As Ryan Holiday wrote in his book “The Obstacle Is the Way,” obstacles can be seen as opportunities to improve and grow. In the context of building a great team, there are certainly obstacles to overcome, but they can be viewed as chances to strengthen the team and its processes.
It all Starts with PEOPLE:
People are at the heart of any organization. They design and create products, make business decisions, and solve problems. No business can succeed without the efforts of its people. Therefore, building a great team is critical to the success of any organization.
First Who, Then What:
As Jim Collins famously wrote in his book “Good to Great,” it’s essential to get the right people on the bus before figuring out where to take it. In other words, it’s crucial to hire the right people for the right positions before determining the organization’s goals and objectives.
Why don’t we get this right? 3 Obstacles
Despite the importance of building a great team, many organizations face obstacles in achieving this goal. Let’s look at three of the most common obstacles:
Obstacle #1 – Leaders Do as Little as Needed:
One of the biggest obstacles to building a great team is leaders who do as little as possible to recruit, hire, and retain the best talent. Many leaders view recruiting as a necessary evil rather than an opportunity to find the best people for the job. As a result, they often hire just enough staff to maintain staffing levels with minimal disruption.
However, this approach can lead to problems. When there’s a vacancy, leaders may have difficulty finding the time to fill it or may compromise by hiring any “warm body” who applies. This approach can result in underperformers being hired, which can negatively impact the team’s effectiveness and morale.
Leadership is not just about managing the day-to-day operations of a team. It’s also about cultivating a culture of excellence and ensuring that your team has the right talent to achieve its goals. Unfortunately, many leaders fall into the trap of doing as little as possible when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and retaining top talent.
Recruiting is often viewed as a tedious and time-consuming process that takes away from other important tasks. However, leaders who view recruiting as a necessary evil miss out on the opportunity to find the best people for their team. Instead of hiring the best, they may settle for mediocre performers who can just get the job done, leading to a lack of innovation and progress.
Furthermore, leaders who do not prioritize hiring and retention may face challenges when there’s a vacancy. Without a strong pipeline of candidates, it may be difficult to fill positions quickly, leading to understaffing and reduced productivity. Additionally, without a clear plan for retention, top performers may leave for better opportunities, leaving the team in a constant state of flux.
In order to build a great team, leaders must invest time and resources into recruiting, hiring, and retaining the best talent. This means having a clear strategy for attracting and assessing candidates, as well as offering competitive compensation and benefits to retain top performers. By doing so, leaders can create a high-performing team that can achieve great things.
Obstacle #2 – Leaders Hold on to What is Familiar:
Another common obstacle to building a great team is leaders who are hesitant to let go of current employees, even if they are underperforming or not a good fit for the team. They might be afraid of the consequences of turnover, such as the loss of knowledge or the need to cover their shifts. Leaders may also feel a sense of loyalty to long-term team members or be reluctant to let go of people they have invested time and energy in.
This approach often stems from a fear of the unknown, a belief that turnover is bad, or a reluctance to lose loyal employees. However, holding onto underperformers can lead to negative turnover, where high-performing employees leave due to frustration or burnout.
The Law of Familiarity – If it’s familiar, at least you know what to expect. Fear of the unknown. Leaders are often hesitant to let go of ANY current employees, even those who are underperforming or don’t fit the company culture. They might fear that turnover will disrupt the business and lead to a loss of productivity. Additionally, leaders may feel a sense of loyalty to their employees or worry about who will cover the open shifts if someone leaves. They may have invested a lot of time and energy into training a team member and don’t want to let that investment go to waste.
The result of this obstacle is that leaders fail to engage in positive turnover, resulting in negative turnover. Unfortunately, when leaders hold on to employees who are not a good fit, they risk losing their high-performing employees. Top talent wants to work with other top performers and won’t want to stick around if they are constantly weighed down by those who are underperforming. In fact, holding on to poor-performing employees can lead to negative turnover, where the best employees leave due to frustration and burnout.
