Blog #Leadership

Welcome to the Blogs by the Excel Group Team. We're passionate about building Team and Management Effectiveness.


Talent management. What does this year hold for managers and their teams? A new year often brings a new mindset and in a post-pandemic pivot, many may be looking to change jobs (or managers).6 Key Points to Prepare for a Post-Pandemic Pivot.

What does 2021 hold for managers and their teams? A new year often brings a new mindset and in a post-pandemic pivot, many may be looking to change jobs (or managers).

This past year, I found it interesting to observe my oldest son’s experience with the pivot to remote work for his summer internship. In January 2020, while away in his 3rd year at university, my son was excited about the offer of a summer job at a respected bank’s head office within a 5-minute walk of our Toronto home. But by the time he started work in the spring, he had been transitioned to working remotely in front of his laptop, at home. He loved the onboarding, a virtual welcome that included participation from the CEO, as the organization found new ways to do things with the global ushering-in of a remote-work culture. After a summer of handling mortgage renewals from his home-based set-up, he returned to his final year of undergrad in September, while most of his coworkers continued to juggle working from home and navigating their kids’ online learning until daycares and schools re-opened. 

Impact of Remote Work

For my son, the experience was a time-limited novelty. But how is the sudden, protracted pivot to remote work going for those folks who have spent years in a totally different environment? What is the impact on organizations and their now-digital workers? Studies indicate that many are finding the adjustment challenging. A study byTelus International found that 75% of respondents “struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events,” and a full 80% said they would consider leaving their jobs for one that better balanced remote work and mental health.Research conducted by mental health tech firm Ginger found that almost 70% of workers feel more stressed than at any other time in their careers. Clearly, in this evolving work-from-home culture, everyone is facing challenges, especially in the area of communication. The regular stream of conversation between coworkers, and between managers and staff, ordinary discussions about how things are going in the organization—all have been muted. So, it becomes an even more critical management responsibility to communicate what is unseen and what is taking place, to give clarity and transparency of expectations and metrics, and to listen to team members. 

Leading Through The Pandemic Pivot

With remote working, managers who lead teams are tasked with a cultural pivot in the way they lead people. From Zoom meetings to onboarding new talent, some managers are adjusting well, but many are failing. Those who are less successful are responsible (often unknowingly) for the disengagement of team members, leading to a decline in performance. And, in a post-pandemic world, these managers and organizations will almost certainly lose talent to the teams and leaders who have mastered the people pivot. To avoid losing staff to stress and overall dissatisfaction, leaders need to master the post-pandemic pivot in building resilient teams. Here are a few tips to keep your people engaged and productive, despite the distance. 

6 Keys to Mastering the Post-Pandemic 

1) Start with Personal Wellness

Recognize that as a leader, the first person you lead is yourself. You can’t lead from a place of poor health and personal exhaustion. Especially post-holidays, many health and wellness experts encourage regular exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating while limiting alcohol and sugar intake for positive mental and physical health.

TIP:Determine the best time in your routine to build in some regular exercise. Personally, if I don’t get out early in the morning, I run the risk of not working out at all. There is less opportunity for interruption at 6 am (check out The 5 AM Club, a book by Robin Sharma). Perhaps set up a regular socially-distanced walk or run with a friend or neighbour for accountability.

2 ) Engagement begins with Empathy: Balance People Performance with Profit

A study published in Harvard Business Review found that “empathetic companies outperform their more callous counterparts by 20 percent. When people feel understood themselves, they’re more receptive to others’ concerns—and team cohesion, collaboration and innovation tend to follow suit.” This last year has required the prioritization of people before productivity and profits in the short term. People perform better when they feel listened to and supported.

TIP: Enhance active listening skills by asking great questions. If your direct report is more introverted and you need to discuss significant issues, consider emailing them questions for discussion a day in advance of your online meeting. They will appreciate the preparation time to make a virtual dialogue more productive.

