Do You Have The Right Ingredients To Build a Great Leadership Team?

NH Tech Alliance Monthly Column printed in the New Hampshire Union Leader March 8, 2020

By Kelley Small

A natural instinct for some CEOs may be to bring in the people they know well and with whom they feel the most comfortable working. This may be a good place to start, especially if they have had success with these people in the past. It is important to ask yourself: Is this or was this the right approach?

Team dynamics are crucial to the success of any business. The crème-de-la-crème in leadership lead by example, specifically with their behaviors, decisions and contributions, which earn credibility and respect within their sphere of influence. According to Nancy Capistran, international author of “Open Your Eyes and LEAD,” leaders who model integrity, excellence, fortitude and kindness consistently secure the best teams.

We may have all the right people, but are they in the right positions? Only with consistent working together does the character of any given team reveal its true colors. It is crucial to be watchful for the evolving group’s dynamics. If you know there are superstars who are underperforming, you may want to make some adjustments to best support the team before it negatively impacts the culture, quality and performance.

We all have varying degrees of experience and perspective, therefore, the effort needed to build a cohesive team can seem at times to be demanding and overwhelming.

Those leaders who are passionate about sustaining their businesses by consistently cultivating the emerging leaders around them develop a stronger team culture and more favorable results.

Creating a dynamic team is similar to building anything of value, from a gourmet recipe to a growing multimillion-dollar company. It takes different ingredients that include a number of agents working together for success.

Senior leaders should always take into consideration the skills and attitudes that each team member brings to the organization as a whole as well as for their individual roles and responsibilities. Capistran shares that “each of us has a unique combination of preferences and tendencies created from our individual past experiences, values, beliefs and education, combined with the circumstances of our everyday life. In order to learn more about these combinations, there are a number of assessment tools that can help navigate the various personalities to assist your organization in creating an effective and winning team.”

Assessment tools are most effective when combined with other strategies; they are only one piece to the puzzle. In the hiring process, for example, a properly administered personality test can provide additional data points for evaluating a candidate. A resume only presents information the candidate wants to share about themselves. An interview should further provide a limited picture of who someone is and how they may perform in the job. The personality tests can identify qualities that correlate to high performance in a particular role as well as assess a candidate’s potential cultural fit within an organization.

Just like a business assessment helps us to identify the business’s strengths and areas of opportunity, the same holds true for a personality assessment for individuals. To expand and grow as an organization in a smart and strategic way we need to have our eyes wide open to the strengths and development areas of our team members. Gaining a deeper understanding of people’s character traits helps to optimize the fit of the right people in the right positions.

Organizations can also benefit from personality assessment tools to help shape an employee’s role and responsibilities within specific projects and teams to best leverage their strengths and counter their blind spots. For example, someone who enjoys being detail oriented and has a high priority for accuracy might be the best researcher or analytic person for a particular project, while someone who is passionate about collaborating with others could be a perfect fit as a project leader. These assessment tools can also reveal who works well with others and who would prefer working alone. Allowing each employee to work in the way that best suits their style can improve the caliber of their output. Optimizing teams to do their best work allows organizations to meet and often exceed their business goals and objectives.

In today’s unprecedented environment, conventional leadership cannot take us into the future. New approaches may need to be adapted and when appropriate, the right tools should be used to produce a deeper dive into the people who we want to help lead our businesses. If we aspire to dramatically increase our supply of self-aware agents in business, then success will naturally follow.

Kelley Small is member of the New Hampshire Tech Alliance Workforce Development Team and a principal with Standish Executive Search, the New England-based firm that helps organizations define management roles and secure the right talent. Visit standishsearch.com.