Archives September 2021

5 Behaviours at the Heart of a Great Team

Team dynamics are an important predictor of organizational culture.

Teams that work well together perform better (and they are more fun to be a part of).

To achieve this advantage, teams must master five specific behaviours.

1. Focusing on Achieving Collective Results

Teams can accomplish things that individuals could never do on their own can’t.

So the ultimate measure of success for any team is the results it produces.

2. Holding One Another Accountable

A team can only reach its goals only when everyone does his or her job. Therefore, our ability to achieve collective results is reliant not only on our individual efforts but also on the combined efforts of every team member.

It naturally follows that it is the responsibility of every member of the team to push every other member of the team to do his or her best.

3. Committing to Decisions

There is one simple concept that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to holding another person accountable for something…did the parties commit to the decision in the first place?

If we have not established clarity around our shared expectations and gained agreement on our respective roles and responsibilities, then the idea that we would be willing to hold each other accountable is absurd.

4. Engaging in Conflict Around Ideas

There is a saying that people must “weigh in to buy in.” If we are going to ask all members of a team to truly commit to a shared vision, then we need to be darn sure we get all the ideas (and emotions) out on the table.

And the only way to make sure that all voices are heard is by having the team be collectively willing to engage in healthy and respectful conflict around ideas. 

5. Building Trust With One Another

Putting your own ideas out there, especially when they go against “bolder” personalities or the whole group, can be difficult. When team members are fearful of attacks or uncertain about how others will respond, there’s a natural tendency to hold back and just stay quiet and not show vulnerability.

But there is one key element that enables teams to push past the typical discomfort of associated with conflict: it’s called “trust.”

Trust in that my teammates are good, honest and have the best of intentions.


When teams dedicate focused effort on learning to be vulnerable with each other, the result is a domino effect that enables the team to….

Build Trust with One Another, which enables the team to … 

Engage in Conflict Around Ideas, which enables the team to … 

Commit to Decisions, which enables the team to … 

Hold One Another Accountable, which enables the team to … 

Focus on Collective Results, which enables the team to…



What is the condition of your Organization’s Culture?

Take the Organizational Culture Survey

Alan Mulally Was Losing $17B A Year, Yet Every Management Dashboard Showed Green Lights – Learn How He Changed Accountability At Ford

Imagine taking over a company that was losing $17 Billion each and every year.

That is SEVENTEEN BILLION DOLLARS. Each year. And, every year.

Billions with a “B.”

This was the situation Alan Mulally faced when he was recruited away from Boeing to lead the failing Ford Motor Company.

While chairing a worldwide leadership meeting, Mr. Mulally looked at a dashboard that showed ‘green-lights’ on every department, division and product. He asked himself and then the attendees, “if everything is going so well, why are we losing $17B.’

Mr. Mulally spoke at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he discussed the turnaround efforts at Ford, which took the automaker from an annual loss of $17 billion in 2006 to its most profitable period in more than a decade.

Mulally explains that leadership takes courage, has a point of view about the future, and pursues it in the face of resistance and doubt in service of something great.

The entire video is excellent and well worth your time to watch

But if time is short, skip ahead to the 24:11 mark and watch the segment on building accountability (approx 9 minutes)


ACT, BE, DO: What Skills are Needed for Leadership Nirvana?

ACT, BE, DO: What Skills are Needed for Leadership Nirvana?

Leadership Nirvana … What the heck is that? More importantly, what skills are needed for reaching leadership nirvana?

Let’s find out.

What Skills are Needed for Leadership Nirvana?

There have been times in my career when I have experienced what can only be described as leadership nirvana. 

When I have been part of teams that achieved leadership nirvana, we seemed invincible. Teams that were much more than the whole being more than the sum of its parts: We were exponentially greater!

I am even writing this – recalling those times when the team pulsed and hummed with potential – I feel my pulse quicken, the adrenaline courses and I still get an endorphin rush.

