Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) with teammates Mitchell Marner (16) and Jack Campbell (36) skate off at the end of third-period NHL Stanley Cup hockey game action against the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto, Monday, May 31, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

In every aspect of life – whether it’s in business, school, or sports – you will have the opportunity to be part of a team. That team could either be a high-performing or a poorly led and disengaged team. This will make all the difference in whether you will be successful or not. It was unfortunate to see the current Toronto Maple Leafs team so traumatized with a terrible ending to their long hockey season. It seemed like they had all the ingredients needed for success. However, were they truly prepared to become a great team? Did their leaders do all the right stuff to set them up for success?

The recent “blow-up” of the high-priced Toronto Maple Leaf NHL hockey team was just that – A huge blow. They had a business strategy to go deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs and get to the finals. They had secured the monies to go out and buy the best individual talent on the street. They changed the coach and brought in a proven winner at the minor levels. They increased the ticket costs to pay all the new salaries needed to keep their free agents in tow. Yet once again, the Maple Leaf’s as a team folded under pressure. An epic collapse is seldom seen in professional sports. They were up 3 games to one in a best of 7 series but just could not close it out. What happened? Is this team destined for greatness as it stands now? The sports commentators would all agree it is a good team but not a great team. It is missing something.

What Are They Missing?

Being able to recognize what good behaviors and leadership looks like is essential however being able to recognize bad behavior and poor team leadership is just as important. There is a lot to be learned from great leaders but there is, even more, to learn from weak leaders and the poor example they display. Identifying what needs fixing and taking the right action, requires looking inward and increasing self-awareness.

What we have learned at Predictive Success by observing thousands of the leaders of great teams is that building a good team is not about cherry-picking an All-Star lineup and expecting them to run with it. It is about leadership, coaching from the world of the employee, and putting together a group that truly complements each other and would take “two bullets” for each other in a battle that they might face. It is about the guidance of the team members to create the guidelines and expectations, the behavioral examples, and organizational infrastructure to enable the team to set free the genius of its members to create the extraordinary together.

Valuing Personality and Performance

One of the first action items we need to build a great team is to out the underperformers and put the most qualified, talented, and motivated leaders in place as his direct reports. This is where objective data like the Predictive Index will help. Create the job models you need for each role. Survey your existing top performers and looking for analytic trending. This will create a fair process for putting the right people into each role. You will always need to vet the skills and abilities to deliver and select the right leader but having this additional data point will allow you the make the best decision. This will create a trust-based model for success and ward off mediocrity. The Toronto Maple Leaf organization could be helped here by looking at this process.

Preparing for the “Pressure Bar”

As Bill Parcells, the Super Bowl-winning NFL coach said in his book: “find talented people and apply pressure.” This is where the Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen. When pressure arrives at their door, the team falters. They are existing top players; top employees just cannot perform under stress. Where is the head coach? This is his role to prepare the team mentally, physically, and make changes when an employee is “un-coachable” which can happen.

Steps to Building a Great Team: Understanding the Job To Be Done

  1. Do you have a Clear Vision – establish and communicate a strong vision of what you want the team to achieve so the path is clear. Make the playoffs or go deep into the championship?
  2. Big Bold Reach Goals – build team objectives big, pushy, and audacious enough to require that people and teams work together cross-functionally to succeed.
  3. Do we have the Right People at the Right Place, Right Time? – tap into individual strengths and do not be afraid to move people around to make sure that the right people are doing the right things, get out the Predictive Index data.
  4. Collaboration-Ready Culture – create a workplace where it is ok to take risks, not have all the answers, and where it is safe to share unique ideas, we all cannot be thinking alike to succeed. The best teams think differently all the time but are aligned.
  5. Live in a Performance Ready workplace – Optimize talent, use the Predictive Index to find talented people, define and make your expectations clear, and have your leaders manage those expectations through a formal, fair, and regular process.
  6. Is the team getting better each year? Prepare for the Future – start planning for your succession now and guide your team to do the same.

Looking to turn your team into a dream team? Discover how Predictive Success can help you build your dream team for 2021 and align your business strategy to your talent strategy. What challenge can we help you solve?