A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you


I am the mother of a gazillion teenage girls.

Ok, I exaggerate.


I have one daughter, Carolyn, but she comes with friends; specifically, she comes with an entire soccer team.


During tournament weekends, all of these young women stay with me.  I facilitate team building sessions throughout the weekend – girls work together, they play together, they cook together, they clean together, they learn together and they mature together.  I’ve had the privilege of working with them for years.

It is to these young women that I dedicate this post.


For the most part, Carolyn’s soccer team has played together since they were 8 or 9 years old.

Continuity – they have it.


Support – they give it.


Fun – there is always plenty to go around.


But while they have been state champions, they have also had their share of “character building” seasons.

Today, as I watched them warm up and anticipate the first blow of the whistle, I thought about planning.


As I watched them score their first goal and, within minutes give up one to the opposing team, I thought about success and opportunities for improvement.


As I watched them tire physically on the field as the wind whipped around their ponytails, I thought about the frustration one feels when resources are low and times are tough.


And as I watched some players leave the field relieved and some others disappointed after the final whistle ended the game in a tie, I thought of staff who are complacent and those who always want a little something more.


It was then that I looked to their coach and thought of leadership.


What is your team like?


Do they have continuity?

Are you blessed with some long timers with great history with the company?


Is your team supportive of each other? 

Do they offer each other advice, counsel and feedback?   Do they lend a hand?


Is your team having fun? 

Do you see them laugh and smile?


If so, you are well on your way to building a strong team, a team that is self regulated and self determined.  You are well on your way to building a team that will seek continuous improvement and continued learning!


You are lucky!   But your work is not yet done!



How often do you commit to involving your team with planning?  Do you engage your staff in this critical process or do you simply identify, delegate and defend?  Do you tell your staff the who, what, when, where and why of a project so they can anticipate it and visualize the work in their minds?



I’m willing to bet a tasty beverage that if you did, your team would:

  • Increase their engagement with their work,
  • Anticipate change, and
  • Adapt more quickly.



Celebrating Success and Identifying Opportunities for Improvement

How often do you celebrate the little things? When was the last time you challenged your team to identify what, if anything, they had learned from a major success or a big problem or failure?


I’m willing to bet a dozen donuts that if you did, your team would:

  • Develop their logical and critical thinking skills,
  • Have more ownership in improvement to process and service, and
  • Develop a competitive spirit.



Limited Resources and Increased Tough Times

I know that resources are decreasing, I know that customers are demanding more from you, I know that many of you are faced with M&Es that are anything but pleasant, etc.  I get it…times are tough.

Are you the victor or the victim of these problems?  Are you facing the wind, squaring your shoulders, inching forward and daring it to blow you over or are you turning your back to it and letting it push you down the field?  Where is your team as you amble by?



I’m willing to bet my BBQ rib recipe that if your team sees you facing the storm, they will:

  • Accept the challenge with just as much conviction and determination as you demonstrate,
  • Support each other, and
  • Use the energy to carry them to success, not push them to failure.



Complacency and the Quest for More

I’m sure there are members of your team demonstrating both of these qualities.  Some employees simply “exist” and some strive to “build.

(There is actually a third type…those who “cut” or “tear down” but thankfully, I didn’t see any of that exhibited on the soccer field today and hence, it’s left out of this story!) 


Do you know who your “existers” and “builders” are?  Have you ever wondered why your “existers” are complacent?  Is it an ability problem, a process problem or a willingness problem?  Have you discussed it with them?


Do you know what makes your “builders” build?  What motivates them?  What turns them on and gets them going?  Why do they want to learn, what drives them to develop and grow in their careers?


I am willing to bet my mom’s cheesecake recipe that identifying your team’s motivators, capitalizing on that knowledge and implementing some specific activities will help your team:

  • Become more engaged with each other…and you,
  • Become more productive,
  • Demonstrate more ownership,
  • Willingly accept more work/autonomy (and otherwise volunteer), and
  • Quit looking for a different job!



The soccer tournament continues on through the weekend.
My daughter’s team will surely have
their ups and downs.


  • They will look to their coach to guide them in their planning.


  • They will assume he will celebrate every success and, likewise, point out their opportunities for improvement. 


  • They will expect him to offer motivation and encouragement throughout the game.


  • And they will depend on him to identify and implement specific motivators when energy levels are down or the chips are stacked against them.


Thankfully, I am confident in my daughter’s coach…enough so that I typically bet a few things on his team! 🙂



What are you willing to wager on yours?





AppreciationEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsEncouragementHappinessHuman ResourcesLeadershipRecognitionRetentionTeamworkValue

Heather Kinzie • June 2, 2012

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