Building an Optimal Team – Team Health

By Jeff Wolf –  Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All the competitive advantages – strategy, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your company apart. Why? Virtually every organization has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.

Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.

Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.

Four Disciplines

To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Get the leaders of the organization to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running a team, department, or organization are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade down and prevent organizational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.
  1. Create clarity. Ensure that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organization exists and what the most important priority is for the next few months, and eliminate any gaps between them   Then people who work one, two, or three levels below have clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful.
  1. Overcommunicate clarity. After the first two steps (behavioral and intellectual alignment), leaders can take the third step: over-communicating. Leaders of healthy organizations constantly repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little.
  1. Reinforce clarity. Leaders use simple human systems to reinforce clarity in answering critical questions. They custom design any process that involves people from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making to support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization.

Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.

Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.

–Jeff Wolf

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams:, 858-638-8260 or

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Teamwork and Strong Teams

Effective leaders know that their organizations will realize substantial benefits by building strong teams to reach their objectives and strategic goals. Bringing people together on the same page is highly effective because people can accomplish more collectively than individually.


Every participant brings a unique skillset to the team. Some may be highly creative at coming up with new ideas, others may excel at details, and some have the ability to move the group’s ideas forward and follow through to completion. It’s rare to find one person who has all of these skills. By working together and combining what everyone brings to the table, the group’s goals will be realized much faster.


Teamwork also builds camaraderie and encourages open communication. When every member is focused on a single outcome, strong relationships and trust are built, one of the most important aspects of teamwork, if not the most. Every team member must have complete trust in fellow participants as well as faith in others’ desire to work in the best interests of the team and company.


When building a strong team, leaders should look at each member’s strengths and abilities to determine whether the group can gel. When there’s a good fit, teams combine their strengths to achieve the group’s overall goals. Leaders should also nurture team growth and development to ensure everyone contributes in a positive way.


To build strong teams, develop a team culture that includes:


  • Defined expectations, clear goals, objectives, and shared vision.
  • An established timeline with individual and team accountability.
  • A clearly articulated purpose for the team’s existence.
  • Team members’ complete acknowledgement of the roles they play.
  • Well-defined processes/procedures on how work will be done.
  • Team access to all available resources required to reach the goal.
  • A diverse team composed of members with complementary skills.
  • Individual and group commitment to the work to be performed.
  • The shared knowledge that each team member is valued and will be rewarded for hard work and effort.
  • Clear, honest, and open communication among all team members.
  • Rules of conduct, including steps to resolve emerging conflicts.


As companies struggle to become more innovative, teams will become more important. Bringing together people with multiple skills and competencies leads to innovative products, services, and strategies.




Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams:, 858-638-8260 or


According to a Deloitte University Survey, leadership remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations around the world, with 86% of respondents rating it urgent or important. Only 13% of respondents say they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels.


Our newest Leadership Development Program will be customized to fit your specific needs.

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Fear of Failure is Dangerous to Your Job Health

Fear of making a mistake can cripple even the most talented leader’s efforts to succeed. It stifles creativity and discourages risk-taking, while upping the stress ante and creating a tense work environment for everyone within a department or team.

Imagine how many inventions and technological innovations would never have become realities if the people who came up with them had been afraid to fail!

Anyone who ever did anything truly great failed first. Failure is part of trying. It will happen. What matters is how you deal with it. Famous failures include Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Michael Jordan. They prove failure can be a powerful teacher that leads to success.

Worrying about making mistakes is counterproductive, zaps your energy, and leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may irrationally fear that you’ll never be good enough and that you’ll face the disapproval of other negative feelings if you’re less than perfect. This can cripple you, especially as you move up the career ladder and take on new responsibilities that are outside of your comfort zone.

Hara Estroff Marano, editor-at-large for Psychology Today describes perfectionism as “a steady source of negative emotions.” She explores how our performance should not be a measure of our self-worth.” “Rather than reaching toward something positive, those in perfectionism’s grip are focused on the very thing they most want to avoid – negative evaluation,” she writes. “Perfectionism, then, is an endless report card; it keeps people completely self-absorbed, engaged in perpetual self-evaluation, reaping relentless frustration and doomed anxiety and depression.”

I encourage managers and leaders to write down their fears. This forces them to acknowledge these anxieties and dissect the faulty logic that may paralyze them. Consider keeping a journal that tracks what’s bothering you and how you react to missteps. Does one type of error bother you more than another? Are you better able to recover from a mistake when you’re having a good day? What, exactly, are you feeling? Humiliation? Embarrassment? Depression? A sense of even greater fear? How can you use reality checks to weaken the hold these feelings have on you?

You need to practice being unafraid. Perform at 100% of your capacity, and recognize that mistakes will still occur in rare circumstances, despite your best efforts to prevent them. Needless to say, if you make huge errors regularly, you may be in way over your head.

If you’re a leader or manager who is plagued with chronic anxiety and unrealistic perfectionism, you must learn to diffuse the fear time bomb so you can succeed at the work you love.


Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams:, 858-638-8260 or


The Wall Street Journal reports that, by 2020, there is likely to be a shortage of approximately 40 million high- skilled workers around the world. Which means you will need to rely on developing and promoting current employees instead of finding outside talent to meet the needs of your organization.

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

Articles in the Media


On Sale Now

Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All proceeds go to our wounded service men and women.

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