Building a Team: Experts in Talent, Leadership Offer Advice

Article excerpt

Assembling an ideal management team in a business requires a diversity of leader characteristics, according to several executive coaches and recruiting experts interviewed by The Journal Record.

Just because a person has an MBA from the finest business school does not make him or her capable of serving effectively in a leadership role, said Nancy Parsons, president of CDR Assessment Group Inc.

"There is no 'perfect' team as humans - and leaders - are imperfect," Parsons said.

Each group has to understand what the ideal team profile would be for that organization.

Team leaders need to take charge and be ambitious and driven, said Kim Kaser of Robert Half International. They also need sufficient communication skills, she added, and a mix of players with a strategic and an operational focus.

"Normally you want a mix of personalities," Kaser said. "You want to have a mix of talent as well."

Skills to look for in a leadership team are soft skills such as communication, empathy and integrity, Kaser said.

A leader's influence only matters if people are following, said Steve Laswell, founder and president of Next Level Executive Coaching LLC.

"If people are not following, then I need to check in and get feedback," Laswell said.

Leaders should go back to their results from time to time and refocus, Laswell said. By tapping into their strengths and neutralizing risks that may be impeding their effectiveness, a leader can learn from feedback, Laswell said.

"Leaders have to be teachable and achieve a consistent attitude of reflection," Laswell said. "If I am leading a sales meeting and everyone comes out sad or in the dumps, I have to ask myself, 'What was the message I gave?' If I am the team leader and I want to be cheerleading and get everyone pumped up but the opposite happened, I need to listen and ask others, 'What happened in there?'"

Constant self-analysis is not necessary, Parsons said.

"But it is important for effective leaders to ask for feedback regularly to make sure that they are on track," Parsons said.

Parsons said core competencies that leaders need include:

* Applying ethics and values.

* Leadership and accountability.

* Ability to communicate and inspire.

* Being willing and able to advocate talent.

* Ability to expand relationships.

* Ability to build knowledge.

Parsons said leaders need to aspire to excel at the above competencies and routinely ask themselves questions like:

* Do I demonstrate the ethics and values of the organization to build trust? …