Relationships have value.  They add value and they cost us, depending on the quality and the character of the relationship.  It is true in both our personal lives and at work.  The quality and character of our relationships can make the difference between wanting to come to work and dreading getting up in the morning.

When we genuinely like the people we work with, we bring something extra to the table.  The extra might be extra time, or an extra measure of zeal for a project, or an extra idea, or going the extra mile.  These extras come more easily and frequently when we are engaged with and actively care about the people we work with.

As William H. Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers observed, “If we leave the human factor out of our business calculations we shall be wrong every time.”  My colleague Mary learned this lesson early in her career, and her story brightly illuminates this point:

 “It was early in my career and I was still learning about leadership and executing business expectations with ease, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that I had something that many of my colleagues did not have.  I had the X Factor:  people who cared about each other and who cared about me.

One of my strongest leadership memories comes from this time.  I was a young leader and it was the week of my first corporate visit.  We had been working hard that week getting ready for this visit, but there was more to do.  One by one these people who had families and responsibilities and lives outside our workplace came to me and said,

‘I am coming back after dinner to get this done.’  

‘I will stay tonight so we can have this just right.’ 

‘Why don’t we order pizza so we don’t have to leave to eat?’

‘I will call my husband and let him know it will be a late night.’

Hours later, I looked at my watch as we got ready to walk out the door.  It was 2 AM.  I looked around at this incredible group of people that was gathered.  None of them had been asked to stay, but each one had offered to go the extra mile.  I remember the feeling of both gratitude and joy.  We were laughing and tired and we were something more:  we were a team.  Not in name, but in spirit.”

What does it take to build a great team?

T            time,

E            effort,

A           appreciation and something more,

M          a sense of mission.

When people gather around a common purpose; when they care about getting the same result, having the same outcome; amazing things happen.  Mission is a great motivator.

So how is your team?  Here are some questions to ask that will help you build a winning team:

·       When do you give your team your time?

·       What effort do you make to cultivate their relationships with one another?

·       Do you regularly appreciate and acknowledge your people and their work?

·       Is your team on a mission that matters?

Teams do not happen by accident. They are shaped and formed over time, with effort, appreciation and a common mission.  Asking yourself these questions regularly will ensure that you have a team, not just a group of people, when the stakes are high and the outcomes matter.