“If you have a dream and you know all the tasks required to achieve the dream, you don’t have a dream… you have a task. A dream is something you don’t yet know how you will be able to accomplish”
Alden Mills spent several years as a Navy Seal commander, before launching the fastest growth product business (#1 in INC magazine) as a entrepreneur. He has just published his second book: Unstoppable Teams.
The #1 Job of Leadership
Leadership is determined by your ability to build and lead teams. Leadership’s greatest challenge is attracting great people and placing them into teams that are equipped to solve problems, overcome hurdles, and simply do more. Alden shares the 4 pillars he uses to develop Unstoppable Teams.
7 Traits of Unstoppable Teammates
Alden has spent many years helping himself and the teams around him overcome huge obstacles. He has a wealth of experience in building great teams – military, entrepreneurial… and family. This is an infographic from Alden Mills on the 7 traits that make for unstoppable team members.
Alden Mills TEDx Talk
I had the privilege of working with Alden to prepare this TEDx talk that he shared at IESE Business School last year.
About the Book
Unstoppable Teams show managers how to inspire, motivate, and lead the people around them. Mills draws on stories from his own experiences to impart these surprising team-building lessons:
Too many people mistake groups of individuals for a team.
No two people are alike, but we all have the same genetic drivers that motivate us—our will to survive, our ego-driven desire for personal gain, and our soul-driven yearning to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
When we override our fears about survival, we can focus on our desire to thrive.
The more you care for your teammates, the more they will dare for the team.
Great ideas are not reserved for a select few—true teams embrace diversity of thought to find winning ideas.
How to Build and Sustain Trust within your Team (by Luis Costa Soares)
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.
A strong, cohesive team is high performing and will achieve anything.
Have you ever lead people in a team who didn’t trust one another? If you have, then you’ll know how challenging and draining this can be.
A team without trust isn’t really a team! It’s just a group of individuals, working together, often making disappointing progress. They may not share information, they might battle over rights and responsibilities, and they may not cooperate with one another. It doesn’t matter how capable or talented these people are, they will never reach their full potential if trust isn’t present.
However, when trust is in place, each individual in the team becomes stronger, because he/she is part of an effective, cohesive group. When people trust one another, the group can achieve truly meaningful goals.
So how can you, as a leader, help your team build the trust that it needs to flourish? Let’s look at trust within teams, why it’s important, and what you can do to build it.
The Importance of Trust
One definition describes trust as a “reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
Think about that definition for a moment. Trust means that you rely on someone else to do the right thing. You believe in the person’s integrity and strength, to the extent that you’re able to put yourself on the line, at some risk to yourself.
Trust is essential to an effective team, because it provides a sense of safety. When your team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities.
Without trust there’s less innovation, collaboration, creative thinking, and productivity, and people spend their time protecting themselves and their interests. This is time that should be spent helping the team attain its goals.
Trust is also essential for knowledge sharing. A study published in the “Journal of Knowledge Management” found that trust was a key element in a team’s knowledge acquisition. Put simply, if your team members trust one another, they’re far more likely to share knowledge, and communicate openly.
Strategies for Building Trust
As a leader, what can you do to create a culture of trust within your team?
Lead by Example
If you want to build trust within your team, then lead by example, and show your people that you trust others. This means trusting your team, your colleagues, and your boss. Never forget that your team members are always watching and taking cues from you. Take the opportunity to show them what trust in others really looks like.
Open communication is essential for building trust. You need to get everyone on your team talking to one another in an honest, meaningful way, and you can use several strategies to accomplish this.
First, create a team DNA to define the purpose of the team, as well as each person’s role. Present this team DNA at the first team meeting, and encourage each team member to ask questions, and discuss his/her expectations. NOTE: This team DNA becomes the common language we all use within the team to communicate and understand each other. It creates a level playing field where all team members shared the same intrepretations of words and meanings.
Next, consider organising team building exercises. When chosen carefully and planned well, these exercises can help “break the ice” and encourage people to open up and start communicating. Make these exercises “real play”… in other words, use everyday real occurences as the content and basis for these team building exercises, rather than artificial simulations.
Meet regularly, so that all team members have a chance to talk about their progress, and discuss any problems that they’re experiencing. This time spent face-to-face is an important part of getting to know each other. It also creates opportunities for team members to talk, and to help one another solve problems.
