Time to read: 2 minutes
All the competitive advantages – strategy, legal expertise, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your law firm apart. Why? Virtually every firm has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.
However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.
Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.
Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.
To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:
Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design services, serve clients, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and firm leaders are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.
Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.
Team-building activities are a way to provide high-impact learning, increase team skills and communications, and improve morale and productivity.
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