• Tony Richards

How Your Team Can Learn From Success


Over the course of my executive coaching career, I have been a part of and also coached many fantastic teams. Some of those teams were not so fantastic when we started, some of them were pretty fractured and not very cohesive at all. They didn't have many wins, so the ones they did experience, we needed to gain as much momentum from those as we possibly could generate. In today's post, I want to share with you a technique I have used to try to squeeze as much juice from successes as possible.


It all starts with doing debriefs. It always amazes me how many executive teams go from thing to thing and event to event without ever doubling back for feedback. Jim Collins calls them autopsies; I have typically called them debriefs. Debriefs are simply the team or everyone involved in an initiative or an event sits down together and weighs in on their perspective on how things went, good, bad, or ugly. More than likely, especially on teams that have not experienced much success or maybe haven't reached much maturity, will focus heavily on what went wrong.


Certainly, this can be constructive up to a point, but if it goes on too long, it can become discouraging. Success breeds success and failure can breed more and more failure. I would suggest you spend more time in your team debriefs discussing what went right. Where is your team most successful? What went right? What happened that was good? What do you want to repeat? Once you find your successes, you discover exactly what you are going to repeat and leverage in the future.


When you focus on the positives, your team will walk away from the debriefing knowing and feeling good about contributing to a good event, endeavor, or initiative. In addition, psychologically the mindset will begin to shift so that wins will seem even more possible in the future, because you've affirmed and celebrated the wins they just accomplished.


So, the main question your team should be asking around the debrief table is not "Where did we fail?" The most important question you ask is, "Where did we shine?" And "How can we make that happen again?" Obsess over what is right, what is good, and you will go higher with your team. Focus on the victories, and your team will proceed to the next best level. You must be the leader who sets the tone with being relentlessly positive and your team will begin to get that rub from you.

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