Some ingredients just go together like: pancakes & syrup, wine & cheese, kids & play, great leadership & passion. While I’m sure some of these pairings were discovered by accident, once you know about them, you really can’t enjoy them the same alone. During my own years as a Leader and as a Change Agent working with other Leaders, I’ve found that great Leaders and strong Team’s have a secret ingredient. That ingredient is “passion”…
In order to unlock the passion that lies within your team, there are five major areas to focus on:
Now, let’s dive into each of these to understand how to implement each area.
Identify Your Team’s Purpose
For many, trying to figure out your purpose is like trying to find water in the desert. The challenge is that whether you and your team spend time considering this or not, purpose exists. It’s probably just not an exciting one. Worse yet, from a team perspective it’s likely not well defined, which makes it different for everyone. I like to use the row boat analogy here…can you imagine a row boat where everyone thinks they are headed in the same direction, but they are all rowing in a different one?
So, what is your team’s purpose?
I know what you are thinking. I run a freakin’ hotdog stand…and you want us to find purpose? This may seem challenging. Yet it doesn’t need to be. Simply put, feeding hungry people in a fast, friendly, and affordable way could be it. The magic on this topic really comes from engaging the team itself and asking the question:
One last thing to note here is that setting goals that stretch (not break) your team’s capabilities is really, really important. Setting stale, easy, boring, or dry goals isn’t going to ignite a team. It just doesn’t work that way. If you really want things to spark, you need the fuel that comes from reaching towards something.
Identify Your Own Purpose
Now that the team’s purpose is more well defined. It’s time to for everyone to spend time on themselves. This starts with the Team Leader. The Leader needs to understand his or her place and what’s driving them so that they can help the other team members connect the dots from personal purpose to team purpose.
Admittedly, this is challenging! If you run a hotdog stand and your purpose is to save lives (as an example), then your personal purpose won’t line up with the team purpose. This unfortunately, is often the case. To make matters worse, as the individual team members define their purpose, they may come to the same conclusion. Oh boy, now what do we do?
Ideally, you ask the question…what can I do with my current situation that can help my own personal purpose? Ideally, it means adjusting the current situation to put each of your team members on track towards their personal purpose while also racing towards the team purpose.
If we use the example above, it could be that running the hotdog stand is going to pay for classes so that someday you can be an EMT. It could also mean that you offer a turkey dog on whole grain buns as a healthier option for your customers in the meantime. The trick is to find a path that does both!
It also goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway), that it could mean a realization that one of your current team members doesn’t belong on that team. That’s fantastic! I say that because now you can help them go towards their own purpose and find someone who can better support the team’s purpose.
This process isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you and your team spend some time on this, the ROI is limitless!!
Set up a Coaching / Mentoring Plan
Everyone can use a coach. A coach guides you, challenges you, and helps you see things from a different perspective. They invest in you and make you feel like you can win. While there are numerous styles of coaching and different ways to go about this, I suggest one simple process to start:
Set time aside, one-on-one, come prepared, and leave with actions.
This is not just for the team members and their leader. It’s imperative that the Leader gets this type of coaching as well. It’s common for leaders to skip this part. They think they are the ones that have to do all of the coaching. In fact, if they are giving coaching and not receiving it, then they are taking a big fat risk!
Remember, you have two ears and one mouth…you should be listening twice as much as you are talking.
Institute Learning & Growth Into Your Team’s Culture
Earlier we discussed the idea of setting goals and stretching your team. Learning works in the same way. When people get stale and think the know everything, they tend to get weaker. Inversely, there is nervousness, excitement, and energy when they have to learn something new. This is similar energy you get in a competition. You want this on your team!
So, institutionalize it. Make it part of your team behaviors…make it part of your culture. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by making a simple question part of your everyday process:
What did we learn today and what should we change because of that learning?
Again, you can put in place many different processes to help foster this. Here are some other ideas:
Start a non-fiction book club
Bring in guest speakers
Start doing lunch and learns (watch TedTalks together and discuss)
Start a recognition and reward program for team-members that learn new topics
Go on team visits to other sites to learn new processes
Visibly Measure Your Team’s Progress Towards Their Goals
Nothing is worse than working your tail off and not knowing if you are making a difference. That simply leads to not caring anymore. What I’ve found in reality is that the quicker you can give people clarity on their true north and how far they are from it, the quicker they will find a way to win.
Google maps is a great example of this. I remember the days that I used to use paper maps. You would plot your course at home, set out to find your destination, and somewhere along the way realize you’re not on the right track. Oftentimes, this led to late arrivals, numerous gas station pit stops, and stressed out passengers.
Google maps changed all of that. Your destination is clear. Your distance from that destination is well defined and your feedback is immediate.
No matter what happens, know that your team will find wins and losses. Leaders that ignore either of these, do so at their own peril!
If you’ve followed along so far, you know that becoming a learning team is critical. If you think about it, Winning and Losing both present great opportunities for learning. Taking the time to recognize either one and quickly learning from it is just another way to add fuel to your fire!
That said, there is a component of emotion attached to both. Winners can have that excitement and rush of feeling on top of the world, while Losers can feel the sting of defeat and worthlessness.
The great thing is that by recognizing the wins and celebrating, you get to use that winning emotion towards your learning for future wins. Make sure to applaud individual performance, but focus keenly on the team. Keep a balanced approach here so that you keep everyone on the team engaged. If you find yourself applauding one individual too much or too often, it can have the opposite effect on the others.
Most professional football teams do a post-game analysis. I know that sounds cold-blooded, but truth be told, you need to be somewhat cold about this process. Simply ask the question…“What did we do that worked and what did we do that didn’t?”. Often times teams will not see things clearly because of the emotion attached to the loss. It’s really important that you and your team get real. It helps by asking the question, “How can we win next time?”
Decisions are made everyday, several times a day that prime leaders to get the most from their team. Think about the Olympic athletes that compete every four years. Do you think passion for running or cycling (or whatever) is the only thing that makes them successful? Heck no!
What they eat & drink, when the sleep, how long they sleep, what altitude they practice at, etc. It all matters! The trick here is accepting that all of these things impact their ability to compete & win. So what does that have to do with leading with passion?
Passion is the fuel that runs the team engine to new levels!
In reality, finding passion in everyday tasks, consistently is not easy. Humans ebb and flow constantly looking for a steady state. It’s just too easy to focus on the tasks & processes at hand, forgetting about the passion and purpose of the people that carry them out.
I challenge you and your team to strive for more! Dream big! Learn big! Win big!