I had a great couple of days recently. I went to the Hot House Summer Gala weekend which is run by the Hot House Music School my son goes to. There was real musical talent on show, but I also saw some fantastic examples of a few of the elements that I think help to build a great team. 
Supportive environment and mentoring 
Students start at the music school from junior age and frequently stay until they head off to university – many to study music and become professional musicians. The older and more experienced musicians are expected to help the younger, less experienced students. They act as role models and mentors. They willingly provide help, advice, guidance and support to those who need it. 
For the Gala weekend there were also two guest bands. Some of the guest students joined the Hot House bands and were integrated with just two short rehearsals. 
• How supportive are your team members with each other? 
• Do you encourage a culture of mentoring in your teams? 
• How effectively do you integrate new members into an existing team? 
Skills development and progression 
The school runs many different styles of bands which cater for all levels of ability. Everyone is encouraged and supported to progress. The musicians develop their skills individually in their music lessons outside the bands. They then come together to practice and improve as a whole team. As the students develop they are invited to progress into more senior bands which require a greater level of ability. 
• Do your team members have individual development plans to build their skills? 
• Do you bring your members together to improve how they work as a team? 
• How do you encourage your team members to progress? 
Stretch and confidence-building 
Band members are encouraged to go outside their comfort zones. From an early stage they are picked to do solos without warning, and their improvisation skills are developed. As well as playing their instruments, students are encouraged to sing and dance which they may be uncomfortable at first. Ultimately, this builds a great level of confidence in the young people. 
• Do you give your team members opportunities to stretch themselves? 
• Do you help them to build confidence in what they do? 
• Do you encourage your team to improvise and innovate? 
A key aspect that clearly stands out to me is the enjoyment that comes across from the students in the bands. If things don’t quite go to plan, solos go slightly wrong, the saxophone squeaks a bit, it’s all taken in a light-hearted way. There’s no blame. Lessons are learnt, there’s a bit of banter, and everyone moves on. 
• Do people enjoy being a member of your team? 
• Does your team have a ‘no blame’ culture? 
• How do you learn lessons and share experiences in your team? 
Teams need leaders who inspire them to achieve and are enthusiastic about what they do. They must create an environment in which their team members are motivated to perform at their best. The leaders of Hot House (Jon and Stu) are exemplars of this. They ‘walk the talk’ and between them seem to be able to play almost any instrument available. Their enthusiasm is infectious and this rubs off on the students. The level of engagement is fantastic to see. 
• Are you an inspiring leader? 
• What example do you set to your team? 
• How do you create an environment to motivate your team to perform at their best? 
So, in summary, if you’re leading a team, think about how you can 
• create a supportive environment and encourage mentoring 
• develop the skills of your team members and help them progress 
• stretch your team members and build their confidence 
• create an environment where your team enjoys what it’s doing 
• demonstrate inspirational and enthusiastic leadership. 
Seeing how my son has developed, from both a self-confidence and musical ability perspective since joining the Hot House team about five years ago has been fantastic. 
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