Leadership Lesson: The life and death of teams in good and bad times

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on August 30, 2020

Irresistible magnet. Good leadership pulls good people into the organization and onto great teams. Conversely (no surprise), poor leadership is repulsive and repels people off of teams and out of the organization. 

So, how do strong leaders build strong teams, and how do weak leaders destroy teams?

“People do not leave companies, they leave bad management.” – Gallup Corporation

Giving life to teams

Teams are a living organism and thrive on the positive qualities of good leaders. What are those most desirable characteristics? The top business media mentions these most frequently:

Authentic – being trustworthy and trusting, honest, candid, authentic, dependable, available, respectful accountable, and authentic in all interactions – inside and outside the organization, ethical, treats others equally.

Communicative – providing information, not secretive, honestly sharing the good and the not-so-good, frank, offering feedback via talking, speaking, writing, receptive, and being a good listener. 

Positive – optimistic, supportive, providing spirit, overcoming obstacles, definitive, bold, way-shower, nurturing, enthusiastic, persuasive, confident, calm under pressure, and celebrating the achievements of others.

Expectant – leading the team to achieve good goals, wanting positive results, exhibiting and holding high standards for self and others, innovative, creative, honoring teams more than individuals on teams.

Inspiring – visionary, leads by example, an initiator, engaging others, people builders, strategic, developing a flow of new products, long and short term focus, and team builders.

Taking life from teams

The fastest way to kill a good team is to disregard it – even if you built the team. And, then simply be a poor leader: be self-centered, indecisive, lethargic, stay in the limelight, demand too much, micromanage, lack competence, and blame everyone. More:

  1. Avoid high-level purpose, lack vision, muddy the mission, build a toxic culture, and do not involve the team in strategy and goals. Just keep the pressure on for financial results.
  2. Delegate without reason, expectations, responsibility and accountability. Let the team flounder and then assign blame. Do not build people – take credit for their wins. 
  3. Do not value key performers nor get too close to them. Avoid personal connections because your own faults could be seen and that is humiliating to your ego.
  4. Have nonstop, meandering meetings without agenda, full involvement by others, outcomes, and solutions and plans. Create chaos and indecision.
  5. Develop massive directives, stamp out inventiveness, avoid getting inputs from teams, generate an inefficient bureaucracy.

Frankly, it takes more effort to kill a good team than to build one. And, it is costly.

The bottom line

Simple. Be a good leader and build good teams. Be a bad leader and kill good teams (remember that a bad leader is not truly a leader). The choice is yours.

Click here to read this article on the Phoenix Business Journal site.