Last week, sports fans fixated on the NFL Draft. Who would their favorite teams pick? Where would “Johnny Football” Manziel and other famous (and infamous) college players end up playing? This spectacle of the NFL Draft demonstrates the two essential elements that any team— especially a corporate team—must have to be successful.
C-level executives and sales managers rely on these values intentionally or instinctively to get the most out of their employees. As the draft unfolded, I also heard these elements mentioned frequently at Leadercast, an inspiring and enlightening conference for those motivated to become leaders worth following.
The idea behind Leadercast is somewhat like the NFL Draft. It’s a stage for looking beyond who we are now to see how to maximize our team’s talent and performance. We see different routes to that destination. These two elements that can help us find the best way to team success.
1. The First Element: Choice There is no NFL Draft without choice, and with choice comes power. The team that holds the No. 1 draft pick can choose any player, and with that comes the power to pluck a gifted athlete of great talent and specific training who just might turn around the team’s fortunes. Will he deliver or go bust? Risk and reward are why fans love to watch the draft. Choice is a crossroads where you go in or bow out. As a sports agent who negotiated hundreds of contracts, I learned to quickly and strategically present choices. Choice helped establish common ground between my client and the other side and sent a message of good faith bargaining. Choice implies a buy-in, and that’s what makes it a key element for successful teams. We’ve all been stuck with assignments that we had no choice over—or we only said yes out of duty.
We gut these out because we have to, not because we want to. But when there is a genuine opportunity to choose, each of us has the power to participate in our destiny. By offering choice to your team, they are more likely to invest themselves into your mission, and give even more. At Leadercast, well-known preacher Andy Stanley suggested that if you want to become a “beyond-you leader,” give decision-making power to those whom you lead. “You decide,” are the two of the most empowering words a leader can voice. It’s not an easy phrase for most of us. It goes against our natural impulse to control. The follow up is tough, too. Instead of expecting the team to work for you, make a different choice, Stanley suggests. “What can I do to help?” is a fantastic question that underscores the leader’s support for a team member who is facing choices and decisions that will develop his or her own leadership potential. A leader who wants to build a loyal, productive corporate team will push himself or herself past the control freak stage. This leader will honor team members by offering choice and supporting the outcome. He or she will “empty the cup” into others around them.
2. The Second Element: Trust It’s hard to give up control and choice—maybe impossible, really—without some degree of trust. At the NFL Draft, each team has the ultimate decision maker who says yes on the draft selections. The owner and front office have decided that this person can be trusted to pull the trigger, even with the future of the franchise seemingly at stake with every draft pick. At Leadercast, Dr. Henry Cloud, a leadership expert, clinical psychologist and author, pointed out that the most influential leaders are trusted leaders. A leader knows that the team members are always judging whether the leader is for or against them. Trust is built when people feel connected, when team members feel like they are heard and understood. While trust should be reinforced in the workplace, it can often be developed offsite at corporate team building events. Because it’s not enough to feel that you understand them; they have to know that you understand them. Only then does a leader create an integrated wake—like the water behind a boat—between results and relationships. Trust streamlines the relationships that lead to results.
Your Game Changer Takeaways for Successful Corporate Team Building Events
Whether you are holding a corporate team building event or establishing a new culture in your organization, make sure to weave in elements of choice as a way to empower those who work on the front lines of your business. Don’t confuse authority with competence; offer to support as an authentic way to build trust and understanding with your team. Managing relationships leads to results beyond what the goals you would set on your own. People know and can do more than they think. That includes people at the top.
We work to help maximize your leadership potential and performance through corporate team building events and other tools. Contact us for a unique plan tailored to your field and needs. We are your partner in building trust within your team.
Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.