By Marshall Loeb, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch)—”Leadership is the ability to decide what is to be done and then get others to do it,” Dwight D. Eisenhower once said. Unfortunately, most of us are far better at deciding what needs to be done than at enlisting others in our vision.
“It tells you if you’re on the right track with your business model and strategy,” says Littlechild, president of Advisor Impact Inc., a research and training firm for financial advisors.
If you’ve got a plan, but lack the people skills to put it into action, here’s a five-pronged approach to effective team building from Ray Sclafani, president of ClientWise, an executive coaching and training firm.
1. Define your goals. The first step toward achieving the results you want is to make your objectives as concrete as possible, Sclafani said. Pledging to improve sales is a commendable goal, but it doesn’t offer your team a clear mandate. To get the job done, they’ll need more specifics: Will you focus on advertising to supercharge sales, or cut prices? Which market sectors do you want to target? Get clear about exactly what you want before you set your team loose.
2. Assign roles based on strengths. Once you’ve articulated your vision, determine what types of skills you’ll need to achieve it; then identify team members who can provide the support you need. If cold-calling new clients is part of your sales push, look for staff members with the right mixture of confidence and friendliness to lure in potential buyers. If you’re planning to launch a new advertising campaign, identify employees with a talent for marketing and design.
3. Get feedback. After you’ve assembled your team, defined everyone’s responsibilities and given them a road map for success, ask for their feedback. Does each person understand the ultimate goal of the project and their individual role? To assure that everyone is on the same page, address any confusion before putting your plan into action.
4. Confirm buy-in. Now that you’ve articulated your goals and communicated your vision, make sure everyone is on board. After all, comprehension doesn’t equal agreement. Do your team members agree with your vision? Do they think it’s premature, unrealistic, or just plain wrongheaded? If you encounter resistance from the entire team, you’ll need to revisit your game plan before proceeding. If, on the other hand, you have one naysayer spouting negativity, you should weigh his opinions and decide whether he has a point or if he is simply a detriment to the team. But be sure to listen before you act. “Often times, leaders are too quick to drop somebody off the team,” warns Sclafani.
5. Communicate results. Regardless of how carefully constructed your plan, you’re bound to encounter some problems when initially trying to implement it, so don’t forget to do regular progress checks. Find out if there are any impediments to success. This is where you start learning where the gaps are and begin paving the way for success, Sclafani says.
Marshall Loeb, former editor of Fortune, Money, and the Columbia Journalism Review, writes for MarketWatch.