3) Stop Managing; Engage by Coaching and Communicating

In the pre-pandemic world, many managers failed to make the shift from directing or micro managing to coaching. During the pandemic, managers already have enough fires to put out, so they need to keep their coaching hats on. It’s crucial to frame the context of problems and challenges and then use focused questions, inviting team members to contribute solutions themselves. This strategy will continue to be vital for goal coaching in the future, looking beyond pandemic issues to post-pandemic goals and metrics.

TIP: Coach team members to be solution-oriented. When they have a problem to overcome, don’t rush to solve it for them. Encourage them to bring up 2–3 potential solutions to any challenges they present. Get into the habit of asking, “What do you think we should do with that? How can you solve that?”  Be the leader that practices collaboration vs dictatorship. Developing a team culture that embraces and effectively navigates change together ensures transferable success through to post-pandemic times.

4) Build Trust with Empowerment 

In support of a culture of superior remote work practices, Siemens CEO Roland Busch shared their two guiding principles: 1) Focus on outcomes rather than time spent in the office, and 2) Trust and empower your employees. For some work cultures, this may already be a big leap. In his book The Culture Connection, my friend Marty Parker makes the point that for the organizations that get it right, “Culture is a competitive advantage.” Some cultures will adapt and thrive in this shift to remote work, while others will have significant talent turnover.

TIP: Building on point 3 above—empowering staff in problem-solving is a display of trust that enhances engagement. Your role is to bridge the gap between the performance metrics of the organization’s “what” and the staff’s evolving need for pandemic flexibility in determining the “how” of getting the job done. Find the balance of holding them accountable to established outcome metrics while coaching them to be creative and innovative in taking ownership of the “how” in their solutions. Inculcate the habit of asking (can you think of 3 ways you can expedite that?) vs. telling them. Your engagement and performance scorecard results will be directly related to how well you do this.

5) Avoid Cookie Cutter Management

Learn your team members’ unique communication styles.Remember each team is made up of different members who have different communication styles, different work preferences, and different management needs. Moreover, everyone has different stress triggers as they navigate the pandemic. Some prefer more interaction, while others are fine to work from home methodically in seclusion. What may create stress for one may be preferred for others. It will be important for you to reflect on the behavioural dynamics of your team members and allow for some adaptation.

In short:

  • Get to know your own style first. (your communication style, pace, how you come across to others etc)
  • Then, get to know your people.
  • Adapt as needed and invite their unique proposals for how and when they prefer to interact to achieve their needed work outcomes.

TIP: Using psychometric profiles such as DISC can help to accelerate your understanding of team members' styles. This proactive step reduce the conflict, stress, and mismanagement that comes from a lack of understanding style differences (see

6) Nurture Passion and Creative Fun

In his book Passion Capital, Paul Alofs makes the case that the greatest asset an organization has as a competitive advantage is the engaged passion of staff. At a time when office real estate assets are often sitting empty, it is the people and talent that organizations are depending on to continue to achieve organizational objectives. Passion Capital expressed as a formula in the book is shown as: Passion Capital = Energy + Intensity + Sustainability. During the pandemic, these factors are all challenged. Looking after and engaging your greatest asset—your people—is critical.

TIP: Be intentional about encouraging their wellness and creative about noticing people in times of accomplishment and then expressing gratitude.Things like a personal handwritten note mailed to their home, or an electronic gift card for a catered meal or house-cleaning, can go a long way during these chaotic times. Build in some fun, too. Find out what engages your team and unleash some fun on the job. Competition? Virtual team cocktails at the end of a busy week?

In the end, it’s important to remind ourselves, organizations don’t achieve results—people do. Starting with yourself, stay well, and let’s get our people through this together.

C.  Reynolds
Chief Teamer

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6 min read

When you hire and retain talent, their engagement is critical. 3 Tips for Team Engagement

Can you tell the difference between an employee who is truly engaged, and one who isn't? Try looking at the difference in quality of service you receive.

