"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."
Babe Ruth

Creating a team that is greater than the sum of its parts is one of the primary functions of the creative leader. It's all about (1) the culture the creative leader or "coach" creates, (2) how he/she motivates and operates the team, and (3) the type of behavior, leadership style and management ability the coach inspires in others. Too often the creative leader puts all his/her time and focus into one part of the organization. This is generally the area that is of greatest personal interest. Not keeping an eye on all parts at all times will short change the potential of the team.

To continue the sports team analogy, an in-house agency is an interdependent team. Within the team are members with unique experiences and capabilities who specialize and perform different functions (account management, writing, design etc.). The success of any project requires the help and cooperation of all team members. And, individual success is tied to the success of the whole team. No individual, no matter how talented, succeeds consistently by working alone. The role of the coach is to identify, encourage and integrate individual talent.

The Creative Leader as Coach

It's the job of the in-house team leader -- the coach -- to set overall vision and core values, and to imprint them in the minds of each team member. The coach must also train and mentor team members whose performance could affect the overall performance of the entire team. The last thing a coach needs is for one or more stubborn or unwilling players to cloud the view of their teammates' common vision and values, taking them off course and jeopardizing their collective goal in becoming a high-performing team.

In real life, teamwork success rarely happens by itself in the absence of focused team-building efforts and activities. This is why every team needs a focused leader who is able to deal with every aspect of teamwork issues before they become problems or obstacles.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you think of your group as a team? If you don't, your team won't.
  • Do you reward team performance? You won't achieve success if you don't reward team performance.
  • Do you want a high-performing team? It's not enough to tell your staff that they are a team and must perform as one. You have to show the members of your team that it benefits them personally.

Tip: You can do this by holding team meetings, posting team news and tracking team performance against team goals. This must be an everyday activity.

Example: You may have a great Account Manager on your team, but without the cooperation of the other members of the team (writers, designers), he/she won't be able to bring in new work or keep your current clients happy.

Success Factors

One factor in team effectiveness is the diversity of skills and personalities. When people use their strengths in full, they can compensate for each other's weaknesses. Different personality types balance and complement each other so that such diversity becomes an advantage.

Another critical element of teamwork success is that all the team efforts are directed toward the same clear goals, namely the defined team goals. This relies heavily on good communication within the team and the harmony in team member relationships.

The More Effective Your Team, the Greater the Benefits to the Corporation

Because your team is part of an even larger organization or team, your team must support the larger team. Your vision, values and goals must be in alignment with theirs:

  • Does your team support the corporate purpose? Be sure your team's goals and objectives support the corporate mission.
  • Does your vision support the corporate vision? If not, your team vision needs to change.
  • Do you values align with those of the corporation? They had better get in alignment quick!

Here are a couple of ideas that will help to ensure that your team is in lock step with the corporation.

  • Develop a "Playbook" for Success. Determining a clear vision and set of core values is one of the most important requirements in establishing a high-performing in-house team. It also gives an internal and external team contributor great insight into the basic leadership qualities the person managing the in-house team possesses.
  • "Draft" Talented Contributors. Most in-house leaders feel the weight and importance of building and maintaining a solid in-house team comprised of creative, versatile, passionate and strategic talent. So, what's the "high-performing" difference? The difference is that every person who occupies a position on a high-performing team also has an entrepreneurial spirit, owning their role and being accountable to the team and the organization for the work produced.

  • In Summary
    In short, team success is achieved when your in-house creatives accomplish something much bigger and better than a group of the same individuals could by working on their own. Every such success the creative leader and their team achieves will also be a success for your company. Begin with definition, fuel the team with motivation, and steer them with strong coaching guidance. The result will be greater than the sum of the effort required.

    Have you encountered similar scenarios or challenges within your department? If so, find out how Cella can provide you and your team with strategic direction. Cella's team of coaches and training's provide an array of individual and team sessions. For more information on our individual coaching for leadership transitions click here. For more information on team training such as Account Management & Project Management Boot Camps click here