The Self propelling Team Leadership Flywheel

April 25, 2018

What's involved in leading a team successfully? What is your role as the leader and what are you supposed to be doing to help the team succeed? How do you create self sustaining momentum that continues to move your team forward?

The Self propelling Team Leadership Flywheel is a simple model for team leaders to create self-sustaining momentum in their team and produce high performance results. In this model we've identified five building blocks for successful team leadership. These building blocks focus on what team members need in order to be high performers with a high level of autonomy. 

When well executed, team members will self-direct and self-organize as much as possible, letting the team leader concentrate on inspiring, problem solving and coaching to continuously feed the team's momentum, rather than fire fighting or micro managing a team (that feels more like dragging a dead horse up a hill.) 

This model simplifies the role of a team leader while maximizing team performance. The objective is lazy leadership - one that allows a team to be it is self-sustaining. This model can fit any leader, but especially professional leaders: leaders who still want to contribute on a professional level, with architecting, coding, designing, researching, writing, selling or whatever their goalsmay be.

The five building blocks of the self propelling team leadership flywheel are: Motivation, Direction, Capability, Coordination and Feedback.




Everything starts with motivation. We wouldn't get out of bed without it. This is the why question. Why do we do what we do? What are our goals and purpose? What drives us? Are we all aligned? Do we all want to accomplish the same things?

Working with a team with little motivation is a constant battle. You want team members to connect with the purpose and goals in order to self-motivate as much as possible. Goals can be externally driven, such as satisfying customer needs, as well as more internally driven, like improving personal productivity.

The role of the leader is to help the team aim at the right target and get team members on board with the mission.


The next question is: what do we need to do to achieve our goals? It is our to-do list. What activities generate the results we want? Not every activity contributes the same degree of progress towards achieving our goals, so deciding what to focus on is essential. We need to generate ideas for all of the possible activities needed to reach the goal, and then prioritize to focus on the activities we believe will be most impactful.

The role of the team leader is to facilitate idea generation and then help prioritize the ideas so everyone knows what to work on first.


Next, we need the knowledge and skills to get our to-do list done. We need to specify how we're going to go about it. We need the right approach, specifications, requirements, how-to's, best practices, processes, tutorials, templates and so forth.

The role of the team leader here is to help specify the work so that everyone is on the same page of what the specific outcome is and how to make it happen.


Once we know why, what and how, we decide who will do what when. We estimate the work involved, assign the work and set due dates. Coordination is ongoing as we track progress, overcome obstacles and adjust our plan.

The role of the team leader is to ensure everyone knows who does what by when and offer the tools to continuously track progress. The team leader keeps a close eye on progress, helps overcome obstacles, further clarifies work and adjusts the planning as needed.


We want to know how we are doing. Are we achieving our goal? Are we improving? Are we moving fast enough? Are these the right activities? Is this the right approach? What can I do better?

The role of the team leader is to review the work and encourage team members to self-review and identify improvement opportunities.

Depending on the type of work and team, the emphasis may vary. If the work is recurring and the organization is established, like a call center or health clinic, the emphasis may be on team capability and most of the time is spent on defining how work should be done. If the work is project driven, such as a promotion campaign or product development, coordination is important. If the organization is new or changing, significant time may be spent on motivation and direction. If you want to build high performance momentum in your team, work on putting these 5 building blocks in place.

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