Great Teams Are Not Born, They’re Made

It seems to me that my entire life recently has been made of up teams.  For example, I work with three different commercial real estate sales teams at CBRE, and for the past three months I have been part of two different teams for semester-long group projects at the University of Nevada, Reno. And then of course there’s the role I play as part of a team serving on the board for the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association.

The neat thing about being a part of each of these teams is that achieving success has always played a central role. Just last weekend at the Annual Northern Nevada Summit Awards—which is a regional commercial real estate and development event—my multi-family sales broker won “Apartment Broker of the Year,” and my land team broker won not only “Land Broker of the Year,” but “Largest Sales Transaction of the Year.” In previous years, my teams have also won several awards as “Top Brokers.”

Similarly, it was announced this week that my Strategic Management Group for my “Strategic Management for Executives” class tied for first place out of 1,951 other MBA teams at 110 universities in our computerized strategy management game. Meanwhile, my other group project for my “International Management” class with teammates Becca Curtis and Heather Christian came together seamlessly, and perhaps exceeded even our own expectations.  So what does it take to build a strong team conditioned for success?

Building Strong Marketing Teams

There is a trend in marketing toward the need for being a team player, not just within the marketing organization but, for CMOs especially, across the entire scope of the business. In a post I recently wrote that details the findings of IBM’s Annual Global CMO Survey, a key finding was that the role of a CMO has become more strategic and collaborative across the organization; however, compared to other C-level positions there continues to be a high turnover rate for most CMOs as they adjust to the changing environments of business.

Based on my own personal experience, here are the top 5 skills that I believe are required for building a successful team within a marketing department or organization:

  1. Define Clearly Measurable Goals for Success – When first starting out on a project, a team needs to know what they are collectively working on together to achieve. Without clearly defined goals, the a team’s stengths cannot be utilized to their fullest capacity. For more information on the importance of this element, read this recent post entitled “Why You Need a Strategic Plan” from the New York-based Blueprint Sales Management Service web site.
  2. Leverage Individual Strengths  – When formulating our Strategic Management groups at the beginning of the semester, our professor had each classmate introduce themselves so that we could learn about each other’s individual strengths within the class as a basis for thoughtfully formulating our own groups. The more well-rounded and diverse a group is, the better the team can leverage  each other’s strengths to achieve common goals.
  3. Focus on the Goal, Not the Task – According to a recent article in Inc. Magazine about the “8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses,” motivation comes from vision, business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield, and a company is a community, not a machine. Extraordinary bosses (a.k.a. team leaders) understand how to operate in an environment that generates success from their peers and subordinates.
  4. Convene Regularly – According to a recent HubSpot article that detailed the importance of the proper alignment between sales and marketing for revenue generation, organizations that want to establish collaboration between teams should look at ways to organize a regular meeting for the members of each team. The author notes that “great teamwork is more than just the free passing of data between teams and systems, but also involves combining attitudes, problem-solving efforts, and familiarity.”
  5. Celebrate Wins – According to David Casullo, author of the just-released book entitled Leading the High-Energy Culture, celebrating wins is an important component of building high-energy, high-performing teams. You can read more on this topic in his recent blog post entitled  “Leadership Team Development: Celebrating Wins.”

Now its your turn!  What elements do you think are the most important for building a successful and well-functioning team? What teams have you been a part of that have been extraordinarily successful and what would you attribute to their success?


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