Integrity – The Foundation of Highly Effective Teams

Honesty is making our words align with reality. Integrity is making reality align with our words. – Michael Hyatt

The Foundation of Excellence 

This past week, I held an initial team meeting with my freshly hired forward support team. As I thought about the words of welcome and initial priorities I wanted to share with the team, I reflected on the highly successful teams that I have worked with in the past. I looked at the key characteristics of those teams and what made them successful. While there are many examples of great teams, I remembered my supply team while I was a company commander. I had a unique perspective as the commander, I filled the role of the customer while still having intimate knowledge of how the team operated. As I thought on what made the team successful, I realized the leader fostered a strong foundation that facilitated excellence. 



Property Accountability 

For a commander, property accountability is one of the key components of a successful command. Equipment is loaned from multiple organizations and spread across many locations. On deployments, the amount of property can easily increase by a factor of ten creating additional accountability complexities. During that particular deployment, one of those complexities included the retrograde of non-essential equipment in preparation for handing over our base to our Afghan counterparts. To successfully accomplish this, we needed to coordinate with all of the organizations that loaned us equipment. To add to the complexity, we were in a remote location away from their offices. Working with my Executive Officer and First Sergeant, we recognized that positioning our supply team closer to the property offices would be more efficient for the retrograde of equipment. This meant that my property accountability team would not work from the same base where our company was located, presenting a significant risk to our routine property accountability processes. However, I was comfortable taking that risk based on the way my supply team leader had presented himself during our inventories during the change of command and deployment preparations. Based on my trust in his integrity, I knew that placing him in the other location was the best option and I was comfortable knowing that he would not overlook the routine accountability requirements. 

Building the House of Success

The way this particular team operated taught me a lesson on developing highly effective teams. The team leader built his team around a foundation of his personal integrity. Because he maintained his integrity, it allowed the team to trust him and inspired the rest of the team to uphold their own integrity. Their trust in one another allowed them to communicate effectively within the team. This allowed them to speak with a single team voice, espousing integrity as a team and building trust with me, their customer. Because the team as a whole was able to communicate as one, it gave me confidence in them and made them one of the most effective teams with which I have worked. The team leader’s integrity provided a foundation for the team to build a frame of trust that provided a basis for doors of communication. To build your own highly successful team, I encourage you to consider the focuses that allowed my supply team to operate so successfully. 

  • Personal Focus – Foundation of Integrity 
  • Team Internal Focus – Framework of Trust
  • Team External Focus – Doors of Communication 
  • Result – Happy Customer – Highly Successful Team

As an end note, we successfully moved our equipment, transferred our base to the Afghan Army, and returned to the US with no loss of equipment accountability. 

What personal and cultural values do you think are the most important for team success? Are those values consistent with your personal and cultural values? 

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