Working Together: The Six Pillars of Team Success


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

When you’re the owner of a business, one of the most important roles you play is team-builder.

It doesn’t matter how much you know or how inspiring your vision is – your business just won’t succeed unless you have a great group of people working together to achieve your goals.

In short, you need the right people doing the right things, right.

You may not have formally trained as a builder of teams and culture, but there are 6 pillars you can put in place to help guarantee a winning team.

The 6 Pillars of Team Success

  1. A Leader They Want to Follow
  2. A Common Goal
  3. Rules for the Game
  4. An Action Plan Road Map
  5. Rewards for Risk-Taking
  6. A Sense of Belonging

Now let’s take a closer look at how these elements add up to a winning business.

1. A leader they want to follow

That’s you.

Besides providing a clear vision for your team to buy into, you also have to live out the leadership qualities that earn their confidence and respect.

To successfully lead your business, you need to develop skills in planning, time management, and delegation.

You also need to adjust your mindset.

Many business owners fall into the trap of believing that good leadership is about having the right answers.

The problem is that when you’re seen as the “person with all the answers” you end up as the centre of a hub and spoke – creating employees that need your guidance and input for everything.

Instead, if you are going to be a successful leader, you have to get better at asking good questions.

It’s hard.

But this is the kind of leadership that is most associated with high-performing teams.

So if you’re committed to building the best possible team, that also means being the leader they need.

2. A common goal

It’s impossible to get everyone in the boat rowing in the same direction if they don’t understand the destination.

From day one, everyone on your team needs to understand the over-arching goal(s) for your business.

What is your mission and what is your vision for your company’s success?

How will you know you’ve achieved it?

Without this kind of North Star, your team may set their own goals – and they may not align with yours!

And when team members focus on their own goals instead of the company’s, it can knock your business off course.

But with a clear eye to the ultimate goal, your team members can set individual and departmental goals that get you there.

3. Rules for the Game

I can teach you how to pass a puck, take a wrist shot or slap shot, body check, and skate forwards and backwards.

But if I don’t tell you the Rules of Hockey, you can’t play hockey!

The same is true with your team.

They can have all the skills they need to be able to do the job. But they can’t play together unless they agree on a common set of rules.

Your culture is “how we do things around here” – it’s the rules for the game.

Most business owners would find that many of their business problems would disappear if they made “establishing a great culture” their focus.

4. An Action Plan Roadmap

Strategic plans are usually written in the form of lofty goals.

Action plans break down larger projects into daily or manageable tasks that individuals can accomplish.

This is how we get boots on the ground.

By breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps, individuals can recognize how their contributions fit into the larger strategic plan.

Project management tools, like Asana or a Gantt chart, can help ensure everyone is on the same page.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help you track progress and determine if the right things are being done to achieve the organization’s goals.

5. Rewards for risk-taking

People generally repeat behaviours they’re rewarded for.

So if you expect innovation and experimentation from your team, it’s important to reward that behaviour – even if it doesn’t always get the results you expected.

It’s rare for a company to flourish without some level of strategic risk-taking, so encourage that among your team.

Establish a culture that encourages them to question the “why” behind their actions and to advocate for continuous improvement – for both your customers and your bottom line.

6. A Sense of Belonging

Your team needs more from you than a simple paycheck.

Research tells us that whether someone feels they belong as part of your team may be more important when it comes to retaining them than their salary or benefits.

It’s important to keep this in mind as you work with your team – do they feel included in decision-making?

Do they feel comfortable sharing their opinions, even if they differ from yours?

Do they trust you and each other?

Don’t play favourites and don’t let your team complain to you about each other.

Instead, encourage open and honest problem-solving that allows all voices to be heard.

This work isn’t always easy, but implementing these 6 pillars will make you more likely to be successful.

Great Teams Have Great Coaches

If you’ve ever studied a winning team in any sport, you already know that they have coaches.

No sports team owner or professional athlete would dream of trying to go without a coach.

Business is no different. Most top performing business owners have a coach.

If you’d like some help to build a winning team and winning business, I invite you to book a call to discuss coaching: book a call with John

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