Make sure that you “walk the talk”: whenever you have important or relevant information to share, do so immediately. Demonstrate that open communication is important to you by consistently sharing with the group. The more you share with your team members, and thereby prove that you have no hidden agenda, the more comfortable they’ll feel trusting you and each other. NOTE: be aware that “transparency” does not mean that you have to share absolutely everything. “Transparency” means that when there is something you cannot share, you say so: “this particular topic exists but I cannot share it with you due to this specific reason…”
Know Each Other Personally
One way to build trust is to encourage your team members to see their colleagues as people. Think about creating situations that help them share personal stories, and create bonds with each other.
Do this by asking sensitively about their family, or about their hobbies. Start by sharing some personal information about yourself, and then ask someone else to share something about themselves… a hobby, or a musical interest. Another way to get the team acquainted, and to form stronger bonds, is to find moments to socialize or at lunch.
You could also set aside time each week for informal group discussions. Consider asking team members to put forward suggestions on topics you could all cover. To start with, you could start a discussion around values. Share some of your own values, and encourage others to share theirs. Values are important to most people, and starting a conversation that allows people to share their values highlights your team’s humanity.
Don’t Place Blame
When people work together, honest mistakes and disappointments happen, and it’s easy to blame someone. However, when everyone starts pointing fingers, a difficult and awkward atmosphere quickly develops. This lowers morale, undermines trust, and is ultimately unproductive.
Instead, encourage everyone in your group to think about the mistake in a constructive way. Think about it as a learning opportunity for the team. What can you all do to fix what happened, and move forward together? And how can you work together to ensure that this mistake doesn’t happen again?
Sometimes, cliques can form within a team, often between team members who share common interests or work tasks. However, these groups can – even inadvertently – make others feel isolated. They can also undermine trust between group members.
Start an open discussion about this with your team members, and see what they think about cliques and their effect on other group members. Only by addressing the issue openly can you discourage this damaging behavior.
Discuss Trust Issues
If you manage an established team that has trust issues, it’s essential to find out how these problems originate, so that you can come up with strategies for overcoming them.
Consider giving team members a questionnaire to fill out anonymously. Ask them about the level of trust within the team, as well as why they think there’s a lack of trust. Once you’ve read the results, get everyone together to talk about these issues NOTE: make absolutely sure that you respect the anonymity of the survey!
Building Trust Virtually
If you lead a virtual team, then you might be working with a group of people who seldom meet face to face, or who have never spoken to one another personally. So, how can you build trust between people who are hundreds – if not thousands – of kilometres apart?
You can apply some of the advice above when you’re working with a virtual team. Schedule a virtual “meet and greet” if it’s a new team, to help everyone get to know one another as individuals. Or, create a web page for your team, and ask everyone to write a paragraph or two about their personal history and interests.
A team DNA is still important for defining a clear way of communicationg and intrepreting each others’ expectations. Make sure that the team DNA addresses roles, as well as processes for submitting work digitally. Make sure that the team DNA is as comprehensive as possible, so that people don’t feel uncertain or fearful about the work they’re doing.
Next, make sure that everyone on the team is aware of other team members’ expertise and skills, as well as the value that each individual contributes to the group.
Encourage your team members to treat each other just as they would if they were working face to face. This means that team members should make every effort to be on time for conference calls or web meetings, and that they should let the rest of the team know when they’ll be absent, or on vacation.
It’s particularly important to follow through on the promises you make, and to set an example for everyone else. Keeping your promises is incredibly important in a virtual team, because your word is often all you can give. Positive follow-through builds trust quickly, and can raise the entire group’s tone and expectations.
Trust is an essential element in team productivity. Without it, you’re unlikely to get anything meaningful done. With trust, teams can accomplish everything they set out to do… and more.
As a leader, it’s important that you set an example. Show your team members how critical trust is to you by demonstrating your trust in them, as well as in your colleagues.
Make an effort to help everyone get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage conversations on values, family, or hobbies. Discourage cliques, if you feel that they’re damaging to the team’s trust and morale.
From the very beginning, coaching has always been at the core of my passions.
For the past 38 years I have been an Executive and Team Coach working globally with CEOs and their C-Suite Executives, Business Owners and top talent in a significant number of the major global companies (including a significant number of Fortune 500), innovative companies operating in new ecosystems and dynamic family owned businesses.
