Our entire existence depends on teams. Everything from giant corporations to small businesses to marriages to families to friendship, each demands a high-performing team in order to be successful. If you want to increase your team effectiveness at both work and home then take charge now and practice these powerful habits.

Here are 21 Real Life Habits for Success to Build Your Team. (You can also listen to the audiobook for free).

“All winning teams are goal oriented. Teams like these win consistently because everyone connected with them concentrates on specific objectives.” Lou Holtz

1. DEFINE THE GOAL OF THE TEAM. A team is gathered together because a larger goal is set that one individual cannot achieve by them self. What is the goal of the team? Why has the team come together—to achieve what goal or objective? Make it clear. Make it known. If you are part of a team and you do not understand the goal, it is your responsibility to clarify it. It is essential that the team be reminded of the goal and the purpose or direction.

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

2. FULFILL YOUR OBLIGATION. Give 100 percent of yourself. Do your absolute very best to do your part. Unless you do your part within the equation then the equation will not work. You don’t have to be a renowned physicist to understand this concept. Just make it happen. You want to be named as the person when someone says: “I want that person on my team.” How do you make that happen? By being seen as someone who always follows through and can be relied upon to get the job done—a person who brings value to the team. If you are not going to fulfill your obligations then don’t take on the responsibility in the first place. Unless you do your part within the equation then the equation will not work. You don’t have to be a renowned physicist to understand this concept.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan

3. DEFINE THE EXPECTATIONS OF ALL TEAM MEMBERS. This also includes what the measurable objectives of the team are, and each persons role in that measurement. To create a team that works together well, all members must know and agree on what it is they are going to contribute to the team’s purpose and what types of behaviors are appropriate. Put it in writing, review expectations at meetings, prior to large projects, and definitely before new projects begin. When expectations are clearly defined it takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. Take assumptions out of the equation by clearly defining expectation. Don’t make it an international mystery. Spell out what needs to be done, who needs to do it, why it needs to be done, by when, how and where.

4. TREAT EVERYONE AS IMPORTANT. Most people are so busy in their own lives that they aren’t in the least bit interested in the lives of others. Why should they be? No one seems to be concerned for them! The truth is that your life will be beautifully enhanced by tuning into the lives of others. It would be hard to invent a better way to feel good about yourself. Listen carefully to others; allow people to express their thoughts and feelings; listen.

5. EXPRESS AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT. A team is not effective unless it is able to discover and express inefficiencies within the team. Be open to informing others of ways to improve. Also be open to others sharing with you how you can improve. Unless you continually improve you’ll be destined to the same old results. Avoid the common “ignore it and it will go away” syndrome. Meet team improvements head-on. It sure can be hard, but do it anyway! Sometimes improving a team means letting go of team members and allowing them to join other teams.

“We shall hang together, or assuredly, we shall hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin

6. EMPHASIZE SHARED GOALS. Yes, it’s about you. Seriously! Deep down we do what is in our own best interest. Yet, to create a powerful team requires a variation to that approach, while not necessarily surrendering your personal goals. People are drawn closer together when they have a similar aim or when their goals can be mutually satisfied. The adage “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” applies. Give attention to how your cooperative efforts can help one another achieve a higher level of success as opposed to doing it alone.

“The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.” Albert Camus

7. ALLOW OTHERS TO BE RIGHT. This does not mean you are a “yes” person. This does not mean someone wins or someone loses an argument. Giving someone else the chance to be genuinely heard and respected can be far more satisfying than attempting to convince someone that you are right and they are wrong. More accurately, communication breaks down and eventually that relationship diminishes. Take the higher view; allow others to speak their mind—and to be right.

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” Andrew Carnegie

8. APPRECIATE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS. Give credit when credit is due. Cite your sources, publicly applaud the ideas of others and recognize the people in your life that have helped you. A deep sense of admiration and respect is built when a person gives credit to others. The opposite occurs when a person claims all the credit for him or herself; people will go out of their way to sabotage another out of severe lack of respect. Prevent lack of respect by giving respect and appreciation, sincerely. William James, the father of American psychology noted, “The deepest principle in human nature is craving to be appreciated.”

 9. MAKE A VERBAL COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW THROUGH. Let it be known—and of course— follow through. A fast way to demolish relationships, shatter credibility and disrespect yourself is by not following through when you say you are going to do something. If there’s a doubt in your mind that you might not follow through with an appointment, a task or a project, then don’t commit yourself. However, a verbal or a public commitment is a great way to help you follow through! It is also a great way to bring a team together when each person on the team verbally makes a pledge to the success of the team.

10. EMBRACE DIVERSITY WITHIN THE TEAM. This habit can be tough. Running a marathon of 26.2 miles might be easier. Accept others for who they are, not for who you want them to be. This is far easier said than done. You might not want to sport purple hair, but maybe your son or daughter might. You might enjoy reading books while your significant other prefers to watch television. One of your co-workers talks real slow and you speak real fast A key to increasing your acceptance is to remind yourself of how boring life would be if we were all alike! Equally as important is the varying of ideas, perspectives, and insights that are needed to solve problems and achieve the goals of a team.

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters

11. COMPLIMENT THE IDEAS AND WORK OF OTHER PEOPLE. Acknowledge your friends and peers when they do a great job. Too often people don’t compliment others for their contributions. It takes only a few seconds to offer an accolade or a few kind words of appreciation. Tell your kids that you’re proud of them, thank someone for his or her keen insight, praise a diligent co-worker, tell your spouse you appreciate his or her work. Say it out loud. Others are much more likely to help you if they feel their efforts are noticed.

