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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

Who is Your Number One Team?

“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” - Henry Ford

I fell upon this quote this week for two reasons. First, I was preparing for a leadership team retreat and needed a way to sum up the day. Second, the Chicago Cubs appear to be pulling away from the pack to lead their division and into the playoffs.

Both groups—the leadership team and the Chicago Cubs—are on journey that many teams go through. They've gone beyond the idea of just coming together as a group and are now truly working together.

How do you get your team through this journey successfully?

Coming together is the beginning.

All teams begin simply as a group of individuals. How did they get there? Well, they may have just showed up. Maybe it was inherited. The teams who stay in this phase continue to do only that—show up. They arrive at meetings unprepared or do little as a team to address organizational issues. The teams who have moved past this phase have:

  • Defined their team's purpose. When the Cubs won the World Series last year, they knew their purpose. Defining your team's purpose creates focus on the group versus the individual, and helps build a foundation for the team’s existence.

  • They create agreements. Baseball's season is 162 games long. And you're going to have winning streaks and losing streaks. People will get hurt. Successful teams acknowledge these challenges are inevitable and create agreements on the behaviors they will practice to conquer the challenges—no matter what.

Keeping together is progress.

Two key themes come out of the second part of Henry Ford's quote: "Keeping together" and "progress." Keeping together is the goal toward commitment as a team. In order to achieve commitment, we must know what we are trying to achieve and how to get there (or progress). Successful teams do this by:

  • Creating structure. Strategic planning and prioritizing is a critical skill to maintain commitment. Without definition and agreement of priorities, leadership teams fail to create commitment to the team or organization’s purpose.

  • Utilizing metrics. Baseball is full of stats. Create a set of metrics, or a dashboard, that informs the team whether or not they are making progress on those priorities.

Working together is success.

The final part of Ford’s quote gets at a message Patrick Lencioni mentions in his work: You have to make your leadership team your number one team. If team members are protecting their turf or silos exist in the organization, your leadership team isn't working together. They aren't making the leadership team their number one team.

At your next meeting, ask everyone to identify which part of Ford’s quote they see the team living today. If they don't believe they’re sitting with their number one team, back up and utilize the steps above to help them see how working together is success.

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