Actions, Not Titles or Words, Make Leaders

Great leaders build great performance by  inspiring each team member to perform their best and helping provide the tools and training to help each team member’s best be better every day.

The ability to recruit great teams is a valuable asset.  In an age where businesses and business leaders often tout the value of teamwork, however, many businesses inadvertently undermine their most effective team players and the teamwork they claim to desire by failing to properly measure and reward team players and their teamwork.

Employers and other business leaders looking to maximize performance frequently overly-rely upon personally assigned or claimed performance credit, without making provision for measuring or rewarding teamwork.

The most meaningful  measure of leadership, though, is how well a leader coaches, inspires and credits the least talented team member to extraordinary performance while keeping star players motivated and focused on the team.   Arriving at a performance measurement and reward program that appropriately rewards leaders and team members for teamwork, while at the same time encouraging the highest individual performance within the team requires that employers reevaluate performance and its measurement both in terms of the individual contributions of members of the team, and their interaction and support for others on the team.

If your organization truly considers teamwork valuable, your performance management measures and resulting performance management and rewards must identify and reward team contributors and the team appropriately.

Developing and communicating these measures and rewards requires management clearly understand, communicate, measure and reward both the desired performances of the team and the respective roles and responsibilities of the individuals on the team.  Where management views teamwork as valuable, performance measurement and associated rewards should measure the expected teamwork, as well as team performance.  Concurrently, however, management also needs to continue to appropriately monitor, measure and reward individual performance within the team.  The focus on team performance should both incorporate appropriate individual performance measures and rewards to encourage and reward superior individual performance for, but not at the expense of, the team that elevates the team to its ultimate potential.  At the same time, management also will want to use individual measures to identify and incentivize or weed out underperforming team members, whose lacking performance otherwise undermines the team and its overall performance.

Amid all of these activities, management should keep  both team and individual performance measurements and rewards each offer their own opportunities for gamesmanship and abuse. At minimum, all performance and reward systems should be designed and administered for defensibility under wage and hour, employment discrimination, safety, tax, benefit, whistleblower and other federal and state laws as well as other potential operational misuse and manipulation inconsistent with the goals of the business and its operations.

To best promote the desired performances and minimize potential contractual or other legal or operational risks, management should carefully document and communicate its expectations, performance measures and rewards for clarity and defensibility, while reserving appropriate discretion to interpret, administer and where necessary, modify these expectations, measures and rewards in response to ongoing business needs and goals.

Once established, to promote optimal performance with minimum legal and operational risk, management should use care to administer their programs consistent with announced terms until it notifies the team of changes when and if business needs change.

At the end of the day, teamwork and individual performance ideally should combine synergistically where each person’s presence and performance on the team matters, regardless of how great or small.

Struggling to help your leaders and their team members understand the concept?  Don’t overlook the opportunity to draw from inspirational examples in sports such as the one captured here.

About The Author

Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: Erisa & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for work, teachings and publications.

Ms. Stamer works with businesses and their management, employee benefit plans, governments and other organizations deal with all aspects of human resources and workforce, internal controls and regulatory compliance, change management and other performance and operations management and compliance. She supports her clients both on a real-time, “on demand” basis and with longer term basis to deal with daily performance management and operations, emerging crises, strategic planning, process improvement and change management, investigations, defending litigation, audits, investigations or other enforcement challenges, government affairs and public policy.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her thought leadership, experience and advocacy on these and other concerns by her service in the leadership of a broad range of other professional and civic organization including her involvement as the Vice Chair of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Association; Executive Director of the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy and its PROJECT COPE: Coalition on Patient Empowerment; former Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children; former Gulf Coast TEGE Council Exempt Organization Coordinator; a founding Board Member and past President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence; former board member and Vice President of the Managed Care Association; past Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; a member and advisor to the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy; current Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee; current Vice Chair of Policy for the Life Sciences Committee of the ABA International Section; Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section; a current Defined Contribution Plan Committee Co-Chair, former Group Chair and Co-Chair of the ABA RPTE Section Employee Benefits Group; immediate past RPTE Representative to ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative and current RPTE Representative to the ABA Health Law Coordinating Council; past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee; a former member of the Board of Directors, Treasurer, Member and Continuing Education Chair of the Southwest Benefits Association and others.

Ms. Stamer also is a highly popular lecturer, symposia chair and author, who publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry, human resources, employment, employee benefits, compensation, and other regulatory and operational risk management. Examples of her many highly regarded publications on these matters include the “Texas Payday Law” Chapter of Texas Employment Law, as well as thousands of other publications, programs and workshops these and other concerns for the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA, American Health Lawyers, Society of Human Resources Professionals, the Southwest Benefits Association, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, Lexis-Nexis, Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA),, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, the HCCA, ISSA, HIMSS, Modern Healthcare, Managed Healthcare, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society of CPAs, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other symposia and publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA,, Employee Benefit News, and many other prominent publications and speaks and conducts training for a broad range of professional organizations and for clients on the Advisory Boards of,, Employee Benefit News, and many other publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, see or contact Ms. Stamer via email here or via telephone to (469) 767-8872.

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