During the past 28 years, I have also been an Executive and Team Coach and a “consultant to consultants” developing partners and top talent at major consultancies, Big4 Firms and Legal Firms
There is formula for changing people. Doctor Malik Mohammed shared this wisdom with the EO Global Leadership Academy last week in Washington, USA. If you are to change someone’s behaviour patterns, two things are necessary.
This video is about Building Trust – and how building Trust will Improve Relationships and the Enhance the Quality of our Lives. After you have food and shelter, it is the quality of the relationships that really make your life. Relationships are about trust. Where there is no trust, there is no relationship.
In Rationalia, all decisions are taken because scientific data is collected and the evidence supports the law. If you want to change a law, you suggest an experiment. If the experiment produces evidence that the new law improves the conditions of Rationalia, then the law is passed.
In this land, reason wins.
This is not a country that we are living in now.
This post is not going to get into the pros and cons of the nation of Rationalia.
How Do Politicians try to Change our Minds?
If I listen to political debate (Trump vs Hillary, UK Labour party, Brexit referendum) I do not hear rational arguments being put forward for a range of proposed policies.
I hear arguments that go to credibility (or Ethos, for those followers of Aristotle amongst you):
“You can’t trust her”,
“She doesn’t have the energy”,
“It was just locker-room banter”,
“He says it does not represent who he is, but I think we all know that it really does represent exactly who he is”
There is nothing here about policies. There is nothing here about the danger of the other’s flawed policies. There is only raising of my trustworthiness and decreasing of the other’s trustworthiness.
Why has Reason disappeared from political debate?
I understand this shift. I see three big reasons:
People hold a wider range of beliefs
more sources and types of data and
more channels for experts to spread their views.
There has been such a broadening of accepted beliefs over the last half-century that there are few value systems that can be assumed to apply to the whole electorate. There are few symbols that represent the same value to the whole electorate. There are few bases for logical argument that starts from a widely held truth.
There is much more data, in many more forms (graphics, reports, video, analyst reports…), there are many more experts, there are many more sources for information. The experts come at us through new channels – online, cable, satellite, podcasts, blogs, facebook, twitter…
It is confusing.
What do we do when we are Confused?
In this environment we seek voices we can trust. (Check out The Trust Equation for an in-depth analysis of the 4 components of trust in relationships)
It is only a trusted voice that can open our eyes to a new perspective.
If you want to persuade someone, build a relationship. If there is no relationship, there is little chance of persuasion.
We only really change our minds when a trusted friend who knows us finally asks a question in a private conversation “Hey, why is that so important to you? What effect do you think it is having on your life? on those around you?…”
Who are your trusted friends? Who do you allow to have influence on you?
Sales is not about describing your product, your process or your friends. It is about explaining to the buyer a problem that they have, and giving them a glimpse of a world where that problem has gone away.
What would it feel like to live in a world where that problem has gone away? What would it feel like to have your boss think you are a top performer? What would it feel like to have your kids proud of you? What would it feel like to see your body looking fit? What would it feel like to take your t-shirt off at the beach with pride?
What is your painful problem to solve?
By the way, you don’t get to talk to someone about their problem until you have a relationship of trust with that person. You can’t just dive in and say “we’ll make your pain go away!”. You have to begin a relationship of trust.
The best first step? Generosity. What can you give this person that they need? Often, it is your undivided, non-judgemental listening to what they have to say. Make them feel like they truly exist for you.
Toastmasters is a wonderful organisation for anybody who wishes to improve their ability to speak with impact.
However, there is something that has often challenged me with the “best” toastmaster speeches. They are very clearly the work of someone who has worked very, very, very hard on the words, gestures and voice that they use to deliver the speech. The “best” toastmaster speeches verge on the theatric and sometimes leave behind a sense of a natural conversation. Toastmasters evaluations can focus on bringing attention to symbols of hard work on the art of public speaking – big gestures, long pauses, wide ranges of volume, tone and pace in voice.
Why hide the art? Why would you want to go to the effort to hide the work you have done on being a great speaker?
Sims refers to a number of great political orators of the Athenian state. They knew that if the people saw them as relaxed and natural, they would be more open to listen to their ideas. If the people saw how much they worked on their ability to speak, the people would be worried about being manipulated by them.
