Build a Team for Success

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If you’re not a Denver Broncos fan—heck, even if you don’t like football—you can still benefit from the leadership advice of Ted Sundquist, the team’s former general manager.

Leaders who can keep a team focused, unified and on track are more likely to achieve their goals. But don’t take my word for it. Listen instead to Ted Sundquist, former general manager of the Denver Broncos, and a man who knows a thing or two about leading a team to success. His stint as an Air Force Intelligence Officer probably didn’t hurt, either.

In fact, Sundquist’s military discipline combined with his highly competitive NFL and business experiences led him to create a system for leadership that he outlines in his new book, “Taking Your Team to the Top: How to Build and Manage Great Teams like the Pros.”

In an article at Small Business Computing, Sundquist discussed his leadership system. Dubbed FUDES (it’s pronounced “foods”), the acronym represents focus, unity, direction, excellence and success. “Everything that you do should go through that acronym,” says Sundquist. Here’s how he breaks it down:

Focus: Team focus is critical. Ask your team to define its purpose and goals. Once you define the goals, every decision you make should be based on whether or not it gets you closer to achieving your goal.  Focus helps you stay on track, reduces costs and saves time.

Unity: Communicate clearly and often. Everyone on your team should know the goal and their role in achieving it. That avoids confusion and duplicate effort, and it promotes seamless transitions. Also, vet new hires with unity in mind to ensure they’re a fit for your team. “We all have our quirks, and some personalities are stronger than others, but you want to avoid someone that will tear at the unity of your group,” he says.

Direction: As an effective team leader, your job is to guide the group to the destination, so know how to get there. In addition, good leaders guide, they don’t micromanage. Assign tasks, get out of the way, and let your team gain valuable experience in the pursuit of the goal. You’re there to advise, and to help everyone stay on course.

Excellence: You can be good, or you can be great. If you want to be truly exceptional, says Sundquist, set “high standards for yourself and have ways of measuring those standards.” Of course it follows that you need to hold yourself and your team accountable to those standards. Also, learn from what leaders in your field and other successful business people do. “True leaders in their industries—people at the top of their game—they know what it takes to stay one step ahead of their competitors.”

Success: It won’t happen overnight, and even Sundquist acknowledges that it’s not possible to stay focused all the time. But a sustained effort, a persistent striving for focus, unity, direction and excellence can help you achieve success. Of course, Sundquist suggests that you look for any extra “step that you can take that will allow your team to reach that success.”

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.
Adapted from 5 Team Leadership Tips for Small Business, by Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.