How to Have Great Teamwork

The Back Page: More On How Good Teams Become Great Teams

So far, in our series on how to good teams become great teams, we've covered these four key components:

a) A clear sense of purpose
b) Motivated team members
c) Determination
d) Gifted team members

This past week, Pete Holzmann wrote to say that God had been teaching him a ton lately -- and most recently, he had appreciated the principles in a book, "Topgrading." It's apparently all about choosing, and coaching, the best players for your work team. Though it's not written from a Christian perspective, necessarily, Pete felt that, if extended into our paradigm, it would offer great help on some 50 different areas of competency. According to Pete, "One of the most valuable little tools it provides is a division of those 50 areas into three categories:

* Weaknesses easily fixed (through education, etc)

* Weaknesses NOT easily fixed, but doable with significant effort

* Weaknesses very difficult if not impossible to fix (without the Lord's intervention)


* How to choose the right people (easily fixed)

* How to be more personable (hard to fix but doable)

* How to be more intelligent (uhhh... that's a toughie!)

Sounds intriguing. (It's _Topgrading_, by Bradford Smart, Copyright 2000 Prentice Hall Press. 403 pages.)

Okay... so we're ready to expand the list. [drum roll] From my perspective, another key principle to turn good teams into great teams involves appropriate leadership.

e) Great teams have great leaders -- If you don't believe this, just study some of the great coaches of the world. I think of Anson Dorrance of the University of North Carolina's women's soccer program. Here's a coach that has *dominated* a sport. Probably no other coach in the history of the universe has so *effectively* captured repeating titles in any other sport in existence. How is it that other great soccer players can assemble great talent, yet come away with mediocre winnings? There's some kind of chemistry present when a great leader steps onto the field with a good team.

So what does Anson do? For one thing, he measures *everything*. His logic is... unless he follows it, no one will focus on improving it. So he has his team members compete in speed races, shoot-outs, and just about every possible soccer skill imaginable. For those of us who work in missions, maybe one parallel would be that we simply meet regularly with our team members to assess how they're doing.

In our own mission, we recently began a top-to-bottom process of asking team leaders to meet with team members on a monthly basis, to focus not only on "job performance" (as cold as that sounds), but also on spiritual walk, relationships, and a dozen other factors. It's taken us a while to implement it, but almost without exception, all the teams which *have* begun the process are reporting *amazing* feedback. One team leader in Asia wrote that although it's "frightful territory" to enter into these "checkpoint" sessions, they indeed are promoting better communication, healthier relationships, and better conflict management.

And for good teams to become great teams, all those factors have to be in place.

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