A School Leader’s Guide to Building A Winning Team

by | Jul 16, 2020 | 0 comments

5 min read

A Winning Team

Creating and sustaining a winning team of talented people is maybe the single most important task of a leader. But a winning team is not just about putting together a group of high performers. In fact, the problem is twofold: 1. Assembling a team of driven players doesn’t automatically create the chemistry that it takes to “win.” And, 2. Building a team is more about the current culture of your school or business than it is about pulling new people onto your staff.

Consider the first problem. Having all the best players on one squad doesn’t mean that output will go through the roof. In fact, capacity is always more important than competence. You need people who can pivot–agility, adaptability, and the art of learning a new skill far exceed a narrow expertise. Dennis Rodman is considered one of the best rebounders that basketball has ever seen. But he was a leading scorer in college. On a team with shooters like Pippen and Jordan, Rodman found his niche.

Let’s also consider the second problem. If your brand, your culture, and your casting net are weak, your team is not set up to win. To drive the point clearly, we bring forward the Google-culture that attracts talent from around the world. It’s their branding and the fact that their internal working benefits are as well known to the public as they are to their employees.

That leads us to the three most important ways that you can build your winning team–the boosting and branding of your culture, the recruitment techniques that you use, and your selection process when you’re hiring. Let’s dive a bit deeper into each.

Branding Your Team 

The branding equation is simple: Story + Priorities = Attraction. In The Power of Branding, Sinanis and Sanfelippo address the importance for schools, or any organization, to tell their story. Too often, even the local community, and sometimes parents, don’t know all the great things that happen within a school. Even worse, when something unfortunate happens, that does get advertised. Schools with the best reputation earn that stature by systematically telling the story of every great moment, program, initiative, and circumstance. It’s why “priorities” is the second component of the equation. Telling a story about how priorities came to fruition builds the belief that the team is winning. In fact, it provides proof of the “scoreboard.” That is precisely what attracts outsiders to a brand so that the team gets stronger from the inside-out as well as from the outside-in.

Recruiting Your Team

Too often, recruitment strategies are passive. A vacancy pops open, the job is posted, and we wait to see what the application pool presents. But with tools as easy to use as Twitter or LinkedIn, it’s almost irresponsible to be less than actively recruiting for top talent, even targeting individuals with a proven track record. Especially if your brand is clear through the stories you tell about the priorities you’ve set and goals you’ve met, it should be fun to glamorize an opening on your team to attract the leading players in your field.

Selecting Your Team

Finally, organizations can’t leave the selection process to an interview alone. Interviews aren’t good measures of anything more than interviewing skills. That said, the key to a quality selection process, even an interview, is through the creation of what we call the archetype of the position. When you have a vacancy, you don’t just need a qualified person to join the team. You need specific traits, skills, experiences, and mindsets to fill your gap. Creating the archetype of the position means intentionally listing (and posting) what it is you’re looking to gain. Yes, you may need a certified social studies teacher, but what other gaps in experience and culture might this person fill? Don’t just consider the primary functions of the role, examine the other aspects of the team that the person is joining to ensure diversity and fit.

Want to Know More? Check out Building a Winning Team. We dive deeper into branding, recruiting, selecting, and a ton of other content to help you create and sustain an awesome team of people. If you want the most successful team possible, you’ll enjoy the technical tips, strategies, and practitioner spotlights that are included in the book. Let us know what you think. We love to hear from you.

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TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.


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