3 Tips To Build A Winning Team

Professional sports team offer insight into how to support this critical element of success.

 
 

Hockey greats like Wayne Gretzky know how important it is to “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” This tip, passed onto Wayne by his father Walter, is great advice for credit union teams, too, but figuring out how to do this is challenging when there are many trends evolving at once. For example, cybersecurity, autonomous cars, and increased competition from Fintech players are just a few of the “pucks” credit union leaders need to be watching and — more importantly — anticipating.

That’s where Callahan’s Leadership Team Development program comes into play. In this program, which is completely different from any other professional development experience, the entire leadership team works through a curriculum together, discussing and practicing their learnings along the way through expertly facilitated team huddles.

Combining my experience facilitating the program with watching successful sports teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, which won the Stanley Cup this past Sunday, I’ve identified a few commonalities in team-building best practices. Here are three.

No. 1: Develop Strong Relationships With Each Player

Successful sports teams communicate via quick glances and simple gestures. This is how they create a path to success. But this type of alignment doesn’t happen overnight or solely through scheduled practices.

Think back to childhood sports teams — what do you remember most? Did you celebrate small victories together and bond over team huddles and orange slices? Did you push one another to hone your skills and develop your own language?

Professional sports teams know the value of understanding the perspective of each member. Leadership Team Development helps credit union teams learn more about one another’s perspective, too. It also teases out insights that leaders might not traditionally share, giving a double return on time investment.

Time is a precious commodity, and the investment required for Leadership Team Development can be a challenge. However, those who have completed the program confess that the value created by dedicating time for team development ends up being immeasurable — both in short-term tactical execution and long-term strategic alignment.

No. 2: Encourage Full Discussion And Debate

Open and honest discussion is critical in ensuring the best ideas for the credit union surface. This kind of interaction only happens in an environment of trust and respect.

For leaders, building an environment of trust and respect means allowing others to speak before sharing their own thoughts. It also means drawing out the ideas of others. Callahan’s On Leadership article with Shruti Myashiro addresses this practice in more detail.

Just like hockey teams huddle for a quick check-in, credit unions should consider discussing strategy in small bites to help teams identify where they might need to pivot or accelerate to ensure success.

The structure of Callahan’s Leadership Team Development program builds in this kind of interaction to ensure all participants remain on a level playing field. And facilitators develop an environment that encourages active and equal participation from every participant.

No. 3: Know When To Bring In An Outside Expert

Coaches are ultimately responsible for developing a team’s dynamics, but it’s important to know when to bring in an outsider to push a team to the next level. For example, trainers, sports medicine experts, and sports psychologists help support professional sports teams throughout the season.

As I’ve seen in Callahan’s Leadership Team Development, outside experts can help groups come together in new ways. In today’s increasingly challenging financial services landscape, it’s not enough to simply have a team whose members are comfortable with one another and willing to openly communicate, they must also have the tools and common language to identify and push new strategies forward.

Callahan’s Leadership Team Development program helps credit union leaders do just that. Our multi-faceted program brings together the impact of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s renowned work, HBX’s state-of-the-art online course platform, and Callahan & Associates’ leadership and expertise to create a team learning experience like no other in the credit union industry.

Learn more about how this program can help your credit union build a stronger team.

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