“One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

12. BE AWARE OF THE INDIVIDUAL REALITIES OF OTHERS. Take the time to tune into what really matters to others. Read between the lines. Think of the rights and feelings of others rather than your own. We tend to think in terms of our own reality, believing that it is the same reality others share. Learn how to adjust your communication style in order to appeal to your audience’s reality. A good way to understand a person’s reality is to ask yourself this question: “How does this person view the world and his or her place in it?” This is more of an appreciation of perspectives rather than a sell-out of ideals.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford

13. PICK A TEAM CAPTAIN. Indecisiveness and chaos ensues when a team does not have a team captain. All sports teams have one because it helps the team. A team without a captain is like a body without a head. The team captain can change from project to project too. This allows each person on the team to learn how to be a team captain and the responsibility that goes with it. A team captain should be chosen on that person’s strength in a given area. If a team is working on solving a computer issue, the best team captain might be someone who is a computer geek, not someone who does not even know how to use a computer. Before engaging on a team project pick your team captain. Then, let that team captain lead.

14. ALLOW FOR CORDIAL AND HONEST DEBATE. Disagreements, opposing opinions, different viewpoints need to be encouraged. One way is not always the best way. Most likely a combination of collective viewpoints leads to a stronger team. The problem a team faces is name-calling, animosity, and fighting when differing viewpoints are shared. Yes, all team members must agree on what the goal or objectives are, but keep in mind that there are many ways to peel a potato. It is also best to keep debate and disagreements within the team behind closed doors. If there is dissention within the team, the only ones that need to know about it are those that are on the team.

15. KEEP COMMUNICATIONS OPEN AND ONGOING. Who is on first base, second base, outfield, etc. Roles change, circumstances arise, contingency plans are in order. Open communications helps everyone on the team to more effectively execute what is expected, and changes within those expectations. Open communication allows for idea exchange, comrade, and evolutions. Open also in the sense of: open your ears, not your mouth. The best communicators are those that listen well. Frequent, ongoing, and open communication is what set the good from the great.

16. APPLY THE SAME RULES AND STANDARDS TO EVERYONE. What is good for one is good for all. Set the standards, norms, values rules, constitution, milestones, and objectives. As soon as rules and standards apply only to a few is when you create many problems within a team. If some are able to be tardy and others required too be on time, you have a problem. If a select few are relinquished from responsibility, others on the team will relinquish theirs. As the team captain or leader of a team be diligent on holding everyone to the same standards.

“The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it’s very difficult to build and very easy to destroy.” Thomas J. Watson

17. FOSTER TRUST. Trust is the main ingredient to successful teamwork. Trust is an undeniable belief or truth or strength of someone or something. If you don’t’ have trust you can’t create a team, build a team or sustain a team. Think of trust as the Super Glue that binds teams together! If you recall a moment in time that you had unstoppable teamwork on your side, you will undoubtedly uncover trust. How do you create trust? One way to do it is to do or follow through on what you say you are going to perform. Words that best describe trust are confidence, reliability, fairness, honesty, responsible, honor.

18. MEASURE AND EVALUATE PERFORMANCE. Measure and evaluate performance. Competency is usually governed by measurement. All team sports are evaluated by a winning score. Can you imagine a professionals sports game that does not display a score board? Business is evaluated by revenue. This habit makes the assumption that measurable objectives and performance expectations have already been outlined and clearly communicated. If not, define them. Put it in writing. Communicate performance standards, over and over again. Let the numbers be known! Results is the bottom-line. Keep records of performance. Review them on a regular basis.

19. INJECT NEW BLOOD. Inviting new team members allows for greater strength. Succession is inevitable. Make it work for the greater good. Awareness of new members and recruitment is essential to the growth and development of teams. New effective team members need to be incorporated in order to make this habit bare fruit. Just like the many seeds in an apple. You need plenty to ensure of possible candidates Succession planning must be at the forefront of every team if it wants to survive and thrive.

“Behind an able man, there are always other able men.” Chinese proverb

20. KNOW THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF YOUR TEAM. Who is great at what? Who is mediocre or poor at what? Knowing this can make or break a team. Think about it. Should a field goal kicker be a linebacker or a quarterback? No is the obvious answer. Put the right people in the right positions according to their personal strengths. If someone is great at outside sales, don’t put them in an administrative position, visa versa. Each person on your team has a unique strength, let them exploit their strength.

 21. STRIVE FOR THE WIN/WIN RELATIONSHIP. You know the drill, right? Relationships are built on win/win, not the lose/win, or the lose/lose. Don’t be taken advantage of. Don’t take advantage of others. Every successful continued relationship is built on each party exchanging value to one another. If you are giving and not getting from a relationship then you are participating in a lose/win relationship. You are losing and the other party is winning. Are you stuck in this trap? Are you the person who always has to lose, or always has to win? If so, apply a win/win relationship to all of your interactions and watch how mutual respect, value-for-value reciprocity strengthens every aspect of your life. You can offer so many types of value including, but limited to: money, respect, promotion, recognition, and appreciation. The best way to create a win/win relationship is to provide mutual value and respect.

How well you work within a team ultimately determines your success. Take the time to master these clear-cut habits so you can experience a quantum leap in your personal and professional endeavors.

Best of success to you!

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