 On a recent business trip I was provided with the opportunity to experience and juxtapose some very different levels of service and employee engagement:

At a Tampa hotel, we were greeted by energized staff who went out of their way to assist us. We had also noted several employees at the airport who seemed to honestly enjoy helping the passengers. But then there was the disappointment I experienced during a visit to my preferred addiction supplier, Starbucks. When I arrived at the coffee house located in a Chapters store during what was clearly a slow period, three baristas were chatting behind the counter, and were unenthusiastic about interrupting the conversation to take my order. As I waited for my caffeine fix, my dissatisfaction with the service level was only amplified by the obvious lack of store cleanliness, with litter scattered on the floor and tables. If this was the consistent experience offered, would most brand loyalists return? I think not.

In any organization, a lack of engagement is costly. Disengaged staff often take more sick days, turn off more customers, lag in productivity and, when in management or on a team, can spread their "disengagement virus" faster than a runny nose in a day care.

Conversely, engaged staff create superior customer experiences, initiate innovative problem solving, and inspire their peers to greater performance - all factors that, when sustained, will contribute to the organization's bottom line. In his book Passion Capital, Paul Alofs discusses the energized, sustained, and strategically deployed engagement of associates as the most valuable asset an organization can have, using the equationPassion Capital = Energy + Intensity + Sustainability.

Customers and clients can certainly tell the difference between a team member who is engaged, and one who is not. Following a tour of the new Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and their amazing 50,000 square foot wellness center, it was a pleasure to meet and speak with CEO Brian Adams. He is an engaged leader who sees the connection between engaged staff and excellence in patient care. From the person at reception, to security guards, to management team members, to the obvious pride that the VP of HR exhibited during the tour, it was clear that the level of engagement in their mission was high.

So how does an organization go about enhancing staff engagement? There is no single answer to this question - there are three areas that need to be integrated in order to both achieve and sustain a high level of engagement.

3 Important Factors for Engagement

1) Hire Right Fit Employees

Understand and align staff members' intrinsic motivators with the job. Don't hire Mother Teresa as a sales leader, or Donald Trump as the director of counselling for a homeless shelter. Mother Teresa was passionately engaged by helping and serving others, hence the work she did in Calcutta.  Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is passionately engaged by “The Art of The Deal” in his business/political pursuits, and would likely not be energized in the same role.

2) Coach Your Staff Uniquely and Effectively

With the understanding that staff members have different styles and motivators, managers must learn how to coach them accordingly. Coaching Mother Teresa and Donald Trump requires two different approaches in order to engage their natural, intrinsic talents. Also, understanding how important the role of culture is, it can sometimes become necessary for managers to recognize poor fit and “coach them to be successful somewhere else.” As Alofs mentions in his book, “A culture of passion capital can be compromised by the wrong people. Tend the weeds.”

3) Engage Teamwork

Years ago I heard Jim Jacobus repeat the quote "Inside every human being, a champion heart beats." The challenge at times is, once you have a talented team of engaged champions, they need to work together. In 1984, when Bob Geldoff wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? and recruited talented celebrities to record it together, he knew enough to hang a sign at the entrance that said “Please leave your ego at the door.” Engaged people need to work together, respecting each others' unique passions, talents, and roles to accomplish the bigger purpose ahead of them. Imagine our human body as a team, driving a car. If the foot says to the eyes, “I’m the most important when it comes to controlling how fast we go” and the eyes respond by simply shutting, there might be some trouble reaching our destination. When engaged talents don’t work together well, it compromises productivity, performance and even talent retention. Again, in a “Coaching Culture” managers lead by leveraging engaged people in a way that cultivates their multiplied talents. As the saying goes “It takes teamwork to make a dream work.”

Hire Right, Coach Effectively, Embed Team Effectiveness, then stand back and observe engagement extended to customers and clients.

In the Spirit of Growth,

Chuck Reynolds is President and Chief Performance Officer of Excel Group Development in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 481- 4802 or visit for more information. 

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3 min read

Have you ever had what you felt was lousy service while on holiday, and vowed never to return? Well, this hotel experience transformed us. We've all heard or read about nightmare experiences in hotels or resorts.

