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1. Consider their unique talents.

Your team is made up of individuals with unique talents and passions they may have never shared with you or their team members. By taking a true inventory of your team’s passions and talents and having a deeper understanding of them, you will gain a richer insight into what motivates them and what aspect of their unique talents they may bring to the table. We can’t motivate individuals if we don’t know what is important to them.

As an example, if a team member is highly motivated by fitness you may want to get them to organize an early morning jogging club, or a noon yoga session or even hand out pedometers. How would this help? It might be a tool in showing you care about them as individuals not just as production tools. It might engage them more with other team members. It might help cross departmental conversations.

The most important thing it does is give you a new lens to look through in your efforts to build a winning team. Before you have a winning team you need to have a team. Do your reports feel and work as a team? Do your team members know each other’s key skills? Do they have a culture of helping each other and sharing their skills, insights and knowledge? Are they excited about what they know or can do to help each other?

Do your people know the full range of people they could turn to when they are stuck on a certain problem or need to bounce an idea off of? Would this add to their efficiency or performance on the job?

2. Treat them like the experts you want them to become

Chances are each of your people is particularly good at something, or has a particular area of interest they would be passionate to explore. It could be project management, benchmarking, social marketing, creating good will, customer espionage, graphic design, or almost anything else. Hone in on what they are good at and talk to them as the expert in this area. Encourage them to research and build their skill and knowledge base in their area of expertise, and encourage them to find others that have a similar skill that they can talk about. Linked In has interest groups in hundreds of areas of expertise and it is easy to be introduced to others like them.

Start them on the road to becoming an expert in what they are passionate about and then look for ways to leverage their passion in their work. In short, be more expansive in the way you help them build their craft.

As soon as they start to show promise in a particular area, find ways to showcase them and build their reputation. Look for ways to encourage them to become companywide or industry wide experts. Ask yourself, “Would it be helpful if someone on my team was seen more as an expert in their field”? How would you leverage and build an expert on your team?

3. Build a team of passionate experts.

How long has it been since you spent time thinking of your dream team? Too often we accept what we have rather than thinking of the qualities of a dream team. I am not suggesting firing members and trying to find better replacements. Rather I am suggesting identifying the qualities, skills and experience you would ideally want on your dream team. What is your dream team? And how can you start to develop your team toward these skill sets?

Having a team of passionate recognized experts in your industry or in dealing with a particular customer’s problem will enable better insight, faster innovation, and an easier route into your customer organizations. Can you make your people sought after experts in your industry or in your company?

4. Ask for the moon without defining it.

Have you ever asked your team members “If you had no possibility of failing, and were thus guaranteed of success how would you choose to make a real difference in this company, in the industry, in the world?

The answers you receive might surprise you and give you a whole new growth strategy or product, or give you a new customer satisfaction strategy. People often don’t dream big enough and this might give you a project they could be truly passionate about. Give them the confidence to shoot for the moon in their own way.

5. Fine-tune your “yes” compass.

Passionate activities create a whole new level of possibility, yet most of us are constantly killing enthusiasm and focus by saying “no”.

How do you feel when your idea is turned down or even when you realize yourself that your strategy or idea is wrong?

When a team member comes with an idea do you say “no” or throw up objections – reasons it won’t work, or do you see the task at hand as – what do I need to say yes?

When you say no the recipient will almost certainly get discouraged and be more likely to find reasons not to do the important things. Why? When they’re feeling down, their threshold for handling rejection or complexity tends to be low as well. Their spirits sink, and their performance will, too.

When you or your team hit a challenging cycle, there are two keys to moving forward: staying positive and staying focused on the problem not on a particular solution. At the very time when new ideas should be encouraged we often shut new ideas down. Be open to the ideas of others. Think of it as a conversation, as a real exchange. The answer to not saying no is often two simple things. Create a yes mentality and ask more questions that can be answered now.

To develop your “yes compass” begin with easy things that have nothing to do with work. Pay attention to events and experiences that elicit a “yes” and start small. “Which breakfast food feels more like a ‘yes’? Which pair of shoes? Which television show? Does it feel more like ‘yes’ to read your email right now or work on that writing project?”

Identify which projects and strategies feel like a yes and start your day working on “yes” projects. Now, what would you need to do to make another project feel like a yes?

The answer to not saying no, is often to ask more questions. “If we do that how can we……” or “ what will we do next” are two good ways to acknowledge their proposal and get more thinking on how to make it work.

Your positive attitude about their suggestions is a precious asset. Protect it and use it. Work on getting everyone you can to be proactive about being positive.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that successful people (those who lead great companies, develop great products and fulfill their highest potentials) are idea boosters. They are people that help their teams envision boldly and use all available resources to make the vision better, cleaner, simpler and more feasible. How do they do it? Their method is amazingly simple. The whole idea centers on not trying to do too much. They narrow the complexity of the idea not the final outcome. Rather than aim lower they look for easier routes to the big idea.