The Essential Ingredient for Teams to Perform at Their Peak

The Essential Ingredient for Teams to Perform at Their Peak

Sam Obitz – May 2017

What came to your mind first? Great leadership, cohesion, exceptional communication or perhaps respect for one another? Certainly, all of those components are required for a team to perform optimally, but none of those things are possible without TRUST.

Without a foundation of trust to build on, not one of your team’s accomplishments will ever be as great as they could be with it. Exceptional teams begin with this and build outward.

It all starts at the top of the organization, so the members of the team must first trust their leader. Any organization without trust in their leader will under perform (and often outright fail) regardless of the amount of skill and expertise on the team itself.

So, you may ask, how does a leader gain the trust of those on their team? There is more than one way to gain the trust of those around you. However, there are many factors that tend to be present in most situations where the leader has a high level of trust.

At the top of that list would be authenticity. You have to know who you are and what you stand for, or people will see right through you. In addition, you cannot preach one thing, do another, and expect people to fall for it for long. This is called ‘walking your talk’ and there is no quicker way to engender respect than living your life this way. I have seen instances where coaches or leaders have blinked just once, which led to their downfall as well as their team’s. As soon as you blink, you open the door for everyone else on your team to start cutting corners as well.

Also high on the list would be what I call heart or compassion. As the great coach John Wooden was fond of saying, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” People will go to the end of the Earth for you and each other when they feel valued and cared for.

Being consistent and fair is another key component in gaining the trust of others. People mistakenly think this means I believe leaders have to treat everyone on the team the same. What this means to me is that you treat everyone the way they deserve to be treated. Ideally, everything would be earned and all people would be held accountable for their actions. A subset of this would the necessity to be straight with everyone and not dance around things. People may not always like it when you tell them the truth, but they will gain your respect when you do and lose it quickly when you don’t. A side benefit of telling it like it is, is that it prevents further pain down the road.

Once the leader has established that he or she is trustworthy, the next step is getting the team members to trust each other. I’m going to hit on two key components here. The first is a shared vision for the team. It is imperative that everyone on the team strives to reach the same goal through an agreed upon process. Once team members know what their responsibilities are and how their task affects other members on the team, who are relying on them, bonds will begin to be forged.

The second component is the one that I believe separates the good from the truly exceptional, getting to know your teammates on a deeper human level. I cannot stress this enough! When you form bonds with people, you naturally view what is good about them through a magnifying glass and what’s bad about them through reverse binoculars (which has the effect of making things appear tiny). This causes team members to give each other the benefit of the doubt when things go poorly, the net effect of which is reduced or removed animosity among teammates. This results in more energy and focus for the team to put towards its shared goals.

Once you develop a foundation of trust, you will be able to be a better leader, develop cohesion, and have exceptional communication and respect for one another. It will also make all other things you want to do easier to accomplish as well.

Remember, ‘It takes time to build trust, mere seconds to break it, and forever to repair it.”

Understanding The Art Of Relationship Brokering

Understanding The Art Of Relationship Brokering

Understanding The Art Of Relationship Brokering


By Carol Weaving

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the fulcrum of our economic engine; not only in South African but across the African continent. In South Africa, they provide employment to about 60% of our labour force and they plug-in various gaps in a number of industry value chains, facilitating the effective running of said industries.


Equally important, SMEs are, as South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor, Francois Groepe asserts, “an essential conduit whereby millions of people enter the economic and social mainstream of a society.”


Through small businesses, the everyman has relatively unfettered access to an otherwise cryptic and many a time, exclusive realm. At a time when our economy needs us all to pull and push together, they present an effective pathway to economic inclusion.

With this in mind, supporting small businesses could not be more urgent. In South Africa, SMEs make up 91% of formalised businesses and are responsible for 34% of our GDP. These are huge numbers that can be bigger the more support there is for SMEs.


We need platforms that facilitate entrepreneurship and small business growth, like the Small Business Expo which is the evolution of 20 years of Thebe Reed Exhibitions’ dedication to entrepreneurship.


The exhibition, focuses on facilitating relationship brokering between small business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, franchisors, corporate leaders and business hubs and incubators. Through effective relationship brokering, small business owners connect and support each other, and grow their establishments.


