TAG Consulting

The 8 Things Great Team Leaders Do

July 24, 2016

team people

Being a team leader is a lot of work, right?

Well, yes. But not in the way we often imagine.

The real work of a team leader is making sure that he or she sets the team up to actually do the work.

This requires both strength of purpose and a willingness to hold one’s ego in check. The leader has to bear the anxiety of the team while managing his own anxiety. She has to provide all of the resources the team needs to do its job. And the leader has to make sure that all of the stakeholders involved are having the right conversations especially when those conversations involve competing values and priorities.

And all the while the leader is leveraging the talents and passions of the individual team members.

When we think about all the work a team leader must do, we define eight priority tasks which every team leader must be accountable for:

  1. Build rapport and create a safe environment for everyone. Team members don’t have to be best friends but they must hold mutual respect and be able to communicate clearly and honestly.
  2. Define reality by distinguishing between tactical, strategic, and truly Transformational issues.
  3. Engage the real issues, not the peripheral ones.
  4. Reframe seemingly unsolvable problems into ones that can be solved.
  5. Manage personal baggage, fears, ego, and anxiety.
  6. Make sure that any conflict that arises is about competing values alone, and not about personalities, side issues, or warring egos.
  7. Initiate change at a rate that can be tolerated.
  8. Mobilize the team to do the work themselves by providing the needed resources and asking the right questions.

If this list sounds challenging, it’s because it is!

But it’s not impossible. And it is thrilling when it all comes together.

At TAG we are committed to teams and leaders of teams. From leadership coaching to help you navigate tough decisions and conflicts, to workshops which will reveal and highlight the talents of your team members and how they come together, to cutting edge facilitation and learning for all levels of teams in your organization, we are here to help your organization move from good to great.

Find out more here – and lead with passion and purpose!

Five Ways To Create A Risk-Taking Culture

March 29, 2016

Our work with clients as well as our research has taught us that organizations that have a high tolerance for risk have the healthiest cultures and are usually the most successful in terms of results.

What we have discovered is that it’s not enough just to tolerate risk. To use a baseball metaphor, great organizations actively seek out risks and instead of hoping for a single encourage their team members to swing for the fences!


Now, this doesn’t mean that great organizations will roll the dice without a reasonable chance of being successful or without doing their due diligence. But it does mean that their appetite for risk is such that their less successful competitors tend to look at them and think “What are they thinking? That will never work!”

Here are five ways you can increase your tolerance for risk and encourage a culture of experimentation:

1. Start by taking a number of small risks rather than one big one. If you’re not sure that your culture (or your own stomach!) can take an enterprise-gambling risk, take a few smaller ones that will ‘hurt’ a bit if they don’t pay off but won’t threaten the organization’s viability. Over time, you will learn more about your core competencies, your own appetite for risk, and where an educated gamble might pay off for your organization.

2. Support the natural risk-takers on your team.
When you assign a risky project or experiment, make sure you clear some things off the plate of those responsible so that they can focus. When their plans appear to be faltering, support them verbally and supply any needed resources. Praise them in front of other team members and tell their stories.

3. Build risk-taking into your compensation and rewards system.
Nothing communicates a culture of experimentation more than honoring successful risks and even praising and rewarding worthy risks that may not have yet panned out.

4. Make sure that the risks you take are around issues you and your team care deeply about.
It’s one thing to take a flier. It’s quite another to take a risk that, if it pays off, will advance your organization’s mission or live out the values you hold together.

5. Make sure that you build in ways to glean lessons from your experiments.
Have the whole team debrief a risk-taking project, both midstream and at its conclusion. The goal of this public debrief is not to scapegoat or shift blame when a risk has not paid off. It’s to tell the story of the adventure of the experiment, honor those who put themselves on the line, and craft takeaways for what you can do better next time. It’s important for a healthy culture to be a learning organization – all the more important that you learn from your experiments so you can consolidate gains and avoid future pitfalls.

How about you? What have been your most fruitful risks? Where can you initiate some new experiments in your personal life or in your organization?

Who’s Responsible Here?

February 23, 2016

circle of hands

One of the signs of a healthy organization is that responsibility – for decisions and results alike –  is widely shared and not hoarded by a select few.

But the catch is that many leaders like to think of themselves as responsibility-sharing leaders when in fact their actual behavior is designed to protect their own turf out of either insecurity or fear that they and only they can get the required results.

Here are three tell-tale signs we look for in determining whether or not an organization is committed in fact to sharing responsibility:

  1. The reward and incentive system in the organization is at least in part tied to the performance of the organization as a whole and not just individuals. While individual performance is important and must be recognized, healthy organizations avoid becoming a confederation of solo superstars by linking individual rewards to overall achievement.
  2. Team members are generous with their own resources to help others. This includes time, people, money, and physical resources. The organization thrives with a mentality of plenty, not the fear of scarcity.
  3. Information flows across boundaries.  New ideas, learnings, best practices, and data are not piled high in silos but rather disseminated across functions, org charts, and even geographical locations. “Need to know” is assumed to be as broad and inclusive as possible.

