The HOT Plan™: The surprising key to great team leaders


A boss, a captain, a coach or a taskmaster? Which word best describes the team leaders you are looking for?

Getting people to work together isn’t easy, and leadership often goes to the person with the most machismo, the one who steps up and takes charge. But the key attribute for great team leaders might surprise you. Being a great team leader has less to do with machismo and more to do with an attitude.

Great team leaders live by this creed: No one can do it alone; only the team can succeed, and only the team can fail.

According to Katzenbach and Smith in their classic book, The Wisdom of Teams, good team leaders clarify goals, cheer lead, build confidence,  and challenge. But great team leaders believe in the team.

Guidelines for Choosing Great Team Leaders

  1. Great Team Leaders believe in teams and approach problem-solving in terms of team-think. This is a skill that can be cultivated.  If you have a potential leader who is more of an individualist, place them on several teams and cultivate their vision for teamwork.
  2. Team leaders must be good listeners and have previous leadership experience in the company.
    HOT team leaders must facilitate well, but they also need to see the bigger picture of the company and have a proven ability to think outside of their own niche.  Keep in mind that great team members today make great team leaders tomorrow because team members acquire a bigger picture of the company simply by serving on a HOT team. In this way, HOT teams not only fill a purpose but also help train key employees for further leadership.
  3. A team leader should be someone who can receive and learn from the ideas of others.
    Leaders must embrace the vision of developing others, not just focusing on their own advancement. To do this, leaders must practice stepping back and allowing others to take the lead. Teams are all about using collaboration to achieve HOT goals.
  4. Place a member of your executive team on each team, but do not make them the leader of the team.
    We haven’t always placed an executive member on each team, but it is a good idea when possible. An executive team member has the potential to bring a broader perspective to the team and help keep the team’s vision in focus. They also bring the team’s unique insights back to the executive team. Of course, all HOT teams should send minutes of their meetings to the executive team, but written minutes can’t capture the nuances of discussion and team dynamics.

The one who leads a team obviously plays a powerful role in ensuring its success. But Team Leader is not a position for the person on your staff that is driven by their ego.  Team leadership belongs to those who believe in each member of their team.

For more information about ways to build team-leadership thinking, pick up a copy of my new book, The HOT Plan, available here in eBook, softcover, and color hardback versions. For special bulk pricing (10 or more books), please visit Follow us on Twitter (@thehotplan) and Facebook, or visit for more details about The HOT Plan.

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