1. Know your own story, and know it well

Sharing your story – whether it’s your business proposition, your skill set or a project you are working on – is a determinant of successful relationship brokering. You have to know your story, and know it well enough to share it in a compelling manner. Your story is part of the collateral you leave any prospective business connections.


2. Relationship brokering builds social capital

Your own and the social capital of those around you. It’s a process that, when done right, builds your influence and profiles your authority. Not only do you get a chance for people to know you, but also for people to get to know what you do and the pedigree you possess as a business owner, entrepreneur or professional. You position yourself, on an uninterrupted stage that is formal yet relaxed and personal.


3. Relationship brokering is about building sustainable communities of people and businesses that complement each other

It’s about fostering collaboration where synergies exist and enabling connections where business opportunities exist. Beyond that, a successfully built community becomes the support structure to members of its network.


4. Build and maintain bridges

Don’t put yourself first. Pay attention to your business associates and connections. Ascertain their needs and assist them in addressing those needs. During that process, you profile your own skill set and showcase what you and your business can do. This is important as relationship brokering is only self-serving to a point. If it becomes a one-way street, connections crumble because no one wants to be involved in a one-way relationship.


5. Relationship brokering facilitates sharing

Relationships are about mutual value and this mutual value is not only monetary but also about shared objectives, visions and ambitions. This connection must allow parties to draw value strategically for the outcome of a business endeavour or opportunity. The shared value can include knowledge, skills transference or specialist experience – whatever the attribute, achieving mutual value is the objective of the relationship.


6. Quality trumps quantity

Relationship brokering is not a business card collection contest after all. Focus on those businesses and personalities who are stakeholders in your industry’s value chain. Always remember that one quality business relationship surpasses a rolodex of business cards who have no link to your work or industry.


7. Do follow up. Do reach out

Many of us do more than enough sharing of contact details but not enough following up and reaching out. Follow up to legitimise the connection and start building a relationship.

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

By Lonnie Pacelli

Some time back one of my managers sent out an email announcing that we had just won an account. This was a very big deal for us as our product was new to the marketplace and we were working hard to gain acceptance with customers. Several of us responded to the email expressing our excitement over the new account. One of my managers responded with “I’ve got concerns” and listed off a series of issues with servicing the account. All of the issues that the manager brought up were valid issues; the problem is that I didn’t know who was expected to do what regarding the issues.

I asked the manager that raised the issues to get in a room with a couple of other managers and put some resolution to the issues. Fortunately, there was no friction in the request and the managers got to work to outline each issue and put forth a suggested approach for how to deal with the issue. About an hour later the team of managers responded with a solid approach that would be taken which worked for everyone and addressed all of the concerns raised.

We’ve all experienced the person who had no problem at all saying “I’ve got concerns” to just about anything but offered nothing constructive in terms of suggested resolutions. The culprit wants to be the one to raise the issue and wants someone else to take ownership to resolve the problem. That dog don’t hunt with me.

When situations like this happen with me, I like to have the one that raises the issue get with a small subset of interested parties to come up with a resolution to the issue, and hold the person who raised the issue accountable for reporting back to the rest of the team as to the resolution. What I’ve found in doing this is that the quality of the solution is much better than a solution that any one person could have come up with because the interested stakeholders have all put their thumb-print on the resolution.

Next time one of your team members raises an issue, consider putting the issue back to a few of your team members, asking the person who raised the issue to drive resolution to the issue, and reporting back to the team the proposed resolution. You’ll get a better quality resolution and you’ll reduce churn with the team.


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6 Reasons to Work Like An Athlete and Think Like A Champion

6 Reasons to Work Like An Athlete and Think Like A Champion

By Kym Gordon Moore

Why are we so captivated by athletes? Why do corporate environments seek and hire athletes or athletically minded candidates? What drives a company to want to fill their roster with a team of players who may not have the career experience for specific vacant positions but have the relentless hunger to learn?