Where is your organization doing with these metrics of shared responsibility? Where can you raise your game right away? Who can you get on board in that shared enterprise?

What, Exactly, Is “Empowerment” At Work?

February 8, 2016

It’s unusual that a client does NOT tell us “I am interested in doing a better job of empowering my team”.

“Empowerment” falls right in with apple pie, mom, and the Super Bowl as things everyone seems to love, or at least feels as if they should love!

But a question hangs out there:

What, exactly, is “empowerment”?

powerlines copy


It’s not flowery or academic. It’s elemental and essential.

Towards a working definition:

We measure empowerment by how willing people are to offer us their maximum discretionary effort.

People aren’t doing the bare minimum, just enough to get by. They aren’t cutting corners or running the clock out.

They are giving of their best, giving what they don’t “have” to give.

You don’t do this unless you feel as if your efforts will pay off.

You don’t do this unless you feel that you matter and that you can make a difference.

You don’t do this unless you feel that you have power.

In other words, people feel empowered when they are motivated to give their all.

And when that happens, everyone wins – the team member, the team, the leader, the organization.

So, how do you empower your team?

That’s tomorrow…

5 Skills For Selecting A Great Team

January 26, 2016

team stick figuresVirtually every client we are called upon to serve values teamwork. Some want to improve their already high-performing teams. Others want to sharpen their focus on how teams can work together for success. Others have challenges on existing teams and are looking for trouble-shooting. And many want coaching on what it takes to pick people who will be part of winning teams.

Over the years and through serving thousands of client, we’ve developed five best practices for “people-picking”. You can read even more in The Leadership Triangle, by TAG partners Kevin Graham Ford and Ken Tucker, available here.

If you want to become a great people-picker who picks great people (say that five times fast!), you will want to work on developing these skills:

Great People-Pickers Are Success-Intuitive 

If you are a great selector of people you can look at a potential team member and see what makes them tick. You see their passion, understand how their past has shaped them, have a sense of their dreams, and can visualize their future success.


Great People-Pickers Are Placement-Aware

The best selectors of people see exactly where and on which team a person can fit. They look at a potential team member and know the right seat on the bus for that person, the perfect role that will tee them and the team up for success.


Great People-Pickers Are Future-Oriented

As a good leader, you will see the future of your organization as well as your own future. A great people-picker sees the future of each team member. You can visualize not only their success and the success of the organization, but also the success of each individual.


Great People-Pickers Are Unselfishly Opportunistic

The late Don Clifton, a legendary leader and consultant who excelled at team selection, asked a great question which we use all the time:

“How can I help this person discover just how good, just how successful he or she can become?”

That’s a profound question which has great power for your life of leadership. If you are a leader who works to provide opportunities for individuals on your team to use their natural talents and traits the end result will be success for your as a team and for you as the leader of that team.


Great People-Pickers Are Time Conscious

In a sense, time is everything. Often, in the crucible of leadership, many things happen all at once. To be a leader is to deal with moving parts and contingencies on a daily basis. Sometimes, the door to success is just cracked open for a moment. Part of the art of leadership is seizing every moment for its full potential.

Great people-pickers are deeply aware of timing and have one eye on the clock and one eye on their teams.

Which of those five traits of world-class people-pickers do you possess? Which do you need to sharpen? What’s your strategy?


How To Discover Your Team’s Talent

January 7, 2016

Each of our clients works with an unbelievably talented team. But they don’t always know it!

talent tools

In our book Your Intentional Difference: One Word Changes Everything, (written by Ken Tucker, Shane Roberson, and Todd Hahn) we talk at length about the concept of prevailing talent, which we define as “your spontaneous, observable, reliable, and measurable patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving,”

Here is an exercise we use to help teams understand their prevailing talent as individuals and as a whole and how great it is to spend most of your time using your talent. We call it the Energy Exercise.

First, think about the last time you went home at the end of a day energized and full of life. Ask yourself two questions:
1. What had you done that day?
2. What particular and individual talents had you tapped into that day in your life and work?

Now, turn the question on its head. When was the last time you finished a day drained, exhausted, maybe even a little depressed? Ask yourself three questions:
1. What had you done that day?
2. What particular and individual talents that you have were you tapping into that day?
3. What particular and individual talents that you have were you NOT tapping into that day?

Consider asking this question on a widespread basis – maybe in one on one meetings or as part of a group exercise. You will begin to energize your culture and unearth ways to get people living in their prevailing talent!