Great Teams Have Great Depth In These 6 Areas

Aug 16, 2017 3 Min Read

Photo credit: Blue Nozomi | Flickr


Are these your second string players?

Have you ever watched a great team in action? Especially at the end of the game? What I find interesting is that as the game progresses, the “second string” or “bench” becomes more and more important. Down the stretch, you’re likely to see many new players enter from the bench, while the starters sit out. Only with a strong group of players on the bench, can a team consistently win. This is called depth. And every great team has great depth.

This applies to all teams, from sports to business. There’s a lot of teaching on how to develop depth on a basketball team, for example. But how do you develop depth in your work team? Here are the dimensions of depth that every team leader needs to focus on to have a winning season:

1. Relationship depth: Connection

The first question to ask is: Do you all like each other? Team members who like each other are more likely to work together and help each other when the game is on the line. Develop depth in this area by creating connecting moments in which people can get to know and appreciate each other more. And of course, bring in team members who value and seek connection.

2. Diversity depth: Completion

Every team needs a variety of players. A basketball team full of point guards doesn’t win championships. In organisational teams, you need diversity in skills, experience, background, and education. Seek unity in values and vision, but to develop diversity depth, bring in team members who are able and willing to complete each other, rather than merely compete.

3. Servanthood depth: Care

This is more than just getting along. Servanthood is developed and modeled from the leader on down. It’s a humble attitude that isn’t self-seeking. It’s a commitment to serving others first. To develop depth in this area, bring in and train team members who are focused on a win for the entire team, not just themselves or their area. These people are willing to put others first and help each other win.
This might interest you: Can You Serve And Lead At The Same Time?

4. Skill depth: Competence

Can your team members do their jobs with excellence? Do they have the skill sets necessary to create a win? These are the questions a leader asks when attempting to develop skill depth.
Everyone on the team needs to produce at a high level of quality; otherwise, the weakest link will pull everyone down. So bring in and train excellent players to create depth in this area.
Check this out: How Do You Go About Collecting Competencies That Set You Up For Life?

5. Leadership depth: Continuity and clarity

I’m not just talking about people in positions of leadership here. Developing leadership depth means encouraging and allowing leaders to emerge and contribute at every level. In this area, leadership means taking ownership and stepping up to influence others toward the win. 

6. Growth depth: Capacity

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “People are our most appreciable asset”, usually from chief executive officers of large organisations. But I would add one caveat: “… only if the leaders are developing them.”

To create depth in this area, you do need to bring in people with a capacity for growth. But team members don’t “appreciate” or get better unless the leaders are pouring into them. So make sure you’re coaching your people and encouraging them to grow.

This post is an excerpt from what Maxwell taught in his very first live call for the programme, Maximum Impact Mentoring (MIM). He has been providing long-distance mentoring to leaders around the world since 1985. He’s now excited to embrace the most cutting-edge technology by sharing his thoughts and answering questions on a monthly live call and an online community.

For that first call, besides teaching the lesson, “The Rule of 5 for Developing Teams”, he also answered questions from listeners in real time. All MIM members are also able to download the call and learn from his teaching notes after the fact.

This article is also available in Chinese.


Copyright 2014 The John Maxwell Company. Articles accessed via may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from The John Maxwell Company, except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles. Article published with permission.

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John Calvin Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership. Titles include The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His books have sold millions of copies, with many of them on the New York Times Best Seller List.

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