BOSS at checkout.

 

 

 

 

[Photo credit Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos/Getty Images]

Spirit of the Squirrel

Did you know that squirrels don’t hibernate in the winter?

That’s why they work so hard in the fall.

Food is scarce in the colder months so they prepare by finding and burying large stores of acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts.

So, what does this have to do with leadership?

Everything.

You see, squirrels don’t see their hard work in fall as hard work at all. They see it as important and worthwhile. If they don’t put in this effort, they will starve in the winter.

The spirit of the squirrel is this – worthwhile work.

Worthwhile work is doing something because you know it’s important. You know how your work affects the big picture so you are motivated to get it done right. It’s a simple concept I learned years ago in a book called Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.

Worthwhile work is doing something because you know it's important. Click To Tweet

The problem is that most bosses don’t take time to help employees connect their work to the bigger picture.

I saw this at one manufacturing plant I led when I first arrived. We were producing 15,000-volt circuit breakers for electric utilities to ensure the power stayed on.

When I first asked employees what they did, they would tell me they drilled holes, ran a CNC machine, or plated parts.

Management hadn’t connected their work to the bigger picture.

As far as they knew, they were just making widgets in a factory.

So, we set about to change that by teaching and showing employees how the products they produced were vitally important to the electrical grid and what would happen if there was a failure of one of our products in the field.

It didn’t happen overnight, but in time, the employees at this plant began to understand that their work was important, their work was worthwhile. There was pride in what they were doing.

Instead of making widgets, they were helping keep the lights on.

Like a squirrel in the fall, their motivation changed. Their work was now connected to the bigger picture. They realized how important their work really was.

I tell this story because I was reminded of this simple concept in a recent podcast episode I did with Max Hourigan.

Max is a company commander in the Army National Guard.

His company of infantrymen was called up to respond to the COVID crisis. His entire team of soldiers was converted into COVID testers. They were trained to become medical personnel and to man mobile testing centers during the initial wave of the pandemic.

When I asked Max how his soldiers responded to being asked to go to the front lines of a global pandemic and act as medical personnel, his answer sounded familiar.

He said – at first they were concerned. They were worried about their health and that of their families. Being on the front lines meant possibly being exposed to this deadly virus. They also had apprehensions about being trained to conduct medical tests.

Over time, though, they all realized how their work impacted the bigger picture.

They realized they were helping to stop the spread of this virus.

They were proud of what they were doing.

Their work was important. They were doing worthwhile work.

The questions I have for you are this – Have you connected your team’s work to the bigger picture? Do they feel they are doing worthwhile work?

Have you connected your team’s work to the bigger picture? Click To Tweet

If you haven’t, you need to start today.

Connecting employees’ work to the bigger picture changes their perspective.

Nobody wants to be just a cog in the wheel. They want to know the work they are doing has meaning and is important.

Try this and let me know how it goes.

Deep Leadership Podcast

PS. I recommend subscribing to the Deep Leadership podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Don’t Let an Arsonist Burn your Company Down

You’ve probably heard this leadership quote before:

“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time”

This comes from Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

While most leaders understand this basic principle, they forget about another.

There are some employees who don’t care about rowing – they just want to drill holes in the bottom of your boat.

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe but…there are certain toxic personality types who thrive on chaos.

There are certain toxic personality types who thrive on chaos. Click To Tweet

Pete Havel, author of The Arsonist in the Office, calls them arsonists.

Who are office arsonists?

According to Havel, “An arsonist is somebody who has a little bit of power that has the ability to use that power against the organization.”

These are people who are wired differently than everybody else.

Arsonists in the traditional sense are motivated by finances, ego, desire for attention, adrenaline rushes, hero complexes, or revenge.  Arsonists in organizations operate under the exact same motivations.

So, how do you deal with these toxic employees?

The same way we dealt with a fire on a submarine.

Let me explain.

fire on a submarine is one of the most dangerous things that can happen.

Smoke can quickly fill compartments and asphyxiate sailors. The heat and flames can spread to weapons, volatile materials, and critical systems creating catastrophic damage.

A fire can quickly destroy a submarine if not extinguished immediately.

That’s why we were trained to ignore our natural instincts to move away from the fire and, instead, run towards the fire to put it out as quickly as possible.

In the same way, you can’t ignore a toxic employee.

You can’t turn a blind eye and hope the problem gets better.

You need to confront the issue and deal with the toxic employee before they get out of control.

You need to deal with toxic employees before they get out of control. Click To Tweet

Because just like a fire on a submarine, a single toxic employee can destroy your culture and your organization.

Don’t believe me?

Listen to my interview with Pete and you will hear a cautionary tale of his experience in a company that let a toxic employee run wild.

It didn’t end well for him or the company he worked for.

So, if you really want to lead your company well, get everyone rowing in the same direction AND deal swiftly with those employees who are trying to drill a hole in your boat.

Deep Leadership PodcastI talk about this issue in a lot more detail on the latest episode of the Deep Leadership podcast.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like this leadership concept and you want to learn more, get a copy of my latest book – I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following. It’s filled with 23 practical ideas like this on how you can become a more effective leader.

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