The Importance of Team

I've just returned from Scottsdale and the annual NAPA meeting. As always, it was a great time for learning, networking and getting inspired.

Mountaineer Alison Levine, the keynote speaker on the first day of the meeting, has survived extreme environments and climbed every well-known mountain in the world including Mt. Everest (she did that one twice). She had a very pointed message — that you can’t do great things without a good team. She might have made it to the top of the mountain, but her team helped get there.

Another speaker, business guru and author Jim Collins, offered a message focused on building a great business that endures. After his session, we enjoyed a roundtable with industry leaders, during which, all these leaders emphasized that there are many ways to take your company from good to great, but in order to get there, you need the support of a good team.

The message is clear: the right team is crucial.

Here are some tips from Barry Maher, an expert in leadership, management, sales and communications, for bringing out the best in your team.

• Treat your employees the way you treat your most important clients, which means respect and courtesy and taking the time to build rapport. It also means getting their input before making decisions and getting their buy-in afterward.

• Don’t expect team players if you haven’t made it a team sport. Too frequently, managers demand teamwork then set up situations that destroy team spirit. If I don’t win when the team wins, I’m not on the team.

• Help employees feel better about themselves. There are few things in life more rewarding then helping others grow and succeed. Bringing out the best in people makes those people happier.

• Speak softly and carry a big carrot. Concentrate on the “what’s in it for them,” and the “what’s in it for you” will take care of itself.

A perfect example of how a good team will help you get the job done can be found in our cover story, “Rapid Response Paving in Sissonville” (page 34). After a gas explosion tore apart an 800-foot section of I-77, crews from West Virginia Paving and American Asphalt had traffic flowing again in less than 15 hours.

“You can’t do a job like this without good employees,” says Chet Rodabaugh, paving manager for West Virginia Paving. “Everybody stayed calm and positive as things changed from minute to minute. We had a good crew that was committed to getting the job done.”

Surround yourself with the right people and support them, and watch as your good company becomes great. I’ll leave you with this quote from former basketball coach and player Phil Jackson: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

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