Over the years people have written a lot on this topic and there are tons of literature available. I have tried to compile my experience in this small piece of writing. Learning has always been at the forefront of my values and I try to root that deeply within any team I have worked with till date.
Below are some traits I see and will be seeking to build within a team in order for me to build a winning team.
1. Know your team
As a leader, understand each team members analyze their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you carve out a plan while working on a problem. You try to blend those traits in a manner which will help you to get the best out of each one while compensating the weaknesses. i.e. I am personally not so good at identifying issues on a database, but one of my peers is very good at that. I usually hand her the ownership of database and till date, it has worked really well!!
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” — Mother Teresa
The common factor among any winning team is communication. More you communicate more you build trust. This will also help your team express what is working and what is not for in a team, which is very critical to evaluate a project or business per says. There are ways to achieve this. i.e. You can have a 10 mins stand up each day or take your team over a coffee or do anything that it takes in order to make team talk personally with each other. Make every one of them talk. Practice it day in day out. The benefit of this trait is that people feel more included and they can express it freely without hesitation as they start thinking as a team and not an individual.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes
3. Set right expectation
Make it very clear to your team that they should be speaking for the team and not for themselves. Letting your team know what is expected out of them is the most important ingredient of a successful team setup. Clarity is power, the more clear your team is in what you want to achieve as a team the easier it gets to reach your goals. Meeting team goals is the toughest task and it is achieved by setting the right expectation. Each of the team members should know what is expected out of them so while some may fail, other will stand up for him/her to meet that expectation as at the back of their mind is the team and not individual goals.
“You can’t expect everyone to have the same dedication as you.” — Jeff Kinney
Confidence in peers will be imminent to a winning team. It is a trait that every great team possessed. The way to build it is to communicate and retrospect. Software development teams have many legs and they are all bound to fall in right place at right time in order to deliver expectation in time. As a leader first it is your job to make sure the team has to trust on each other, post that the team should trust leader’s instincts.
“I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business.” — Harvey Firestone
5. Right motivation
As a leader, it is your job to find out what motivates your team. It can be a small walk to a tea stall near your office or a pizza in a lunch break or a bottle of 18 years old whiskey. No matter what it is, find that & offer that time and again. I have worked with people whose sole motivations were to work on a particular technology. I made sure he works on that as much as he can till I am the in charge. He delivered great outputs for the team and that’s what mattered in the end. A happy and motivated team will always be more efficient than a team which is not in a good mental state. You can pick the team of all-stars who are not motivated and I bet a team of motivated rookies will give them a tough time.
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential? These are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Eddie Robinson
6. Set milestones and evaluate
Let your team define milestones, work with them to achieve it. Keep evaluating those milestones time and again. At times you might have set a smaller target but due to reason or two team may be falling short of achieving it. Evaluating the failures is what makes a team good; analyzing success and making it practice makes a team great and sustainable. Make sure you keep experimenting with the team but not much to disturb the winning combination. Hitting the winning combination is a process which will take a lot of experimenting, maintaining it will be done by practicing the best methods which lead your team to success in first place. That will only come by evaluating the milestones.
“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” — Jonas Salk
The winning team often is a team of leaders. If you are leading a team and dream of making a winning team, it is your job to create leaders and not mere followers and/or yes men. The first and foremost trait of a leader is taking accountability of tasks assigned to them. I as a leader should be held accountable for the failure of my team. Each team member in the team should know what they are accountable for and shall be always on their toes to get that done. It is as easy as taking your own job seriously and do what you signed up for.
“At the end of the day we are accountable to ourselves — our success is a result of what we do.” — Catherine Pulsifer
8. Stay humble
When you are leading a team and if you want to make winning a habit, do not let success get in your team’s head. The moment that happens team members will start focusing more on winning then to do what they love. Keep your team grounded, have them relax after winning and keep them focused on achieving the next goal rather than just laying down celebrating one small achievement for weeks. Staying humble after the win and hungry for more knowledge is the way to go.
“There are no secrets to success, be humble, be hungry. Always be the hardest worker in the room.” — Dwayne Johnson
9. Keep the conflicts within team, market the good outcomes
When your team has people with varied perception it is bound to have conflicts. The debates within a war room to achieve the best results. As a leader, you should practice to market the outcome and not how heated the debate was or who won the debate or what was the best argument in the room. Make this same value an example for the rest of the team members as well. This will create an aura of positiveness around your team which is pretty difficult to beat as you are stronger as a team.
“A team is only as strong as its weakest player.” — Anonymus
10. Saviour the failure as a team
It is ok to fail. Every successful corporation would have failed at some point in time. Difference between a winning team and one season wonders are that winning team will analyze the failure and try to extract what didn’t work.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”― Robert F. Kennedy
I would not say that above are the only traits of a winning team but these are the key values I use in order for my team to keep a consistency in the winning. Usually, a winning team is contagious, the energy that it posses can change the mindset of an organization and would take them to new highs.