By Blair Singer
In a time when pressure is rising, when economic uncertainty seems to be everywhere, when families, communities, companies, nations and regions seem to be battered by never-ending waves of change, turmoil, adversity and challenge, it seems people will either prosper or become a casualty to the onslaught of an accelerated and changing world.
In business, individuals and teams that flourish and create opportunities out of challenges are rare. Most people run for cover at the first sight of trouble, a sign of our cultural inability to stand in the heat of conflict, change, challenge and confrontation. So, what is “standing in the heat”? It is facing obstacles either mental, physical or emotional that appear to be either impossible or too difficult to achieve and dauntlessly prevailing against them. It is weathering the storm of pressure, stress, fear or uncertainty. It is becoming a person who sees opportunities in challenges, and understands the true power of conquering the “heat”. Throughout my career, my studies and my life I have never ever seen a great person, team or group that did not become one without being under PRESSURE. I am sure you have been there. Everyone is stressed. Deadlines are right around the corner. Everyone is working late. Maybe there is a shortage of funds for your project. Management is on your case. The customers are threatening. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Your team is stretched, yet you know deep inside that if you can get them to step up to the line, stand in the heat, you will make it.
The reality is that if a team is to respond to the challenge and take on the adversity in true warrior style, they will not only make it, they could possibly blow the doors off of any accomplishment achieved so far!
Keys to Creating a Championship Team
Here are some strategies that if followed can steer your team to the reaches of true legendary status. It is not easy, but it is the best way I know to get you through the heat.
• CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS – any accomplishment big or small must be celebrated and acknowledged. This builds a habit of congratulations and an expectation of success.
• CREATE, NURTURE AND DEFEND with all of your might a Code of Conduct/Honour that creates an environment that supports responsible behaviour. This code must nurture and respect the spirit but at the same time must not allow sloppy or mediocre standards.
• DEBRIEF – There must be a habit of debriefing early and often with the team. This means calling a “time-out” frequently to check in with the team, make corrections and allow them to blow off a little steam.
• SET ACHIEVABLE GOALS – make sure that you take the project or set of tasks and break them into short duration goals. Most people cannot fathom weeks, months and years in terms of an end point for a task. (Most cannot think past lunch!!) Make sure that you get the team pointed toward end lines that are close enough that their minds can say, “I can see myself completing that.”
• Along the way LOOK FOR HEROES. There will be people who will accomplish little victories along the way. They may not be obvious, but the behaviour that these people demonstrate will be that of great players.
• KEEP THE ENERGY UP – I used to work for an airfreight trucking company in New Jersey. Every morning the owner would bring in fresh bagels for all the drivers. They loved it!!! When I had my own trucking operation I would surprise the crew on a tough night with pizza and sodas in the middle of the evening. It did wonders for morale and it was FUN!
• You as the team leader must STAND IN THE HEAT WITH THEM. Your willingness to slug it out with them is infinitely more encouraging than them working late into the night while you are somewhere sipping a martini.
• ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES and to figure out their own solutions. Expect them to make mistakes, but encourage them to keep trying.
• ENCOURAGE THE TEAM – if they stick together, support each other and be accountable, even if they fail, they will emerge on the other side smarter, stronger and more confident to take on the next challenge.
In this day and age, those teams that are able to deal with what I have mentioned here will be the exceptional few, they will be producing results that others will envy. Standing in the heat in any situation in any part of your life will give you the ability to quickly distance yourself from the rest of the competition.