4 Keys to Building a Winning Team


I’m an avid sports fan. It’s fascinating to me when you think about the minute differences between successful teams and those that continually seem to have challenges. They all have talent, right? At the end of the day, I believe it’s the little things that make such a big difference; whether it be how a coach runs his practices, to preparation and leadership on and off the field.

I recently read an article on how Doug Pederson, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, transformed the organization into a Super Bowl winning team in such a short period of time. Now, I’m not an Eagles fan, but I am a Chiefs fan and Pederson was on the staff there for a number of years so I always like to see how and what coaches learn and do differently from the head coaches they mentored under. Pederson believes there are four keys to building a winning organization/team. Think about how they apply to your situation and the teams you are leading or participating on.

1. Cultivate Relationships

Pederson believes healthy relationships “are rooted in transparency, directness, openness, and honesty.” At Interstates, we focus on psychological safety and these 4 attributes fit nicely into that topic. How are you doing this? Are you getting to know the people on your teams? Do you understand what motivates them, what inspires them, what their goals are – not just at work?

2. Focus on Communication

Are your people really being heard? Have you created a safe environment for questions, feedback, even trying something different? If you happened to watch the Super Bowl the Eagles ran a trick play where their quarterback caught a pass from another player for a touchdown – that play was called by the QB-Nick Foles, not Pederson. Do you trust your people enough to “call the right play” or “make the tough decision?” Do they know you have their back if things don’t go as hoped, or aren’t going to take the credit if their idea/actions help the team win?

3. Provide Clarity

This is all about people understanding the “why..” As leaders, we can sometimes make things too complicated. We talk about adding value for our clients. Do you truly understand how you are adding value in your role? Take the time to think about this, work with your teams to understand this so there is clarity and understanding.

4. Culture of Accountability

At Interstates, we have a strong safety culture that we work to maintain every day. It’s important, it sets us apart from other organizations, and it attracts people to work with us. Pederson has 4 principles that he tries to drill into the Eagles culture: a. Create energy every day (are your people motivated?) b. Eliminate distractions (are you giving your teams the tools and direction to do there jobs well?) c. Fear nothing (do your teams know it’s ok to make mistakes – that accountability is not about “blame?”) d. Attack everything (are your teams getting better everyday and having fun doing it?).

None of these principles are new or earth shattering. They’re likely things many of you are already doing today. Yet, they’re little things that can make a big difference in how our teams perform. Hopefully they can help you as you continue to lead the Interstates way!

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Doug Brunsting, Interstates Vice President of Regional Offices