“Without ambition, one starts nothing...


...Without work, one finishes nothing.”

In today’s dynamic business environment, it seems far too many leaders are struggling with getting started in a direction for their business, completing a strategic objective for their business or some combination of the two. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote in the title then ends with, “The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” In the context of today’s business environment, how ambitious is the team you lead to move in a specific direction as a team? How hard is your team willing to work as a team to finish what they start and achieve the team’s desired results? Let’s explore both questions through the lens of leadership required to answer them effectively.

However, before we get to ambition and work ethic, let’s first level-set on the use of the term “Team”. Unfortunately, team and teamwork are often used improperly to describe a group. A true team has the three elements that separate it from a similar sized group. A true team is made up of people with complimentary skills leveraged around achieving common goals who hold each other collectively accountable to those goals. As we further discuss ambition and work ethic in a team setting, the context is through this lens of true teamwork.

Ambition is defined in Merriam-Webster as having a “strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” Ambition defines a specific level of effort well above the average to achieve a goal not otherwise easily achieved. How strong a desire is enough for effective change? While situations will vary depending on the business, my experience in managing change in various industries and business size would suggest at least 25% of a team needs to be committed to the change to gain even the slightest momentum. Because most humans ultimately look for security and stability, I have found that real momentum occurs when close to 75% of the team is committed to the new direction. The leader’s ability to leverage the early adopters to 25% to help achieve the 75% tipping point relies heavily on their effective communication skills. Motivation and ambition are personal so the message to change must hit each team member on an emotional level such that their own ambition becomes a success multiplier versus a change obstacle!

The secret to success without hard work…is still a secret! Being able to finish what is started is a sure sign a team has the focus, discipline and work ethic to see something through to its successful completion. Focus allows the team to keep the end goals front and center such that their day-to-day activities stay aligned to those goals. Team discipline allows the team to work through the obstacles, distractions and pivots that are standard in today’s dynamic business environment. Finally, a true team work ethic allows the team to leverage their complimentary skills in a way that aligns to their common goal and creates a climate where they are not afraid to hold each other accountable to the level of trust required to achieve their desired results!

Leading a true team is the leadership opportunity of a lifetime! It requires a level of effective communications that translates the leader’s vision into team ambition that is not afraid to break the status quo. It also requires a level of communications that inspires a level of teamwork that effectively and consistently achieves desired results!

How are you as a leader helping your team finish strong?

Lead Well!

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Friday, 23 February 2024