To avoid this obstacle, leaders must be willing to let go of those who are not contributing to the team’s success. They should create a culture that rewards high performers and holds everyone accountable for meeting the company’s standards. Leaders should also prioritize recruiting and hiring the best possible candidates, so they are not stuck with underperforming employees.
Obstacle #3 – Leaders Lack Competence and Confidence:
A third obstacle to building a great team is leaders who lack the competence and confidence to design and manage a high-performing team.
This lack of confidence can lead to self-defeating thoughts, such as “I don’t have time,” “They’re just going to quit anyway,” or “I don’t get paid enough for this.” These negative thought patterns can lead to passivity and a lack of action, which can ultimately harm the team’s effectiveness.
This obstacle can be particularly challenging for new or inexperienced leaders who lack the knowledge or training to build an effective team.
Leaders who lack competence and confidence in building a team often struggle to attract and retain the right employees. They may be hesitant to recruit new team members or unsure of what to do with unproductive team members. They may not know how to effectively recruit, train, and manage team members, leading to a lack of productivity and engagement. They might feel that they don’t have the authority to make decisions about their team or that it’s not their responsibility. This lack of confidence and competence can lead to a state of learned helplessness, where the leader feels powerless to make any changes.
The Law of Learned Helplessness states that people who lack competence and confidence may engage in self-defeating thoughts that prevent them from taking action. They may make excuses, blame external factors, or adopt a victim mentality. For example, a leader may say they do not have enough time to recruit new team members or that there is no one good to hire in the current job market. Alternatively, they may feel entitled to a certain level of support or compensation and become resentful when these expectations are not met.
The result of this obstacle is that leaders may become passive and hope for something to change or continue looking for new ways to avoid blame. They may pretend to be successful to keep up appearances, even when the team is not performing well. This can result in a lack of job satisfaction and turnover among team members.
To overcome this obstacle, leaders must take responsibility for building their team’s skills and knowledge. They should invest in training programs that teach them how to recruit, train, and manage team members effectively. They should also work on building their confidence, so they feel empowered to make decisions and take action when necessary.
The Leadership Gap – Root Deficiency of All 3 Obstacles:
The Leadership Gap is a fundamental deficiency that lies at the root of all three obstacles to building a great team. This gap is the difference between what a leader knows about leadership and what they actually do.
All three of these obstacles can be traced back to a root deficiency in leadership. The Law of the Lid, as John Maxwell calls it, states that a leader’s effectiveness sets a ceiling on the organization’s success. If a leader is only a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of leadership ability, they will only attract and retain employees who are less effective than them.
To build a great team, leaders need to be not just productive team members but also effective leaders. This requires developing leadership knowledge, skills, and experience. Additionally, leaders need to take full responsibility for their results and rise above the point of power to ensure that they are measuring themselves based on results rather than just their efforts. This means that they must take ownership of their mistakes, be accountable for their actions, and commit to continuous learning and improvement. By doing so, they can rise above the point of power and begin building teams that are productive, effective, and successful.
Many leaders are productive team members but lack the skills or experience needed to build an effective team. They may be great at performing specific tasks, such as making products, planning strategies, or selling services, but they may not know how to hire, train, and manage team members effectively.
Leaders who are highly productive may not be effective leaders because they lack the necessary leadership knowledge, skills, or experience. They may be great at making, planning, ordering, or selling products, but building a team requires a different set of skills. Leaders who lack these skills may struggle to attract and retain top talent, leading to a cycle of underperforming employees.
To overcome the Leadership Gap, leaders must focus on developing their leadership skills and knowledge. They should seek out training and education programs that teach them how to build a high-performing team. They should also take responsibility for their results by focusing on outcomes rather than efforts. This shift in mindset can help leaders to rise above the point of power and take full responsibility for their team’s success.
Building a great team is a critical component of any successful business. Leaders who can overcome the obstacles of doing as little as possible, holding on to what is familiar, and lacking competence and confidence can create a culture of high performance and engagement. By developing their leadership skills and taking responsibility for their results, leaders can bridge the Leadership Gap and build a team that is capable of achieving great things.