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Your Secret to Great Teams

"We were in trouble. And I knew it."

The decision Ellie needed to make was difficult and complex. Looking around the conference room, she could tell that each member of her Senior Leadership Team felt strongly about the issue. Emotions were hot. For some it was personal. And they were deeply divided.

The stakes were high. If they got this wrong, people would leave. Good people. High performers.

"How on earth do I lead from here?" she wondered.

Everyone wants to lead a great team. But few are willing to do what's necessary to make their team great. The work isn't just hard, it's personal.

The team continued to disagree, and in the end, Ellie made an extremely difficult decision. Yet no one left. In fact, the team was tighter after the crisis than it was before. The secret? Ellie operated by a strongly-held principle I believe is the secret to great teams.

Your secret to great teams

Everything rises and falls on relationships.

Ellie met one-on-one with every team member. She listened intently. Most importantly, she made it clear that each team member was more important to her as a person than as an employee. She didn't try to persuade anyone to change their deeply-held opinions. She simply stated her reasoning and reiterated her commitment to each team member.

"If you need to leave," she said, "I'll understand. And I will do whatever I can to help and support you."

Everything rises and falls on relationships.

Half the team hated the decision. But they understood it. And they appreciated the process Ellie led them through to make it. And, most importantly, they knew their leader would do everything in her power to help them succeed, whether or not they stayed with the company.

In the context of good relationships, people work harder. They communicate better. They are more productive. They are more creative. And they have more fun. (One of my own professional values.)

Your secret to great teams is to build great relationships with your team members, and help them build great relationships with each other. Believe me, everything from your culture to your performance metrics will improve.

Don't wait until a crisis to start building great relationships. Ellie had spent several years forging strong bonds with her leaders. Without them, things would likely have developed quite differently. Start today.

Everything rises and falls on relationships.

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