We’ve all been there. The well intentioned get together with a group who aspires to do better. It could be in starting a new project with work colleagues or a volunteer organization getting ready for a new year, whatever the setting the experience is familiar—an earnest trainer brought in to lead the group on setting  and achieving goals. Hopes are high and by the first coffee break the majority of attendees are starting to feel, “this is never going to work.” Sound familiar? It should as research consistently shows that most teams underperform.

Why do we keep thinking this time will be different? Hope springs eternal and the truth is that it is easier to believe it will work rather than to address the foundational issues that create inefficiencies. You can train, team build and retreat forever and not see the results you desire until each participant is ready to lead themselves and then engage others from this fruitful space.

Choosing to lead is the only way to ensure success—for the individual and the group.

Put another way, are you going to be able to create a healthy, delicious meal if you use ingredients that are tired, stale or don’t belong in the recipes? Of course not! If you want to serve a successful meal you find the best and right ingredients, make sure that they are fresh and you treat them well during the preparation so that they retain the taste (value) they bring to the meal.  You would be upset if you showed up at your favorite restaurant and were served a sub-par meal prepared in a haphazard way with sad ingredients—so why are you willing to serve your customers products created by people who are not at their best?

If you don’t have healthy, aligned, engaged individuals functioning in your workplace—then nothing will be at its best. It can’t be because you don’t have the right ingredients.

If you want to see improvements in your organization then the first step is to align individuals with their power to lead.  Most people feel the call to something better. They understand that they have more to offer yet they are stymied by dysfunctional teams, vague goals, stifling work roles and misaligned assignments. The key to moving forward is by encouraging people to lead, that is, knowing who they are and bringing the best of themselves forward to reach goals.

Too many people feel hemmed in by their employers and at their mercy for financial security. The result is that despite organizational leaders saying they want greater performance from line employees, they too are stuck in an endless battle of trying to deliver to others what they think they want rather than authentically knowing who they are, what they have to offer and operating from this position of power. What exists within the top leadership is what will be for the balance of the organization.

Organizational leaders who want to be on the leading edge of success recognize that they must make the choice to lead. In deepening the connection to their leadership they automatically begin to inspire leadership in those around them. It starts with individuals improving their leadership and builds a culture that supports this lifelong pursuit.

Which means if you want your team building investment to reap concrete rewards—start by investing in your ingredients. Choosing to lead inspires others to do the same and creates leading organizations.