It is a paradox – being visibly “too good” makes you less likely to connect and persuade.
Hiding the art does not mean that you intentionally are a poor speaker. It means what Bruce Lee refers to as Natural Un-Naturalness (see final paragraphs of post).
“The natural instinct and control need to be combined in harmony – one to the extreme you become very unscientific, the other you become a mechanical man… no longer a human being – the ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness… yin yang” Bruce Lee
The swan swims gracefully over the water of the pond – only the fish see how hard her little feet are paddling beneath the surface. This is the art of great speaking. The art is to go through theatrical and get back to looking authentic, human and natural.
Moving people to action requires that you go beyond the level of preparation that allows you to deliver an excellent performance and arrive at an ability to hold a peer-to-peer conversation with the audience.
The path to Natural must pass through Contrived
The path to natural unnaturalness must pass through “contrived unnaturalness” – you have to do the work to move through discomfort and expansion of your natural range as a speaker – and Toastmasters is the absolute best path. However, taking your message beyond toastmasters requires integrating the gestures, voice, words back into yourself so that the audience feels like you have not worked so hard. This way they trust the person and listen to the message, rather than are impressed by the person, but distrustful of the message.
Great artists mastered the basics over many, many years before they found the path back to what we might call “authentic” or natural.
I came across this paragraph in a blog post by sales professional Grant Cardone.
“No one buys a $57,000 watch to tell time. People buy things to solve problems. The cost of the item isn’t what matters. Once the buyer is able to see the problem the product solves, their decision becomes much easier to resolve. Get to the “why” and the sale will follow.” Grant Cardone (original article at Entrepreneur magazine)
How do you get someone to buy something that they do not need?
Just as nobody really buys a $57,000 watch to solve the problem of “what time is it”, nobody does an expensive MBA just because they want to know more about business. Nobody hires an expensive consultant just because they need to finish a simple project. Nobody hires an expensive coach just because they need help with discipline.
Cheap watches tell the time. Cheap MBAs teach you about business. Cheap consultants can get projects finished. Cheap coaches can help you with discipline.
A casio watch can be bought for €2.99. It tells the time as well as the $57,000 watch. Why are they different? The casio watch has 8 functions. The $57,000 watch tells the time, and the date. The casio watch allows me to change the time. The $57,000 watch requires a trained technician to move the clock forward an hour.
Why does someone pay the $56,997.01 difference (and get less functionality)?
There is something else we are buying when we buy.
“Bread and Water. Everything else is marketing.” Tony Anagor
I did an interview with Tony Anagor, one of the coaches who works with my Leadership Communications courses at IESE Business School. Tony said “Bread and water. Everything else is marketing.”
What did he mean?
Once I have food and shelter, I can survive. I don’t need anything else to survive. I want other things, but I don’t need them.
If I say “I need friends, I would die without my friends”: it is not literally true. I want friends. They make my life worth living. They add to my life. They are not needs in the way of food and shelter. I wouldn’t value highly a lonely life, without friends.
If I say “I need an iPad. All of my friends have an iPad.”: not true. I really, really want an iPad. However, the reason that I want it is the important thing for a salesman to find. Why do I so need an iPad?
I want it because it might remove the anguish of feeling left out. I want it because it might give me a sense of importance in having an “in-demand” item. I want it because I like playing with new technology. I want it because my friends are playing some online game and I am less connected because I am not involved.
Here are 6 keys to engage the reader when you ask for some help via email:
Indicate the social connection between sender and reader – where did you meet? who put you in contact? “We met at the Foundum Unplugged conference 2 weeks ago”
Understand the readers perspective – what context (background information) does the reader need to take a decision/act upon the email? This is often best provided as a url link to supporting information so as to keep the email body short.
Explain why the reader was specifically selected as a source of potential help. “I am contacting you because you have over 8 years of experience in the industry”
Show that you have already made some effort to understand the domain before asking for help. “I have spoken to X and to Y, I have read Z book.”
Keep it short. Many emails are much too long – the sender has no edit process before sending the “draft” email. (Here’s a nice email policy called three.sentenc.es)
Clarify exactly what is wanted: No effort to clarify what you are asking for. ”Help” is too vague. What do you want the reader to do when they finish reading? “Meet next Monday”; “Call me to set up a site visit”; “Forward the email to John”.