Building Teams for True Engagement

Recently I’ve been speaking with a number of people about philosophies of building teams.  In these discussions I’ve been sharing ideas of the elements that I believe are critical for leaders if they wish to build engaged teams and be truly giving leaders.  I should note that I definitely do not consider myself perfect at this. I, like most, am on a leadership journey and these are the elements which I continually hone in my leadership approach.

In building and leading a team I have found there to be four key elements. I believe that if you pay attention to each of these elements with each of your team members you will build a team that complements each other, delivers great results, and is truly engaged in the business success.

leading for engagement


1. Can they do the job? 

The first element is the one that it is really table-stakes. If your team-members are to be successful and engaged they need to be in roles where they have the aptitude, skills and talents to deliver on the objectives. As a leader you need to ensure that your team-members are already fully capable to deliver or have a development plan to fill in any gaps.  I think most leaders pay attention to this one, but unfortunately many stop here… yet it is really only a beginning.

2. What do they bring to the team?

The evidence of the benefits of team diversity is clear. And in my experience this is the piece that begins to lift the whole team to higher performance.  When adding someone to your team or coaching a current member, it is critical to be thoughtful and open in discussing what they bring to the team.  Are they able to compliment other team members?  Are they open and giving in peer-mentoring and sharing their views and thoughts so that all aspects of an opportunity are explored? Have you as a leader ensured that your team is diverse in all aspects? These are all important considerations that you need to explore in order to ensure maximum results from your team.

3. What are they trying to accomplish for themselves?

This might be the most overlooked element by many leaders. And yet I believe it is critical to ensuring your team is fully engaged and performing at the highest level.  It is only by understanding what each of  your team members is seeking, and working hard to ensure they can get it, that you can unlock the ‘discretionary contribution’ of your team and where innovation and creativity truly flourishes.  Do you know what motivates each of your team?  What are their career and personal aspirations and ambitions? What do they have a passion for?  What makes them feel truly inspired?  Ask these questions and dig really deep on this. If you set your people up to achieve their personal goals on a deeply meaningful level you will find they will go beyond all your expectations.

4.  What do they need from you?

As a leader you need to get past your own ambitions and truly seek to understand how you can serve your team.  You need to talk openly with each of your team members to understand what they need more of from you, and what they need less of from you.  You need to be open about your strengths and your weaknesses and truly seek to eradicate your blind spots.  This is the most difficult piece, because you must have a true place of trust with your team before you can get honest feedback and dialogue on this one.

Your team needs to trust that you are there to help them be successful, and they must believe that you are acting from a giving place before they will have honest dialogue with you.  That said, if you invest the time in the other three areas and continually ask this fourth question, you can get to a place where you will get honest feedback and have wonderful dialogues on how you can better serve your team.

And remember.. feedback is a gift.


I would love to hear your comments and ideas…