“Going for the Gold” 

With the excitement of the 2021 Summer Olympics,  it was clear that each athlete must be extremely  disciplined in preparing for and performing at that  level of competition; dedicating the focused time  and extreme energy necessary to reach the Olympic  level of performance. Whether a single sport or a team  endeavor, the skills, knowledge, and pursuit of excellence in  performance levels were incredibly impressive. 

In our work environments, there are often Olympic-sized  projects that a team must come together to undertake, to  implement and complete. Whether they be an established  team or newly formed units, the team members must learn  their roles within the team, and they must also collectively  align and understand the desired outcomes. Then, interact  successfully with the other members to earn their “medal”  and receive the honored recognition on the “presentation  platform” as a team. 

Three critical elements that must exist with  any highperforming team: 

 • A willingness and openness to (continually) learn 

• Skills for successful implementation & execution of  the project 

 • Knowledge of actions needed to achieve the goals 

In a team setting, not every member will be at the same level  of expertise. As a leader, you must manage to move the team forward while helping to fill in any skill or knowledge gaps. However, the critical element essential for each team  member is to embrace the willingness and openness to learn.  Each team member must demonstrate they are ready to  take on a new challenge even in the face of uncertainty. The  learning process should include a willingness to fail as well  as some level of risk-taking to achieve team success. Skills can be taught, and knowledge can be shared. Yet having the  willingness and openness to receive new information with  coaching and formative feedback for improvement must be  an intrinsic characteristic, authentically in the heart and on the  mind of each team member. The individual fire or spark for this cannot be manufactured. 

Once you have a clear picture of where each team member  stands with regards to these three critical areas, you can move  on to the next step of teaching and coaching the team. There  are 3 types of learning styles to understand and appreciate: 

  • Kinesthetic 

  • Auditory 

  • Visual 

The dominate learning style will shape the way you deliver  information and impart new skills. Are your team members “doers”? Do they need to be hands-on to learn? Are your team members auditory, where they must hear information  in various form to learn? Or are your team members, visual  learners. Do they require visual tools and cues to spark the  learning? The delivery of training, coaching and education needs to be varied and tailored to individual learning styles as much as possible. Also keep in mind, that all team members do not learn at the same pace, and some may need additional support along the way. 

Ultimately, team success is going to come from clarity in shared goals and timelines. If each team member works with the end in mind, they have a better chance of success. You must let the team set boundaries and consequences for each other and a  clear accountability plan must be in place. 

Personality and Behavioral styles should also be considered  as you prepare your team for grander goals. Whether you use  Meyers Briggs®, DISC® or other personality assessment tools to help better understand how to best communicate with each  team member, it is vital that they all understand their own style  and respect each other’s styles for maximum output. 

Important too is to understand what motivates self and others.  Once the team demonstrates mastery and achieves a certain  outcome,itis time torewardthem. Consider that every member of the team is motivated in different ways. Remember always  that team members are individuals with different motivations  that may require different types of recognition. 

Training for a place on an Olympic Team clearly is not for  everyone. However, your teams can achieve Olympic-like  greatness, and it is the leader’s role to inspire people and  manage the process to support, guide, develop, challenge, and  motivate their team toward excellence to “Go for the Gold”.

Linda Krei

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