What does it take to build and maintain elite teams? This is a question that has intrigued many leaders and managers across various industries. To explore this topic, I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Carney, the Chief HR Officer of Carter Bank and Trust. Paul is not only an accomplished HR professional but also a published author and a certified AI prompt engineer. In our conversation, Paul shared his insights on the care and feeding of elite teams, drawing from his experience in building an HR function from scratch and working with high-performing teams. Let's dive into the main themes that emerged from our discussion.
Building Resilience and Fostering Engagement
One of the key factors in developing elite teams is building mental resilience and fostering engagement. Paul emphasized the importance of resilience in overcoming challenges and achieving high performance. He drew parallels between elite athletes and professionals in the workplace, highlighting the need to push past boundaries and be comfortable with discomfort. According to Paul, resilience is the foundation for engagement, which is crucial for team success. He stated, "When you provide people the ability to have some autonomy in their decisions when you provide people the ability to understand the purpose of what they're all trying to do... you get down to that level of engagement."
To foster engagement, Paul emphasized the role of trust in team dynamics. He explained that trust is built through the leader's ability to earn the trust of team members and create an environment where trust can flourish among team members. He said, "You've got to figure out how to build that trust... The leader has to engender people's trust... and then they've got to get each other to trust each other." Paul highlighted the importance of trust in enabling individuals to put aside their egos and work towards the team's collective goals.
"You've got to figure out how to build that trust... The leader has to engender people's trust... and then they've got to get each other to trust each other."
The Role of the Leader as a Coach
In developing elite teams, the leader plays a crucial role as a coach. Paul emphasized the need for leaders to identify and nurture the strengths of each individual on the team. He stated, "It really comes down to understanding and managing... the egos and the personalities... You've got to help them understand their strengths and what they can do." Paul highlighted the importance of managing egos and expectations, ensuring that individuals understand their role within the team and how their strengths contribute to overall success.
Furthermore, Paul emphasized the role of unsung leaders within the team. He explained that identifying individuals who can help bring the team together and act as captains is essential for team cohesion. These unsung leaders, according to Paul, can help the coach in getting the team to an elite level. He said, "It's hard to have a really elite team without that person or persons on the team who can help the coach get them all to that level."
"It's hard to have a really elite team without that person or persons on the team who can help the coach get them all to that level."
Nurturing Growth and Providing Rest
The final aspect of the care and feeding of elite teams is nurturing growth and providing rest. Paul highlighted the importance of continuous learning and development in enabling individuals to push past their boundaries and reach elite levels of performance. He emphasized the need for hands-on experience and practice, stating, "You've got to get hands-on dirty, fall down, pick up, dust off, and move on because that's how we all learn those lessons."
In addition to continuous learning, Paul emphasized the importance of rest and recharge. He shared his personal practice of taking time off and disconnecting from work to recharge. He encouraged individuals to prioritize rest and relaxation, stating, "Just be honest with yourself... You chose to allocate your time." Paul highlighted the need for individuals to allocate time for rest and rejuvenation to maintain energy levels and avoid burnout.
Implications and Future Outlook
The insights shared by Paul Carney have significant implications for leaders and managers in building and maintaining elite teams. By focusing on building resilience, fostering engagement, and nurturing growth, leaders can create an environment where individuals can thrive and reach their full potential. Trust and effective communication are key to developing strong team dynamics, while the role of the leader as a coach is crucial in identifying and nurturing individual strengths.
Looking ahead, the future of elite teams lies in the ability to adapt and embrace continuous learning. As technology advances and industries evolve, teams will need to continuously develop new skills and stay ahead of the curve. Rest and recharge will also become increasingly important as organizations recognize the value of work-life balance and employee well-being.
In conclusion, the care and feeding of elite teams require a holistic approach that encompasses mental resilience, engagement, coaching, continuous learning, and rest. By prioritizing these aspects, leaders can create an environment where elite teams can thrive and achieve exceptional results. As we navigate the challenges of the modern workplace, the insights shared by Paul Carney serve as a valuable guide for building and maintaining high-performing teams.
Note: This article is based on a conversation with Paul Carney, Chief HR Officer of Carter Bank and Trust. All quotes are verbatim from the transcript of the conversation.