Have you ever had what you felt was lousy, nightmarish hotel service, and vowed never to return? This hotel experience left an indelible impression.  We often say that the culture is set from the top down: if managers and leaders don't lead a service culture, they can't expect the rest of the organization to serve clients well, and soon the brand is adversely affected. News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

 Being originally from Brazil and Jamaica respectively, my wife and I enjoy regular breaks in a warmer climate ( its part of our DNA). We have enjoyed countless trips to the Bavarro beach in Punta Cana in the D.R., usually staying at the Melia or Paradisus. On our recent trip, however, we opted to try a new hotel chain that we weren't previously familiar with. With some trepidation, we booked a 2-week stay with teens in tow at a property that featured a massive water park. Within 30 hours of our arrival I was frustrated, irritated, and ready to believe that this entire vacation would be a nightmare of lousy service. In fact, I had already decided never to return to a Memories or Royalton hotel ever again.

SPOILER ALERT: It didn't work out the way I planned. They transformed our minds and we have returned several times to Royalton since this was first published and have referred many friends and family members there. Why? The short answer is, they fumbled, but the recovery was so phenomenal we became self-appointed Royalton ambassadors. I've never seen such a service recovery before. The remarkable recovery led by one manager and his team made all the difference. Below, we've unpacked the glitch and recovery as well as 5 tips we observed for Leading a Service Culture.

The Service Glitch (if you're a Core D style scroll to the bottom )

We wanted to try the Royalton Hotel in Punta Cana as it was closer to the beach, but it was sold out. (bummer). We learned after our arrival that this was due to one of the largest (150 guests) and most beautiful destination weddings that I'd ever seen. We opted to book at the neighboring sister property (with some older rooms) , Memories Splash.

On the first day , our room keys didn't work. No worries - we went to the front desk and got a new set. We returned about 6pm after an active day, ready to freshen for dinner only to find that the new keys no longer worked and we were unable to gain access to our room (again). A little disappointed, I walked back to the main office and requested a third set of keys. Once I returned to the room, however, I found that this set did not work either and we were still locked out, necessitating yet another trip back to the front desk. This time I was told that someone would be sent to help within 5-10 minutes.

He arrived (20 minutes later) examined the locks but there was no progress, and he radioed a colleague for help. As we sat in the hallway for another half hour, the two employees called a third person, and eventually the team effort (over 2 hours later) did lead to results. After finally getting into our room - we were tired, hungry, and irritated - only to find that it had never been cleaned. Apparently the cleaning staff had also been unable to open the doors when they came by earlier in the day, but it seemed they hadn't alerted anyone to the problem at the time (a simple move that could have saved us more than two hours of aggravation).
As my family headed to the showers to prepare for a late dinner, I pulled out the laptop, found the information for the head office (in Canada), and emailed off a note voicing my extreme displeasure - should anyone there care to listen.

The Incredible Service Recovery

By the time we returned from dinner, I had a response to my email, both online and in hard-copy letter under our door, from a member of the management team onsite. He invited us to meet with him the next day to discuss our experience, and what followed was a perfect example of what to do right, when something's gone wrong.

At our meeting the manager listened patiently, took notes, and politely asked questions to clarify what had happened. At the end of the meeting he thanked us for our feedback, sincerely apologized, and promised to look into the matter (we later found out that it was a major software glitch in the card access system). He explained that it was a relatively new hotel, and they would appreciate any further feedback. He went on to say that they wanted to take this opportunity to demonstrate the level of service that Royalton aspires to as a brand standard. He upgraded us to a new room with expanded restaurant privileges and introduced us to our dedicated butler, Franklyn. (Having watched a lot of Fresh Prince of Bel Air episodes, my youngest wanted to call him "G".)

We spent the remainder of the two weeks learning about and enjoying the resort, and we have since shared with many friends and family just how impressed we were with the Royalton Punta Cana property. Our often-demanding teens loved the Teen Lounge, meeting other teens from around the world (and using their French). The waterpark also lived up to the marketing, and was indeed "Splashtastic". My wife and I enjoyed the 24-hour gym, the coffee shop, the food, the ambient time themed music and much more - (too many things to list.)