Every sport has a championship game. The NFL has the Super Bowl, the NHL has the Stanley Cup, the MLB has the World Series and the PGA has the Masters Tournament. When we think about champion thinkers to hire for our organizations, we examine the traits and work ethic athletes possess. While we are not necessarily looking to employ a roster of athletes for our business, here are some of their attributes we can apply towards leadership and innovation:

  1. Athletes have their goals in sight. They understand that effectiveness promotes efficiency. They know that failure is only a prerequisite for success, which makes them work harder.
  2. They have an entrepreneurial mindset. They see a bigger vision and they think strategically to turn their objectives into action. They turn short-term sights into long-term goals.
  3. Athletes are relentless, deal with the inevitable and never quit. They fight to the bitter end even if their game results in a loss. If they are defeated, they review footage of what went wrong and seek healthy ways to physically and strategically tackle the challenge again. They push themselves hard to get through their personal and team challenges.
  4. Many champion athletes have a unique approach to their game. With respect to their specialized skill sets, they have developed an exclusive way of playing the game. For example, Serena Williams has a unique two-handed backhand grip that is not the typical backhand stroke used in tennis. Her aggressive baseline style of play is a lethal weapon in her quest to outwit her opponent and win.
  5. Athletes know how critical a healthy lifestyle is to their performance. A healthy eating plan, exercise, and adequate rest are critical for optimum functionality. The consequences are too great without maintaining balance in nutrition, fitness, energy, sleep and overall good mental and physical health.
  6. Athletes understand the “team player” creed. They know each team member depends on the each other. They leverage their strengths and improve on their weakness. Team players train to have each other’s back. Their contribution towards the overall success of the entire organization affects the top, right on down to the bottom tier of the organization. If they only look out for “self” and get lost in their ego, it is not only self-defeating but team-defeating.

Organizations, whether profit or nonprofit look for champion thinkers who will become advocates and encouragers with a contagious work ethic. Businesses understand that overcoming obstacles is the key to success. That success depends on training, attitude, commitment, respect, overall fitness, collaboration and the hunger for the potential to grow. Such athletic traits are key to champion thinking.

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Facts About the Employer and Employee Mentality

Facts About the Employer and Employee Mentality


There exists a very great difference in the way of thinking between an employer and an employee. These two people literally live in two different planets so to speak. Their reasoning, behavior and the general perception of life is stunningly parallel. One is a leader while the other is a faithful follower and that is what makes them correlate.

The mentality of an employer holds the genesis of the decision to becoming the “boss” and not the “slave”. There are set of characteristic behaviors that end up making one person to be an employer, and the other an employee. The below 3 points encompasses the mind-set of an employer.

Risk taking
One major characteristic that the employer-minded possess is the power to take risks. They tend not to care about the common “what if things go wrong” question; that the employee-minded fight with. Literary, the boss-minded are “professional” risk takers. They have high self-motivation for beginning projects from scratches and staying power to achieve a target.

This is another ideal character exhibited by the so called entrepreneurs. They can study a community and create a product that can in the end be a basic necessity in the market. They spend most of their time trying to come up with products or services that can answer certain needs in the society.

Long term planners
Almost all employers have this habit. They always tend to look into the future of a society and how they can stay relevant in their business. Mostly their home calendars as well as office calendars are full of tags pointing to forthcoming events, meetings and other valuable appointments.

On the other hand, the employee-minded have their own unique way of peeping into maters. 99 percent of them are job seekers. They tend to have a “must see to believe” kind of attitude, which makes it hard to start anything from scratches. So what makes an employee?

Risk avoidance
All people working as employees tend to be extremely careful when it comes to risk taking. In fact, they better avoid taking any form of risk; leave alone considering a business idea. Their way of thinking is traceable way back from when they were young; it has been proved that most “employees” were good at adhering to school rules and regulations, as opposed to the “employers” who portrayed exploratory characteristics.

They whole heartedly propel existing ideas
The employee-minded are so good in propelling an already existing idea. They can build on another person’s vision so easily or even make it more excellent. A manager of an existing company will always want to outshine any former employees that sat on that managerial seat. While the employer-minded, will have a heavy heart establishing another person’s business.

Plan implementation
Most employees strive to ensure effective execution of already existing plans and strategies. They don’t really have to manufacture a plan of their own but they can borrow their director’s mind and work towards his or her plan, which makes them very important to a company.


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