Leadership: The matrix of team work

EVERY big goal is achieved by an effective team. I would rather have a small goal and have a great team than to have a big goal and have poor team matrixes. John C Maxwell (2001: page 2) says: “The belief that one person can do something great is a myth.”


A leader should not see employees from a servanthood perspective, but should appreciate that he is being helped by them to produce or fulfil the purpose of an organisation.

In the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patric Lencioni (2002: pg 97) gives us reasons why leaders fail in teamwork:

1. Absence of trust — this leads to invulnerability
2. Fear of conflict — resulting in artificial harmony
3. Lack of commitment — resulting in ambiguity
4. Avoidable of accountability — resulting in low standards
5. Inattention to results — resulting in status and ego

It’s the game of the old where leaders used to be power bosses or fiefdoms. But they should be people or team leaders.

Let’s focus on seven ways to keep team players motivated. It’s not always money that keeps people upbeat.

The media has been awash with executives that are getting hefty salaries to the detriment of the organisation.

If it is about money, those leaders should have produced great results. People are triggered to perform because they want to promote change, improve their and other people’s lives, to build the community and make a difference. Here are seven points to motivate your team:

Fire the manager and hire a leader

The manager has a tendency of maintaining the status quo. The times that we operate in, be it in business, sport, church or in politics, need leaders more than managers. Warren Bennis (1981: 45) a leadership guru of our times writes: “The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager focuses on a system and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The leader asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing”.

Your back is being watched as a leader

A leader has to understand that as he leads, there are people following. Literally what are they watching? It’s your back!
Keep your back clean and you will be trusted and entrusted with greater responsibility. Some team players are watching their leaders’ back and instead of working, they are laughing because the back is not covered. Be transparent and trustworthy and that’s a good motivation to others.

Your relevance inspires others

Your being relevant motivates leaders to be true agents of change and causes followers to also grow to the level of leadership.

People are dreaming big and want to achieve more and as a leader, be exemplary in doing so. Also encourage team players to enlarge their intellectual, relational and educational levels.

Cultivate a positive atmosphere

There is nothing so demoralising like being led by someone disinterested, spiteful and negative. That cultivates a horrid, instead of a happy atmosphere. A happy environment cultivates hope and self-esteem.

Some things to avoid include being judgmental, not allowing others to freely express their creativity and ideologies. The leader must allow team players to use their skills, experience, and expertise to contribute to the growth of the company. This is possible when the atmosphere is good.

Encourage team players to upgrade themselves

We live in fast-paced and globally minded environments and mediocrity can’t produce what’s competitive on the market. Anyone who does not want to upgrade themselves is hard to be elevated to any top leadership position. Not only that, they are in danger of being irrelevant and eventually obsolete.

As a leader, teach other team players to acquire new skills, experiment on new ideas, observe and absorb from competitors.

Encourage their endeavours and allow them to blossom like flowers. Proficiency leads to mastery and eventually to high yields.

As a leader develop team players through coaching, mentorship, supporting, giving them responsibilities and giving them direction.

Every team player should have an e-mentality

Whatever company one works for technology is as good as fish is to water as we enter into the fourth industrial revolution. The information superhighway is a convergence zone and winners in the industry have mastered its effectiveness. This is the place where we engage the global market place just at the click of the button and that triggers creativity, innovativeness and out-of-the-box thinking.

Incentives are the cream on the cake

It’s very difficult to lead disgruntled people, let alone people without adequate resources to get the work done. Reward people for the work that they have done and in return they will always want to out-do their past results.

Parting point: Linda Kaplan (2006) in her book The Power of Nice, says: “Positive impressions are like seeds. You plant them, nurture them…and below the surface they grow and expand . . . Breaking through the ground often exponentially”.

Your success as a leader, hinges on a good team which has been well motivated to stay upbeat!

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