Serve People First

How to Manage a Team: Strategy, Themes & Targets

May 20, 2014 by Mark Kilens

Over the course of three articles we defined and described a Leadership System. A Leadership System exists to serve the team. Its three goals are: 1) To inspire people with the team's purpose. 2) To educate people about the team’s principles. 3) To serve people on the team.

The majority of a genuine leader’s average week should be spent focused on those three goals. Those goals and related activities will become a habit of genuine leaders.

Do you think you or your team leader spend enough time today inspiring, educating and serving the team?

A genuine leader must be manically focused and obsessed with how his team executes. After all, the team is hopefully trying to achieve a purpose greater than all of them.

To execute with excellence a genuine leader and his team need a Management System. A way for him to manage the team’s innovation and execution.

Like a Leadership System, a Management System is made up of three hierarchical components. The first component of a Management System is the team's strategy, themes and targets. They will keep the team focused and aligned.

Team Strategy

A leader must first define and set her team's overall strategy for that calendar year.

The strategy should communicate how the team plans to achieve the team's purpose. Remember, simplicity is a genuine leader’s secret weapon. A strategy should be simple to understand and easy to communicate.

Most importantly it’s a short statement that is closely aligned with the team's purpose, the why. Here are a few words about business strategy from Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric

“A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message.”

Take a moment now. Does your team have a strategy that is clear and easy to understand? How is your team's strategy defined and communicated? Does everyone on the team know the strategy?

In most business settings a team's strategy should be something the leader defines annually.

Team Themes & Targets

The second thing a genuine leader must do is define his team's corresponding themes for that calendar year.

Team themes and targets should help the team stay focused on solving business problems, helping the business grow, and most importantly, serving the "customer." 

Themes should be general enough so that it allows team members to create and lead new programs and projects. Themes are critically important and something that will take a the leader time and patience to define.

Themes are a team's autonomous spark. The leader should not ever define every project or create every program. A genuine leader should use themes as her execution and innovation guardrails.

Remember, guardrails are guidelines that prevent people from falling off the intended path. They help to protect the leader and team from distractions.

Each theme should have a target, one or more metrics that a leader can use to measure how well the team executed the theme over a specific time period. I  suggest defining two to four team themes each year.

A genuine leader should create a purpose, strategy, themes and targets (PSTT) visual. The visual could be a PowerPoint slide, created with Photoshop, on a whiteboard, etc.

It should clearly communicate the PSTT to each team member and be there as a guiding post.

Does your team have the spark it needs to innovate and execute with autonomy?

An Example

The Academy's team purpose is to educate and inspire people so that, we, together transform the way the world does business.

The Academy's team strategy is to utilize and teach the Inbound Methodology so that, we, together transform the way the world does business.

Simon Sinek says a why statement has two parts, a unique contribution and an impact statement.

Take notice that the impact statement between my team's purpose, our why, and our strategy are the same. It's designed to be the same. You want your purpose and strategy to have the same impact, to be aligned.

A genuine leader's strategy is there to help the team understand how they will achieve their purpose.

The themes and targets should align with the strategy statement, but should be more specific. The Academy team has three 2014 team themes.

Here is one of our themes: “Provide customers with more blended learning opportunities.” 

We use our three themes and our purpose to help us understand what projects, milestones and goals we should be executing.

Team Projects

The second component of a Management System is defining and executing team projects.

The leader needs to work with his team to decide what team projects are most important to execute so that the team can achieve its targets.

We'll discuss that topic during our next post.