We would never have become the self-appointed volunteer Royalton Brand Ambassadors, were it not for the head office response and service leadership of Mr. Juan Carlos Perolta. He checked in with us each time he saw us on the property. His actions demonstrated the importance and benefits of leading a service culture. Out of curiosity, we extended an invitation for him to complete one of our online behavioural surveys. The resulting profile documented his listening skills and showed just how well-suited he was to leadca team in his role. Regardless of industry, leading a service culture is crucial for sustained organizational success.

5 Keys to Leading a Service Culture

1) Hire "Right" - Hire managers who sincerely enjoy serving the public (think smiling persona vs. accounting boss type). Hiring wrong fit can adversely impact your brand and bottom line.

2) Coach - Clarify service expectations regularly and coach staff for alignment, e.g., Greet guests with a smile and "Hola" when you pass them.

3) Model Service - Ensure managers lead by example. They should lead first, by treating their staff with respect and encouragement so staff have the esteem, confidence and desire to assist in serving customers at a superior level.

4) Listen for Understanding and Improvement - When service glitches occur (and they will), don't listen to the customers just to shut them up. Listen to learn and turn it around. What can you do to change their experience?

5) Get Customer Help - Turn customers/guests/clients into brand ambassadors. Invite them to assist in helping your organization learn what is going well, and how you can improve. You would be surprised how easy it is to do this by simply asking, "What can we do better or differently?"

There's no big secret to service excellence. It all begins with a sincere desire to serve your customers/ clients, and grows from there and could end with engaged long term customers. Remember, every time you encounter a service "fumble", view it as an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the recovery.

In the spirit of growth,

Charles (Chuck) Reynolds

Excel Group is a Canadian based firm with a reputation for helping organizations to enhance their engagement and effectiveness in Team, Management and Sales Effectiveness using Behavioural Science. 

#Teamwork #Disc #Conferences #Meetings #Coaching #Royalton #Sunwing #hotels #Service.

** UPDATE **

In the few years since this service recovery we have been back a few times. We have also been to their sister brand Chic Punta Cana and referred friends and family seeking a warm break.

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4 min read

Sometimes even executives leave if teamwork doesn't work. 3 Tools leaders can use for better teamwork.

Sometimes even if executives leave if teamwork doesn't work.
3 Tools leaders can use for better teamwork.

 A while back the President  of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live operations Steve Sinofsky, was reported to have left his employer. Yes, the gracious press releases indicate a civil parting of the ways with the executive, however inside reports indicated the departure came as a result of infighting that had reached a boiling point (see story on

"Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live operations, is leaving the company just weeks after launching its new operating system, Windows 8... Still, there was immediate speculation that the company had become worried over Sinofsky's ability to get along with other executives, including CEO Ballmer, given a new emphasis on collaboration.
Reuters reported Tuesday that one former Microsoft staffer who worked with Sinofsky had said his aggressive style exasperated other leaders and may have alienated too many people, including his mentor, Microsoft founder Bill Gates." (from CBC News Online)

Without a doubt, constant innovation requires an exchange of ideas mixed with healthy disagreement. Unchecked however, deeply-rooted conflict and personality clashes serve to undermine trust, which is the foundation required for team and organizational effectiveness (see our earlier blog post on Relationship Mismanagement).

In working with organizations as diverse as the Marines, global Pharmaceuticals, and not-for-profits, we've seen 3 major tools that leaders can harness for enhancing team effectiveness and reducing conflict.

1) Understand your team members’ unique personalities (behavioral stylesand motivators).
Some will be quite extroverted and voice their opinions without hesitation (often dominating meeting time), while others are more reflective and slower to verbalize ideas. The challenge is that, while the introverts may have incredible ideas, if there is perceived conflict they may not feel comfortable sharing them. I recall having the honor of working with a  large group that  combined military commanders with private sector project leaders. The session on working styles and motivators created such team understanding and impact that their senior leader proceeded to share the information of how best to optimize working with him on their shared intranet, and encouraged his whole team to do the same as he sought to understand them better.
A leader who can recognize and coach to different styles, overcoming their own natural style preference and biases, will be valued by any team/organization. They will be able to engage more productivity and minimize unproductive conflict while increasing retention.

