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Chris LoCurto

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September 9, 2013

Five Ways to Make Your Team Better

September 9, 2013 | By | 30 Comments

We expect our teams to be great. When they’re not, we have a tendency to push them to be better. What’s wrong with that concept? You can’t push a rope.

Chris LoCurto, Leadership, Business, Strategic Planning, LifePlan, #CLoTribe

If you want your team to be better, you must first understand how they are right now. Take an honest inventory of your people – are they good, great, bad? Focus on the way they do their job, how they communicate with the team, their personal lives, and how they take direction. The only way to make someone better is to discover where they need to be better. Once again…

As a leader it’s your job to make your team successful, not the other way around. 

Focus on their needs by starting here:

  1. Be the Example – You as a leader must set the example of what it is to be better. Find areas that your team needs to focus on and be an example in those areas. If they’re struggling with communication, then over communicate the best you possibly can. Show them how they can communicate with others. Help them to understand where they are weak, but don’t make it a bad thing or negative. Instead, show them how they can be more successful when they communicate correctly.
  2. Set a Clear Direction – You have to be leading your team in a clear direction. If they can’t see it, they wont understand how to get there. Vision is all about showing somebody where they’re going to be, not a goal or a dream, but what it looks like on the other end. If you can guide and direct them toward the vision, they can see it, and they can fill in the gaps as well.
  3. Give Praise - People will repeat what they’re praised for. If you spend time finding them doing things right, they will continue to do what they were recognized for. If all you do is find them doing things wrong, they will become extremely gun-shy and not willing to put themselves out there. They won’t care about being better. The only thing they will care about is not getting their head chopped off.
  4. Lead with Dignity - You must treat people with dignity. Understand that these are people. They’re somebody’s kids just like your kids, or like you’re somebody’s child. They want to be treated with dignity. They want to be treated with respect. They don’t want to be yelled at or told that they’re idiots or incompetent. Instead, if you will spend your time building them up, then you’ll find they will be more likely to put their neck out and do things better. They will spend more time trying to be a better team member and person.
  5. Let Out the Rope - You’ve got to give them rope. No, not to hang themselves. You’ve got to let the rope out a little bit at a time as your team grows stronger. If you never let the rope out, you’re keeping them in the same spot they were before. As they become better, you have to allow them to be better.

Following these steps will lead to better team members. On top of that, ask questions. Ask how you can help them to be better. They might tell you something that you weren’t thinking about. You never know, your team member might lead you on how to lead them.

Question: What ways do you make team members better?

  • http://www.nateanglin.com/ Anwell Steve

    I think it’s also important to encourage them to be fit not only when it comes to physical activities but mental and spiritual aspects as well. This is to make sure that every team member has a positive disposition in life that will lead to a better team.

  • DebtDiscipline

    #3 is such a key. Team members never get enough praise.

  • Theodore Wolff

    #2 is resonating with me. I think it’s easy to create a problem of solving a problem because we forget to remember what things will look like when the problem is solved.

  • Kenny

    Good list, Chris. I try to limit my direction to “what” I want (result) not “how” to get there (method). Get agreement on the desired result, and then let them go. It’s hard not to offer, (or worse, direct/demand!) “how” but I found it keeps people from feeling micromanaged and often their approach was much better than what I had in mind anyway!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Isn’t it funny how that is?! Sometimes what would be my best direction is quickly smashed by their own. :-)

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    Well recently for me, I’ve went a whole new direction from the music industry to family industry. So my new business/ministry is focus more on fathers, husbands, marriage, parenting, and leadership in the home. I have recently chosen to go this direction so that my wife and family would get involved. My team members are now my very own family. It’s me, my wife, three daughters and one son. The best way that I make my team better in my house is I go first. I “Be the example.” Then I explain what I did, why I did it, and how it’s important for them to do it that way according to the Scriptures.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      We need more dads doing that Ricardo!!!

      • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

        That’s why I changed directions. I see this lack in a lot of places. I believe it all begins in the home, even leadership. Even the Bible says, “How can we lead the church [or business or anything] if we cannot even lead our own families.” (1 Tim. 3:5). I believe this is the stepping stone for leading outside of the house. It’s basic “If I am faithful in little, I will be faithful in much.” To many skip the home to take over the world in whatever their industry or field of work is.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      So cool Ricardo. I wish you well and have a great feeling you’ll succeed.

      • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

        Thanks Joe. Appreciate it.

  • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

    I definitely agree with giving them some rope. At first, they need a little more supervision to make sure that they can do what is expected. But they need to be able to get off on their own. This frees you up as a leader, and then allows them to grow in their ability and their confidence. If you keep the rope too short, they’ll never have the confidence they need to be truly successful.

    Along with this, I like the analogy of a bird. There comes a point that the bird has to get kicked out of the nest and try to fly. They may fall or fly into something, but that’s how they learn. When we allow people some more room, they’ll make mistakes – it’s inevitable. We have to LET them make mistakes instead of covering for them. Then, when they make the mistakes, help them to learn from the experience.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      Thought about this when I was watching my kids ride their bikes yesterday. I knew they were going to tip over and hit the ground. And I also knew that I had to let them so they can learn what works. I think the same applies for teams.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I think so many people were raised with overly strict of abusive parents that they are afraid to let out rope. If their child gets hurt, they blame themselves for being bad. That’s not how God intended it to be. We have to raise adults, not children.

      Good stuff brother!

  • Brent Trout

    Debt reduction plan: Any team member that completes Financial Peace University (Daveramsey.com), we start chipping in $100/mo toward their debt snowball. When their debt is gone, we put $100/mo into an investment to help them save. I’ve found that team members who sleep better at night (with fewer money worries) work better during the day. They also have fewer crisis in life. They also feel like they’ve gotten a raise when they no longer have any monthly debt payments – and it only costs me $100/mo!

    • http://www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com/ Joshua Rivers

      That’s awesome!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow!! That’s awesome Trent!

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

    Giving praise is so important. but it does need to be handled correctly to be effective. Effective praise is specific and as soon as possible. consider the difference between:
    “Thank you for this post Chris”
    and
    “Hey Chris, I really like the way that you provided 5 very specific ways to make your team better. In particular, I really thought your point about being an example was of great value to remember. Thank you for being so generous with your ideas – you always get me thinking. I also am a fan of you way you close your posts with a challenging question.”
    Which would you remember?

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      All I can say is I feel incredible right now! :-)

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    I really appreciate the culture of my team. I feel like we treat each other with respect and I verify that when we interact with other organizations that are entirely different. As part of the leadership team, we try to support people in growing personally and professionally.

    In my newer leadership role, however, I need to remind myself to give more praise. With increased responsibilities, I sometimes get involved when there’s an issue. I’d like to be more involved when things are going great as well.

    I have found that trust and delegation are possible only if you constantly communicate your vision and give people the tools they need to succeed.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Amen!!

  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/ Paul Jolicoeur

    Love this list Christ! I might add, make clear the expectations. Some people need to know where the guardrails are so they can let loose inside the space they are given. Giving them clear expectation can do this.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Love it!!

  • Matt

    Thanks Chris – really enjoyed this. I think the single most important concept for leaders to understand is that it’s not about them! Have a great Monday!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      So tough for a leader to get, but when they do it’s awesome!!

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    You mean aside of the obvious things like threatening to fire them? Because that always works.

    Now that I have tongue unburied from my cheek…

    The one single thing that works best for me under certain circumstances is to remind individuals and teams of their past successes. People get down. Teams get down. Often, in these situations, they need motivation. Nothing more or less. Just to be reminded that they can do it…they have done it.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Amen brother!! I works with me. :-)

  • http://www.davebratcher.com/ Dave Bratcher

    Great illustration with the rope. During a recent speaking engagement, I asked the strongest person in the audience to come forward. That was funny seeing who thought they were the strongest, and then I asked him to push me by holding the other end of the rope. Great list of items to focus on for a wonderful start to the week! Thanks Chris.

    • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

      If it’s a really short, thick rope, it might work Dave :)

      But that is a great illustration!

      • http://www.davebratcher.com/ Dave Bratcher

        It was a risk, and yes…the wrong guy could have given given me some grief. Thanks Matt.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I love that example! Great stuff.