During the early years of the Bosnia/Croatia war, I was the Sergeant Major of a company of infantry soldiers who were rated the most combat-ready in our division. We were skilled, efficient, driven, hungry and proud! (Get to know more about me here)

We were proud of our accomplishments and so loyal to each other that we would rather die than let someone down. And we were in the highest level of service to each other.

Servant leadership might be the antithesis of your thoughts on Army or, possibly, business leadership. Nonetheless, this was the ultimate example of Servant leadership—focusing first on the needs of soldiers to achieve results.

3 Actions for Leadership Nirvana

What is the underlying methodology for performing this remarkable accomplishment?

  • STEP #1 ACT
  • STEP #2 BE
  • and finally: STEP #3 DO


Wonderfully Simple. Yet, Infinitely Complex


Commit to ACTing in the manner that you want to see more of and being engaged, regardless of the circumstances.

Think about what it is you would like to see from your team and model it, try:

  • More enthusiasm. Less cynicism.
  • More results. Less business. 
  • More objectivity. Less wishing and guessing.
  • More focus. Less distraction.
  • More approachable. Fewer eggshells.
  • More patience and kindness. Less grumpiness.
  • More encouragement. Less withholding encouragement.
  • More appreciation. Less entitlement and neglect.
  • More listening. Less telling.
  • More truth. Fewer half-truths, omissions, and exaggerations.
  • More creativity. Less mediocracy. 
  • More pursuit. Less passivity.
  • More humility. Less ego and politics. 
  • More time, effort, and care. 

This also includes acting with a “team-first” mindset. Here’s how to do just that. 


Commit to BEing connected by talking, listening, and showing and sharing.

This looks like…

  • Having more frequent, intimate and meaningful conversations about what it is you and your team do and the value you and your team bring to the world.
  • Showing people the big picture more often.
  • Sharing any external feedback – good and bad – you get from the people you serve.
  • Sharing it as much as possible to help your people be more connected to that big picture.
  • Letting people know you have their back and appreciate them.
  • Sharing your purpose, your mission.
  • Telling them. Showing them. Encouraging them. Thanking them.
  • Doing it in person and doing it in writing.
  • Consider a quick daily meeting that allows everyone to share what they are working on and any challenges they are facing to help people feel more connected to each other and each other’s work.

When we are more connected to each other, we feel better about each other, more accountable to each other, and have an easier time supporting each other.

(When you ask what skills are needed for leadership, moral courage is always on the list. Click here to read why it might even be the most important leadership characteristic)


Want stronger people and to work on developing future leaders?

Do these things: 

  • DO involve them in solving the challenges you face.
  • Whenever possible, let your people lead the effort to make something happen.
  • Let them see things from your point of view, so they are better informed and have a better chance of solving problems with you. And, eventually without you.
  • Ask people often to give you their thoughts – good and bad.
  • Ask them how they would change things if they were in charge.
  • Then, really and sincerely listen.
  • When we are more involved in something and more accountable for something, we are more engaged.
  • Do whatever you can to help people be personally responsible for results and serve the people you serve.
  • Let them know that you involve them because you are interested in their development and in them becoming more valuable to the organization.

If you have created that high-trust environment and high-trust relationships, let them know you are helping them practise and perfect their abilities so they are valuable no matter where they work.

What happens in your place of work?

It may be obvious to find leadership euphoria when the goal is honourable. But trust me, it isn’t a given. All organizations struggle with developing the leadership culture required to achieve nirvana. But when you know what skills are needed for leadership development and reaching leadership nirvana, you’ve got a leg up on the process. 

That said, I felt close in less dramatic settings, like nailing a project or closing a big deal.

It doesn’t happen every day, and you may never reach it, but it is to Act, Be and Do your job as the leader to clear the path to leadership nirvana!  

Did you enjoy reading “ACT, BE, DO: What Skills are Needed for Leadership Nirvana?”

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This post about what skills are needed for leadership was first published in 2019. It was updated in 2021 just for you.