Build a leadership super team

November 8, 2017 -  By
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Learn the three primary components you need to achieve a high-profit culture.

To build your leadership super team and achieve a high-profit culture in your company, you need three key components in place and fully operational.

1. Cohesive conflict is critical.

First, to build a super team, you need super leaders.

Specifically, you need them in the roles of sales, production and admin/finance. The owner may take one of these roles when the company is smaller, but ultimately, you want to surround yourself with super leaders in all three areas.

The level of your company will rise or fall to the level of your super leaders—it’s that simple—so it’s critical to staff these positions with A players. Then, set up these leaders with clear direct reports underneath them (every employee should have just one boss, not two), clear responsibilities and required results or success metrics. Too many companies have messy organizational charts and divided responsibilities where it’s not clear who takes ownership for profit and client results.

You may think you already have these super leaders, but do they operate at the level needed to reach your dreams? An entrepreneur’s dreams easily can outstrip the capacity of his or her team. Then again, entrepreneurs can be hesitant to change. My answer to this dilemma—stop settling! Always be hiring, constantly upgrade your team and evaluate and train B players that have the potential to become A players.

To reach the full potential of your super leaders, you need to form them into a super team. To do this requires cohesive conflict. This is the magic glue that holds everything together. It requires that everyone in your team be utterly honest with each other and stand up to the emotional intensity that comes from debate. The company leader must create an environment where others feel safe giving him or her direct feedback, where the company leader can be equally honest and where peers feel comfortable debating with one another.

Developing this camaraderie and honesty is key to developing a successful super team.

2. Use meaningful metrics to gauge success and guide the team.

The second component to building a super team is developing meaningful metrics to steer and motivate the team.

I recommend a companywide scorecard that keeps the most important priorities front and center. We are in interesting times where you can collect all the data you want, but the information can be overwhelming and distracting. The most meaningful metrics are: cash, sales and production. Meet and beat these, and you have your greatest chance of success.

Cash is obvious and goes without saying. Sales figures (by month, by salesperson and by division) tell you if clients and the market are being served in a way that supports your budget. Production (also known as revenue) tells you if you are able to produce at the right daily and weekly pace to meet budget.

Additionally, each of your key leaders needs a meaningful metric (or two) to be accountable for weekly and daily. You should have a “domino” metric for each person: the metric that, when met, ensures that a multitude of other metrics are also met. Identify the domino metric for each person, and you will keep your super team focused, motivated and highly productive.

There are a few other meaningful metrics that your team needs to manage to live up to its super team status and ultimately create a what I call a “destination company.” These metrics relate to marketing, client satisfaction, employee development and, of course, profitability. The latter shows up in many forms: overtime, job costs and gross margins. Notice that profit is the last element I’m referencing here because it’s the result of the other metrics. Get the others right, and profit will become automatic.

3. Bold breakthroughs will drive your team to new heights.

The business owner can’t have his or her head in the ditch, on the crew or deep in the day to day. When this happens, the super team loses its leader, and the leader loses his or her ability to think outside the box and establish bold breakthroughs in the business. If you are not working on the business, you won’t sustain your super team.

A caveat: There is a type of role the leader can play in the business. It is networking with key clients, large prospects and mentoring with industry experts. Why? Because this is where the customer needs, industry trends and new ideas will come from. These things will allow you, as a leader, to develop your bold breakthroughs.

Once you have built your team and given team members their definitions of success, now they need guidance and turbocharging that comes from “bold-breakthrough” leadership.

Case study

Being bold can be both reactive and proactive. Case in point: Jeff Ronhaar, CEO of Jeff’s Outdoor, had grown his business into a multimillion-dollar operation but was dependent on one large client (his municipality). When the city told him it was pulling its contract, it simultaneously told him he had to vacate his property. (Yes, these two decisions were connected.) Jeff—after careful rumination with family, key employees, clients, me and his peer group—decided to reengineer his business to operate at a smaller size, instead of frantically trying to regrow his business. He remained a multimillion-dollar player, but he was now a full third smaller. He pulled his core team together, fired C and D employees, fired C and D clients and reestablished his core vision for how to grow. He ended the next year $400,000 more profitable than the previous year, with more energy, smiles and drive by his super team. (And today, he is larger and more profitable.)

Super teams achieve high profits

As outlined in the figure above, you need all three components in place. What happens if you only have two out of the three? Without the owner or CEO bringing the bold-breakthrough leadership, the company will only achieve low-altitude (mediocre) results. Without the company establishing and consistently using meaningful metrics, the company is likely to crash and burn from flying blind. Without the cohesive conflict developed within the team, the company will suffer from infighting in the cockpit, distracting it from all sorts of opportunities and threats. It takes all three to develop the high-profit culture where your super team will thrive.

Where to start?

As you think about how to apply these lessons, consider the age of your team. Experience has its advantage and youthful vigor adds energy. It is difficult to create bold breakthroughs like Ronhaar did when your team is stuck in its way. Regardless of age, you need vibrancy and adaptability in your team to capture new ideas, new technologies and new directions.

As a leader, your journey to build your super team starts with a clear and compelling vision. Once you have clarity of where you want to go with your team, take the following steps. Assess your leadership team for A players and fill in any holes where C players are holding back leadership. Assess your middle management and identify where your bench strength is weak. Finally, develop a meeting rhythm to review your meaningful metrics and hold your team accountable. Good luck!

Photo: ©istock.com/Bet_Noire

This article is tagged with and posted in 1017, Business Planner 2018, Featured
Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit www.GetTheLeadersEdge.com.

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