The Art of Team Building: How to do it and Why it's So Important

August 14, 2017

Deke Copenhaver

Leadership Focus is written by Deke Copenhaver, Principal with Copenhaver Consulting LLC. The former mayor of Augusta, a triathlete, writer and runner, Deke is focused on transforming great ideas into great actions.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that no great accomplishment has ever been fully realized without a tremendous amount of team work. In a world which often prizes individual achievements, it’s ultimately the connection between individuals with a common goal, purpose, and objective that can move mountains or overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

As a leader, surrounding yourself with good people and assembling a capable team is an absolute must in order to achieve any objective you may have. Whether it’s growing your company’s bottom line, effectively addressing the mission of your non-profit, or effectively governing whatever organization you may be a part of, there’s no real road to sustainable success that doesn’t involve a true team effort.

Successfully assembling a team with a focus on chemistry, connectivity, and achieving your desired outcome, can be a daunting task to say the least. From Chief Executive Officers to head coaches and every leadership position in between, there’s absolutely no shortage of people who’ve lost their jobs or their livelihoods because they made the wrong choices when assembling the team around them.

During my lifetime I’ve become fascinated with organizational structure and team building. Having been a partner in a small business, a non-profit executive director, and a mayor, I’ve had the opportunity to help assemble and be a part of some very successful teams along the way. With this in mind I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned through the process. Here are five easy ways to begin your efforts to build a team.
1.) Know your limitations
In leadership positions it’s often much more valuable to know what you don’t know than what you do know. Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you are is always a good way to start your team building. Keeping your ego in check and avoiding the pitfall of wanting to be the smartest person in the room goes a long way towards building a successful team.
2.) Build your team by skill sets and talents
Always remember that forming a team is completely different from appointing a committee. Team members should be specifically chosen for the skill sets and talents they bring to the table. A focus on mixing members with the necessary skill sets, as well as intangibles like good character and a positive attitude, to achieve your desired outcome will help to ensure your team’s future success.
3.) Have clear and attainable goals and objectives for your team
Teams always function best when they have a clear goal in front of them. As your team’s leader, you’re responsible for setting that goal and for making sure that everyone on your team knows what that is. A laser focused approach for your team will go a long way towards achieving success while a scatter shot approach can pretty much ensure the opposite.
4.) Let your team know their work is valued and appreciated
Let’s face it, the act of achieving any goal or objective you’ve set for your team takes lots of hard work. Never forget to thank your team for their efforts and to let them know how much they’re appreciated individually and as a whole. Just the simple act of saying thank you is one of the most important components of team building and remember to do it as often as you possibly can.
5.) Whenever possible make the game fun for your team
Although team work can be stressful at times there’s always time for your team to have some fun. In leading a team it’s always good to lighten things up whenever possible. During my time serving as mayor I don’t believe there was one stress free day but I also don’t believe a day went by where our team didn’t have a laugh or crack a smile. Remember, as the team leader you set the tone and helping your team enjoy what they’re doing as much as possible will go a long way towards achieving your goals.

With most endeavors we undertake in life there’s usually a real art to achieving success; team building is no different. Learning how to spot talent in places other people might not think to look, and to begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together in just the right way, can achieve extraordinary results with the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts.

Learning the art of team building doesn’t come over night and takes hard work, but in the end there’s no better feeling than putting together and being a part of a great team. 

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