Five Steps to Lead a Team to Its Highest Potential

Have you ever been part of a team that seemed to be swaying in the wind? It can be disconcerting to feel that a team is moving in a direction that you are unclear. Team members deserve to know where a team is headed, why they are pursuing a certain route and what roles they will play. A team that is not given all the facts will never be able to perform at its highest level.

I have been working with a team that has gone through a lot of change within the organization. You might say it has suffered a trauma and is trying to regain its bearings. Key leaders are leaving and a new team of leaders needs to be built. On one hand it is unsettling to face so much change at once. Yet to look at it through a different lens is to see immense opportunity.

To tackle a dysfunctional team and kick it into high gear requires intentional actions and decisions. That means having a plan to restructure and lead differently. Rebuilding a team is no small feat but can result in a strong outcome if purposeful strategy is utilized.

Five Steps To Lead A Team To Its Highest Potential

1. Choose Strong Leaders

To begin the process of building a high potential team it is critical to put in place the best leadership possible. That means selecting leaders who have a track record of being effective communicators as well as influential visionaries. These leaders need to have the capability of creating a big picture view and skills of sharing that vision with excitement and clarity. In addition, it is important to cultivate a leadership pipeline to meet future needs.

2. Understand Your “Why”

Teams that understand why they are performing certain tasks will always execute in a better way. Purpose empowers team members to work towards a common goal and often will help members attain a higher level of achievement. I have seen this happen by:

Organizing town meetings explaining why a certain direction was chosen.
Specifically sharing how each person fits into the greater goal.
Listening for areas of confusion or concern.
Taking teams to visit customer establishments to see how their work impacts others.

3. Build Trust And Rapport

The first rung on a team building ladder is developing trust among everyone. Without trust there is no transparency and without transparency there is no commitment. For teams to be highly functional, members need to be able to share their truths and express their views with safety. This type of environment creates camaraderie and rapport. It enables real progress and growth.

4. Assign Responsibilities and Roles Clearly

In order for the members of a team to perform at their highest levels it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the expectations for everyone. For this to happen leaders must prepare and share job responsibilities. Clarity begins with:

- Clearly written out job responsibilities.
- Team members meeting with their supervisors on the expectations.
- Asking for input and suggestions to make sure teams know exactly what their tasks are and who they should be interacting with.

5. Become An Accountable Team

Ultimately for a team to be its best, each person must own their part of the process. Holding ourselves accountable and holding our colleagues accountable enables a team to make mistakes, take risks and be supportive of one another. An accountable team can reach its highest potential because everyone has a stake in its success.

How have you led a team to reach its highest potential? What strategies have you used to bring out the best in each member?

Related: Four Ways to Develop Emerging Leaders