Leadership Tip: Great Teams Have Great Depth
September 05, 2017
Have you ever watched a great team in action? Especially at the end of the game? As the game progresses, the “second string” or “bench” becomes more and more important. Down the stretch, you’re likely to see many new players enter from the bench, while the starters sit out. Only with a strong group of players on the bench, can a team consistently win. This is called depth. And every great team has great depth.
This applies to all teams, from sports to business. There’s lots of teaching on how to develop depth on a basketball team, for example. But how do you develop depth in your work team?
Here are the dimensions of depth that every team leader needs to focus on to have a winning season:
1. Relationship Depth — Connection
The first question to ask is, do you all like each other? Team members who like each other are more likely to work together and help each other when the game is on the line. Develop depth in this area by creating connecting moments in which people can get to know and appreciate each other more. And of course, bring in team members who value and seek connection.
2. Diversity Depth — Completion
Every team needs a variety of players. A basketball team full of point guards doesn’t win championships. In organizational teams, you need diversity in skills, experience, background, and education. Seek unity in values and vision, but to develop diversity depth, bring in team members who are able and willing to complete each other, rather than merely compete.
3. Servanthood Depth — Care
This is more than just getting along. Servanthood is developed and modeled from the leader on down. It’s a humble attitude that isn’t self-seeking. It’s a commitment to serving others first. To develop depth in this area, bring in and train team members who are focused on a win for the entire team, not just themselves or their area. These people are willing to put others first and help each other win.
4. Skill Depth — Competence
Can your team members do their jobs with excellence? Do they have the skill sets necessary to create a win? These are the questions a leader asks when attempting to develop skill depth. Everyone on the team needs to produce at a high level of quality; otherwise, the weakest link will pull everyone down. So bring in and train excellent players to create depth in this area.
5. Leadership Depth — Continuity and Clarity
Not just talking about people in positions of leadership here. Developing leadership depth means encouraging and allowing leaders to emerge and contribute at every level. In this area, leadership means taking ownership and stepping up to influence others toward the win.
6. Growth Depth — Capacity
You’ve heard the phrase, “People are our most appreciable asset,” usually from CEOs of large organizations. But add one caveat: “...only if the leaders are developing them.” To create depth in this area, you do need to bring in people with a capacity for growth. But team members don’t “appreciate” or get better unless the leaders are pouring into them. So make sure you’re coaching your people and encouraging them to grow.