2) Coach-Lead with Questions.
You may recall the quote, “a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still." In working as a team member or leader, one engages others and opens team learning with the use of strategic questioning. The days of "boss-management" dictating orders to staff, much like some of the theories of  Fred Winslow Taylor in the late 1800's, are from a bygone era. In our knowledge-based economy, it is more about gaining commitment vs. enforcing compliance. It is the team member or leader skilled at strategic questioning who will engage others in maximizing commitment for developing and sharing ideas. The "dictatorial boss" will just gain compliance to minimal job requirements. A leader who asks the right questions will harness intellectual and creative engagement, and enjoy the resulting deployment of discretionary effort.

3) Practice Active Listening. 
Whether it be in team communications, customer services or coach-leading staff, the discipline of active listening is critical for 3 important reasons. First, listening facilitates focus – it allows us to be very clear on where we are before we start making the changes that will lead us to where we need to be. Secondly, given ongoing continuous change, continuous learning is crucial. Talk show host Larry King once said, “I never learned a thing when I was doing the talking." His discipline of asking questions and listening on the show was well documented. Listeners are learners. And finally, think about how you feel when you are fully listened to vs. interrupted or ignored. Extrapolate that feeling to behaviors/actions. With that "ignored" feeling, team members or staff will dial down their engagement. If your goal is to foster collaboration and engagement, active listening is a discipline that will increase your effectiveness.

At the end of the day, organizations don't achieve results - people do. As a team member or coach-leader, your ability to understand and get along with others will be one of the most important attributes you can develop. It takes true, non-ego-driven teamwork to make a dream work. Organizations that foster a culture of understanding and coaching to leverage differences will harness sustainable performance, innovation and retention.

In the Spirit of Growth

Chuck Reynolds Excel Group

Chuck Reynolds

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3 min read

"What's the difference between a Manager and a Coach?" That question often leads us to another:

One of the questions we often hear discussed is, "What's the difference between a Manager and a Coach?"
That question often leads us to another: "What is the difference between Management and Leadership?"
 Best selling author Brian Tracy says,

"Management is transactional, while Leadership is Transformational." Management responsibilities can include many areas, from budgeting to planning and reports, and general administration. Leadership, however, also includes the component of leading and supporting people, in a way that will ultimately allow them to achieve, be productive, and experience growth.

To answer the first question, "What's the difference between a Manager (a boss) and a Coach (a leader)?", let's look at some context. One challenge that occurs in most organizations is that people move into the management role once they have mastered some technical competence in a department or role. And so, a great sales person will be promoted to sales management, or a top-notch software engineer developing code for the project is promoted to manage other programmers, or a productive accountant is promoted to Controller or Accounting Manager. The challenge is that the familiarity with the transactional side of management (often viewed as completing a list of tasks and achieving a result) is very different than the competence of leading others (through whom you are now tasked with achieving the result). In the absence of effective leadership development, managers can fall into the habit of dictating to-do lists, micromanaging, or unnecessarily rolling up their sleeves to become a 'Do For' boss or reverse delegator. We've seen new Sales Managers take over the sales process in a client meeting, much to the frustration of the Account Executive who is now responsible for the account. Over the years we've reviewed volumes of 360 Management Feedback reports, and have seen some clear habit/behavior distinctions between what we call the "Boss Manager" and the "Coach Leader".

Here are 5 Key Differences between a Manager/Boss and a Coach/Leader:

A Coach spends more time listening and asking questions, while a Boss spends more time speaking and giving directions.

A Coach invests time in observing, while a Boss makes quick assumptions.

A Coach uncovers issues to get the the root of a problem, while a Boss takes the quickest route to deal with the surface symptoms.

