How many of you have been in that team that we have fought or would have fought tooth and nail to stay in? You know, the team that you just cannot live without. The one that you look forward to going to work with every morning, where things just smooth seamlessly and everyone gets along. I have been in several teams over the years and have had some less than desirable teams and some really great teams. What are those key differences that made one team sync up better than the other?

Strength, ability, training, leadership, or simply personality? While all of these are a key factors there is always one area that can make a team miserable to show up to every day: The Team Leader. We use to have a saying that a “Team Leader is responsible for everything the team does or fails to do” This sucks! Total zero defect mentality!

Let’s go on quick flash back. So there I was, a young Recon Team Leader in Al Anbar Province, Iraq in the middle of the surge. Here I find my self with a less than staller Marine in my team during a time of combat where lives are at stake. One thing leads to another and here I am getting counseled by my Plt Sgt that he was a leadership challenge and I failed as a Team Leader to train him. A year later that same Plt Sgt gave that kid a Article 15 for being “less than steller”…. Then a decade later we are talking about this exact subject and he drops this knowledge on me, “the success of a team leader is perceived by others when the team can accomplish tasks together as a team by pure devotion and respect they have for each other, the success of a team is never determined by one man.” Priceless! Just shows you age, experience, and wisdom is nothing to snuff at!

Even if you have a strong team, if the team leader is less than stellar it will be a weight on the team’s production and morale. It will be a constant wall, one they will have to climb over to accomplish what could be done seamlessly.

Find a good team & treat them well:

When you are starting from scratch you have to find your team. Whether it’s from recruitment or interviewing you are searching for the right candidates. Does this mean you need an all-star staff to have an all-star team? No. They just need to be able to work together for the common mission goals. Work ethic, aptitude, heart, honor, loyalty, and commitment to the mission are important traits. Treat them well! If they do work, give them credit. If the team succeeds then you succeed so there is no need to take credit for your teams work, this will go along way. Promote your team, not just in rank but also in their abilities. One day people in your team should grow and move on to do better and bigger things. This will and should be a testament to team leader. Understand there is a human factor to your team. Might sound weird to say but they are humans with lives, families, and feelings. This is a key factor that is over looked a lot. Knowing this will help you lead your team and understand their actions.

Have a vision:

Know where you are going and have a map to where you are going. If you don’t know where you going then how can you share with your team. It is more than just sharing with them, you need to get them to believe in the direction that you are taking them and have the ability to get them to lead the way as well. How did Dr. Martin Luther King get a quarter of a million people to march on Washington D.C. to listen to him speak? In a day of no social media, no mass market news media, a era of very limited communications, yet people of all colors and backgrounds came from half a country to away to listen to him speak on a hot summer day. Why do people wait in lines at Apple for the new Iphone or Ipad? Are the developers and engineers better at Apple then Dell or Microsoft? No, they come from the same colleges and technical schools. So how did Apple and Dr. King make such an impact? They both were able to impart a vision and the WHY of what they were doing. When us as humans are given the WHY we are motivated to follow.