By now everyone knows that I was a long time athletic coach. I coached Division I Women’s College Basketball for 27 years. Everything I did while coaching was centered around cultivating teams and working with those team dynamics. I’ve now spent the last couple years cultivating team dynamics in corporate America. The way we assemble teams, taking them from point A to point Z, and winning and reaching our goals, is the same in athletics and in corporate America.
First, we need to start out by discussing what it means to cultivate? Cultivating is nurturing, fostering growth, improving, caring for, and refining skills. You may think of fields, plants, flowers, and crops when we talk about cultivating. It’s the same thing when putting together a team, from the beginning of planting season to the end of harvest season, you need to continually tend to your team members. If you’re in a leadership position at any level, this is a crucial skill for you to master.
Here are the three ways to cultivate your team:
1) Give Praise and Encouragement.
Many of my clients struggle with doing this incredibly important task: Giving praise, positive reinforcement, and encouragement. Why do people have such a hard time giving praise and encouragement? Why is it so hard to give someone a pat on the back and say, “Good job?” Nine out of ten leaders say they don’t give praise because this is their employee’s job. They are expected to do a good job and get the work done. Although this is true, don’t you think people would perform a little or even a lot better if they had positive reinforcement, encouragement, and praise on a daily basis? I’m not saying to give praise when it’s not deserved, no blowing smoke, but when you use the formula of 5-to-1 (5 positive reinforcements to one constructive criticism or feedback), you get back great results. Check in with yourself. How much positive reinforcement did you give to your team today? How many pats on the back did you give out today? This is a huge part of how to cultivate a team and individuals.
2) Make Them Feel Valued.
Everyone on your team needs to feel valued. No matter their role on the team, whether they’re the star perform or on the bench, each player is important and needs to feel that value. It’s your job as their leader to ensure they all feel this way. The ON Point Leader will make each person on the team feel valued. This will nurture and cultivate your team dynamics. You’ll get the most out of every one of your team members when you make this happen.
3) Instill Confidence.
Again, as the leader, it’s your responsibility to instill confidence in each and every player on the team. When they feel confident, they will perform better as individuals and as a team.
Although these three factors are vital to cultivating and nurturing your team, before you can do any of this, you’ve got to develop trust, confidence, loyalty, and goodwill amongst your team. If those qualities aren’t present, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get the buy-in from each of your team players. Once you have buy-in from your team, then you can cultivate the team and give them praise, value, and encouragement. When your team members feel appreciated and respected, you’ll get that buy-in. This is your job as an ON Point Leader, to take your people on your team and organization, and cultivate them. This means taking them from where they are right now, and leading them to where they thought they could have never gotten themselves. By mastering those three key factors of cultivating team dynamics, you will nurture, foster, and care for your team, leading each member to success.