Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

First Step to Success: Build the Right Team

First Step to Success: Build the Right TeamSuccess doesn't come about overnight or all at once. Like a home, it needs a foundation, brick by brick, to form a stable structure that can support the weight of a business over time. The first building block to success, then, is building the right team. To draw another analogy, just like in sports, recruiting the top people to join your team is of paramount importance. You need a wide range of talents to make up a well-rounded team. You may be looking for attributes like: plays well with others, shares ideas openly in group settings, values transparency and aligns around a shared vision, individuals who bring you opportunities for growth, and down to earth teammates who celebrate victories together in an atmosphere of positivity.

Taking a Look at Yourself

Looking for these qualities and more when considering building your dream team is priority #1. However, before you even think about the types of people you want to work for you, the first step should be to look inward and ask yourself "am I the type of boss people want to work for?". Do you treat people fairly? Do you give your team the tools they need to be empowered and get the job done from within or do you control every aspect of the project? Are you transparent in your expectations? Do you foster a culture that is supportive and positive, or one of competition and rivalry? Do you have your team's best interests at heart? What do you think people say about you when you're not around?

The foundation of exceptional leadership lies in putting the needs of others first, says the Jack Welch Management Institute. You have to fight for the resources your team needs to do its job effectively and efficiently, lobbying for the raises and bonuses that your employees deserve. We're not saying this has to be a culture of "everybody gets a trophy." Rather, what we mean is, those who truly deliver on stellar performance will get rewarded for their efforts. Transparency in the workplace ensures that each teammate knows where he or she stands.

Upgrade Your Team

True leaders relentless upgrade their team, utilizing every encounter as a unique opportunity to coach, evaluate and build up self-confidence, according to Inc. Just like in sports, the team with the best players wins. Their leaders must put the time and energy into what famed business exec Jack Welch calls "people development" -- something that should be honed daily and integrated into all aspects of your interactions. You as the leader have to recognize and acknowledge your team's hard work if you want to encourage peak performance and instill confidence in the very core of your team.

Live and Breathe the Vision

As the owner or manager, you know what the vision of your company is. You invented it, you grew it, you live for it. That's not enough. You also have to make sure the people who work for you not only know that vision as well but live and breathe it every day. Not everyone will buy into this. It takes a special breed of person to truly embrace the goals you've set for yourself and help you realize them. Effective leaders, then, will cast the vision of the future and fuel that passion in the people who work for them. You should constantly be talking about that vision, reinforcing it with rewards in order to light a fire that will help them accomplish even the most difficult of assignments.

Follow Your Gut -- Even if People Hate You for It

People in a position of power -- whether that be the president, a coach or a parent -- can't be friends with everyone all of the time. They are in a position of power to make the tough calls that aren't always popular but that serve the greater good. Leaders will bring the courage to make gut calls, regardless of what team members think. Jack Welch goes on to say in his book Winning that "tough calls spawn complaints and resistance." Your job as a leader is to listen and explain yourself clearly but then start moving forward rather than dwelling.

Clear, sharp, definitive decision making is what you will be judged on as a leader. Because the choices you make will determine the overall success of your organization, it's you who will ultimately have to answer for the success or failure of your company. Transparency, trust and clear vision: if you employ these things, the right team will stand behind you every time.

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One Key to Your Success: Build Team Camaraderie

One Key to Your Success: Build Team CamaraderieHaving a cohesive unit in the workplace ensures team camaraderie and, ultimately, success on any project you may take on. "It takes a village" isn't just a saying that applies to raising children. It also applies in the workplace, on every level of management. As the CIO, it's your job to build, encourage and foster that camaraderie so that it infiltrates every sector of your team. That's how goals are met, marathons won, and deals made. It's about more than the end game, though. It's more important to have a cohesive team working in unison like a well-oiled machine through every stage in the process. When a team is disjointed, any bump in the road could derail the train. When acting in unison, a team can weather any storm.

According to LinkedIn, employees who work in an environment marked by friendship and laughter will be more creative and less stressed, which equals higher productivity and increased innovation. In addition to that, collaboration in pursuit of a common goal bridges gaps and makes people feel more connected to one another.

So, how can you go about building team camaraderie?

Address conflict head on: Most people think that if they can just avoid conflict and keep the peace with other members of the group, they can avoid those uncomfortable disagreements that can damage a team. However, just the opposite is true. Conflict that's not resolved properly will fester over time, causing far more damage to the team than if it were discussed head on earlier.

Respect the differences of your team: Everyone brings something unique to the team dynamic. Not everyone will be good at leading a meeting, and not everyone will be good at strategizing. The important thing is that every team member brings his own strengths to the table. As the CIO, it's important for you to recognize the value each person walks into that conference room with. When you value a team member for his strengths rather than weaknesses, this bolsters the strengths of everyone else in the room.

Let each team member own their portion of the project: Every project, group and team needs a leader, that's a fact. However, when that leader tries to own every aspect of the goal and has trouble trusting others or delegating tasks, the rest of the team feels under-valued, under-appreciated, and under-utilized. Delegating properly means you are giving a piece of the project away to each team member, entrusting them to follow through and own that portion of the responsibility. Your team members will then feel like they're integral to the outcome, rather than just a cog in the machine.

Involve the team in something other than work: Team building begins with people, and when you foster that basic desire to learn about one another and motivate one another, you can expect much better results when it comes time to actually work. Forget the competitions that pit employee against employee to achieve the highest sales for the month. One way to do that is to involve your team in some kind of office goal, such as a health or fitness plan. Give each member of the team a step tracker and reward the person with the most steps taken each month. A simple goal...a clear objective...a healthy way to encourage team work...often this is the ice breaker that allows you to bring your group together.

Break out of the norm: Teachers do it all the time when their kids need to get out of the classroom setting and into an adaptive and interactive learning experience: they take a field trip. Your team needs a break too. You don't always have to hold stifled meetings in the board room. Take them out for coffee, treat them to lunch, or suggest a casual meeting outside on a nice day under a shady tree. Sometimes a change of scenery can go a long way toward re-charging everyone's batteries, inspiring a new line of thinking, or sparking a creative idea.

Celebrate successes: Just like winning a race you've been working hard for with a few of your peers, sharing team successes on a project that benefits the company is just as important. Foster this sense of connection and commitment between peers after facing a common challenge, working together to achieve success, and coming out on top. Sharing those stories and recounting how everyone overcame obstacles to achieve the desired result is a huge boost to morale.

In the end, it's all about bringing positivity to the team and fostering an environment of open collaboration, says the Harvard Business Review.  As CIO, you can achieve that by:

  • Maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Supporting one another.
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes.
  • Inspiring each other's work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the team's work.
  • Treating everyone with respect, gratitude, integrity and trust.

Remember: it doesn't matter how smart, talented or driven you are, says Inc.com, your organization's success ultimately rests with your ability to build, nurture and inspire a great team.

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