A Coach helps Direct Reports accept responsibility, while a Boss assigns blame.

A Coach supports employees in developing their plans, while a Boss gives them the plan and tells them to follow it.

We've all experienced variations of Boss vs. Leader types in our working lives. The truth is, it seems easier and more expedient to "boss" than to coach. But research and anecdotal evidence both show that coach/leaders have more engaged employees, and get better results. Do you have more "boss" types or coaches in your organization? Whether you're the head of a global organization, or just trying to be effective in leading a small team, perhaps it's time to ask yourself - am I more of a boss, or a leader? What would your employees say?

In the Spirit of Growth,

Chuck (Charles)


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2 min read

5 Crucial Team Factors

Let me tell you a little about a team I observed recently. 

This team was formed only years ago, in 2002, and they have since worked with any number of major players in the entertainment space, including . Their success as a group has been remarkable. They have appeared on Jay Leno, The Today Show, Conan O'Brien and Oprah. They have performed for royalty, and for the likes of Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Michael Jackson.

I had the opportunity to see this team in action recently, and would recommend them not only as an evening of incredible entertainment, but also as a model for several crucial features of a successful team. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a performance by The Soweto Gospel Choir. Now I understand why this Grammy Award winning team has earned so many accolades!

5 Crucial Success Factors

1) United Team Mission

The Soweto Gospel Choir was founded by the late David Mulovhedzi in 2002. The Mulovhedzi family, under David's leadership, sought to unite talented singers and dancers who could bring the joy of African Gospel music to others. In doing so, they also wanted to help local youth and families within their own community. To this end, they also founded and continue to support an AIDS orphans' foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani. At the end of the day, people are inspired by a purpose or mission. Whether it be an organization or a department, your team must have a guiding mission - what's yours?

2) Engaged Team Members

Have you ever walked into a retail store, restaurant or place of business and been put off by the seemingly-uninterested staff? I often find myself wondering why and how these individuals were hired. When the Soweto Gospel Choir performs, audiences can see the intensity and passion that each team member brings to the role. Not only are they each attracted to the mission of the team, but they must also audition their talents in order to earn a spot in the choir. Likewise, an effective team at any organization is made up of individuals who are screened (internally or externally) for not only their talents, but also their cultural fit with the existing team. CEO Tony Hsieh is known for hiring for cultural fit, and you should too. The result is superior engagement. Any team that hires someone who just wants a "job" will miss the mark.

3) Relentless Pursuit of Improvement

Today, every organization and team must continue to enhance performance and productivity in their current roles, but also innovate for future growth. The Soweto Gospel Choir members' impressive perfection of execution in vocal and dance skill is achieved through rigorous rehearsal and constant growth. Their evolving global success has seen their repertoire expand from traditional African gospel to include a broader selection of pieces. They closed the recent show with an inspiring rendition of the American Gospel classic, "Oh Happy Day".

4) Transference of Energy/Passion to the Audience

Do you find it refreshing to work with - or buy from - people who have a passion for what they do? Brian Tracy says that "effective sales is the transference of enthusiasm". When a team is made up of individuals who perform at their best with intense passion, other departments (internal and external) take pleasure in supporting them and being a part of it. And, of course, customers are moved to "participate" as well.

5) Humility of Service

So much energy is wasted and non-productive conflict produced by team members' egos. In when Bob Geldof initiated the "Band Aid" production in support of famine relief, he hung a sign at the entrance where the many big-name pop stars of the day were arriving to participate that said, "Leave your ego at the door". At the end of the Soweto Gospel Choir's show, the energetic conductor (Shimmy Jiyane) asked the audience if they wanted "one more", and then, "how about two more?" After the show, he could be seen along with other members of the choir in the lobby, mingling and posing for countless pictures with members of the audience. No inflated egos were on display there - despite their success, they remain engaged and clearly focussed on their mission together as a group. 

Any team that strives to harness these 5 related factors can surely achieve great things in harmony!

Chuck Reynolds, CPO, Excel Group

Chuck Reynolds


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2 min read