Who Holds the Solution: Is It the Team, Leader, Or Both?

“If the team is under performing, isn’t it always a leadership issue?”

This is the question I was asked recently at a networking event. I had just told the person I was talking to that I work with leaders who want to develop more cohesive, higher functioning teams.

It is a question I get asked quite frequently. And my response, as it always is, was: “It’s not always a leadership issue. The leader does however hold the key to unlocking the solution.” A subtle yet critical distinction – the leader as the solution rather than the problem.


The Leader As A Guide to Moving Teams Towards the Right Direction

The leader, team and culture are driving the current results – whatever those results may be. Achieving different results requires making changes to one or all of these driving factors.

The question becomes: in what ways can the leader, team and culture currently support the necessary changes?

And in what ways must they transform to achieve the desired results?

Answering this question requires assessing the factors that influence (negatively or positively) the changes necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

So, which of the factors below serve as a driving force towards achievement of the desired outcome?

And which represent an opposing force that may create barriers to change?


Questions to Answer Together: Finding What Is Working For and Against Your Team

It is the leader’s job to delve into the questions above.

Answering them is the key to unlocking the solution.

Here is an easy exercise to get started. Pull your team together and post two flip chart pages on the wall. Label one “Driving Forces” and the other “Opposing Forces”. Then go through the list below and place items on the appropriate flip chart page.


Is the leader clear on what he or she wants to accomplish and why? Are team members clear?

Most of all, is each team member/department’s role clear?



Is the team cohesive? Is there a foundation of trust?

Are team members committed to the outcome or desired result and in agreement about how to achieve it? And do they hold each other accountable for achieving the desired results?



What are the strengths that support the desired results and what are the challenges that might prevent achievement of the outcome?

Consider leader and team member strengths/weaknesses, style and skills as well as strengths and weaknesses of the whole organization and culture.



Does the communication process internally and externally support achievement of the desired results? This includes frequency, flow, modalities and message.

In addition, are we communicating internally the way we should to achieve the result? And are we communicating externally with customers, vendors, etc. in a way that supports achievement of the outcome?


Core Convictions

Does the desired outcome align with individual and organizational values, beliefs and expectations? Most of all, do people believe it is important and that it is possible?



Are incentives and disincentives (both financial and non-financial) aligned in a way to lead to behaviors that support achievement of the desired outcome?



How do the current processes, procedures and systems support or get in the way of achieving the desired result?


Therefore, once you can identify the factors that support change and those that may hinder it, the leader and team can then develop a plan for strengthening the driving forces and weakening the opposing forces. As such, only when the driving forces are stronger than the opposing forces will change in the right direction occur.

Find out how I can help get your team in the right direction. Get in touch here for a consultation.


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