Creating a Winning Team

by Jean Briese

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while… you don’t do things right once in a while… you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” —Vince Lombardi

America loses $360 billion annually due to an unmotivated work group. The same study shows that engaged employees are 43 percent more productive than non-engaged employees.

In a recent survey, more than 90 percent of executives said culture is important at their firms, and 78 percent said culture is among the top five things that make their company valuable. 

Only 15 percent said their own corporate culture is where it needed to be and believe that improving culture would improve results.

Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control. 

The good news is that it isn’t magic. There are five pillars that are shared by all high-performing teams that I have captured in the iLEAD Principle. Put these into action immediately to improve your culture- and your results! 

Inspire. Listen. Empower. Appreciate. Deliver Clear Expectations.


Leaders who inspire influence others to take action. But exactly how do you inspire? Inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions — and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control. Here are some practical ideas to help inspire your employees:

  • Paint your employees an attractive picture of the future of the organization and their place in it, and provide the rationale why certain goals have to be pursued.
  • Connect your employees to the “why.” Remind them of how their work improves people’s lives. 
  • Distribute client testimonials. 
  • Announce when profits are donated to charities. 


It is probably not a surprise that most employees do not feel heard at work. The inspirational leader listens to the people in her organization. Talking to people about your passion is not enough. You must allow the ideas and thoughts of your staff to help form the vision and mission, or, minimally, the goals and action plan. No one is ever 100-percent supportive of a direction she had no part in formulating. Here are a few tips for connecting with your team on this level:

  • Hold a daily huddle — informally gather everyone around, standing, not sitting. It’s a chance to share wins, best practices and celebrations, and answer burning questions. 
  • Find out what motivates and inspires each employee, and actively look for their ideas and opinions.
  • Simply asking how someone is doing personally and really listening to her answer is a good first step. 


An employee who clearly understands the core values, purpose and direction of the company can easily make consistent decisions and take appropriate action at any junction. It’s on you as the leader to impart your vision. That’s how you lead. Some tips for empowering your team include:

  • Clearly define the roles. Require accountability. Support their independence.
  • Make it okay to take responsible risks. Encourage safe failure. 
  • Challenge status quo.
  • Reward self-improvement. 


About 43 percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, compared to 18 percent of employees with low engagement. How do you show appreciation and give feedback?

  • Catch them doing the little things right. (Great for the daily huddle.)
  • Diversify awards to meet employees’ needs. These awards can include outings, trophies, point reward system, PTO.
  • Honor employees publicly. Recognize and praise often. 

Deliver Clear Expectations

This seems obvious. But in so many organizations it isn’t. Maybe the leaders know the key performance metrics. I have been in organizations where the directors in charge of the teams didn’t understand how the decisions they made impacted the overall goals of the organizations. Communicate clearly so everyone understands what’s needed and their part in success!

Inspire. Listen. Empower. Appreciate. Deliver Clear Expectations.

Add these techniques to your culture and start creating winning teams today.

Jean Briese is Arizona’s most reviewed and highest-rated speaker, an award-winning sales leader and a transformational coach. For more information, visit www.

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events