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Mirrors build strong teams


Mirrors Build Strong Teams


This article was originally produced for The Effect, Coach Effect’s Newsletter, Volume 1, No. 4
Copyright © 2004 Coach Effect. All rights reserved. 
Leadership Sherpa is a trademark of Coach Effect. 
Permission to reproduce this article must be obtained through Coach Effect.
Used with permission of the author:
Author: Jennifer Mounce
President, Coach Effect
13 December 2007

Do you want to know why your team behaves and performs the way they do?  You just have to look in a mirror.  Your team is an expression of you.  The way you behave and perform is carefully watched by your team and they will, knowingly or not, pick up your traits.   

If you don't believe me, I would encourage you to take a look around at the other leaders you interact with on a regular basis.  Find a leader who you believe to be well-organized and really has their stuff together.  Now, look at the people who report to them.  Generally speaking I would expect the team to also be pretty well organized and appear “put together”. 

Now, let’s look at the opposite side.  Identify someone who always seems to be scrambling, fighting fires, and is always frantic.  Is their team the epitome of “calm and collected”?  In the years I’ve spent coaching leaders, I would find it hard to believe.  It’s more likely that the team is just as frantic and scrambling as their leader.

Teams do pick up the traits, habits, even idiosyncrasies of their leaders.  So a critical step in building an outstanding team is to look in the mirror.  By taking a good look at your own behaviors, skills, knowledge, and ability you could learn a lot about what your team needs to continue to grow.

Outlined below are 3 areas you may want to view in your mirror:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Professionalism


Read each of the following statements and determine if they are true or false for you.

  • I take time to communicate formally and informally with my team on a regular basis.
  • Individuals who report to me stop in on a regular basis with various issues.
  • Usually I communicate with my direct reports face-to-face or over the phone and only use email when it’s necessary. 
  • When I have information from other departments or from upper management, the parent company, or the board of directors I find time to share it.
  • I provide positive and constructive feedback regularly.

If you answered “true” to each statement, your communication may be a strong area for you.  If you answered “false” to any of the statements, you may want to consider what message you are sending to your team.  What actions could you take to turn the false statement into a true one?


You will get as much organization out of your team as you put into them.  If you are well organized, take the time to provide tips to your team about how they can stay organized.

If you could use some tips in this area too, here are some things to consider:

  • Take time each day to prepare for the day (or the next day depending on when you prepare.)  Review the whole week and how the day fits into the whole week.
  • Set realistic expectations about what you set out to accomplish.  A two-page list of things-to-do is setting yourself up for failure when you have some certainty that getting through one-quarter of one-page will be difficult to accomplish.
  • Proclaim a “clean up day” and use the time to organization your desk, hanging files, emails, and electronic files.


How you carry yourself in the office: your presence, demeanor, attitude will show up in your team.  For instance, the little things, like “hello, good morning, please, and thank you” go a long way in showing common courtesy and respect for your employees.  If you stop the pleasantries they will eventually stop throughout the group and the tone of your team will change. 

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 = “I maintain a high level of professionalism” and 10 = “My team knows to stay out of my way, I’m about to blow”, rate the following statements:

  • I just found out there will be company-wide layoffs and my department is sure to get hit.
  • My boss just gave me a mediocre review and a less than stellar increase.
  • Another department messed something up again and it’s going to make us miss our deliverable.

How did you do?  If you answered closer to 10 than 1 this may be the area you want to focus on.  It takes translating awareness into action.  Being aware of how you act is directly related to how your team acts is the first step.  What next step do you need to take to move your answers one place closer to “1”?

After going through just three attributes to start, I encourage you to take action.  None of us are above learning and growing a little.  What is one thing you can take away from this that will help enhance the reflection you see?

Coach Effectwas created out of a passion for working with senior leaders, high potentials and business owners who are ready to set big goals, climb high and reach extraordinary places. President, Jennifer Mounce, SPHR is a leadership sherpa, and has been partnering with leaders to increase their organizational effectiveness since 1994. She prides herself on a strong work ethic and her ability to provide powerful business solutions. Jennifer's industry background is diverse including high-technology manufacturing, an Internet start-up, and professional services. The companies ranged from a Fortune 500 to a national advertising agency and at one point included being on a team of 9 entrepreneurs that grew a start-up to 60 people within 2 years. Jennifer is uniquely qualified with her years of corporate background and hands-on experience to specialize in working with leaders. Jennifer's corporate experience began in the field of human resources and strengthened into a mix of organizational development, process improvement, coaching, human resources, communication, and training. She can be contacted at 773.580.8360 andwww.coacheffect.com

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Gary Watkins

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