SafeNet Consulting has developed these resources for our clients, prospective clients, consultants, and prospective consultants. The articles and case studies are designed to share our thoughts and perspectives and inspire new ideas. We hope these articles meet your needs and would love to hear what you think. Contact us to share topic suggestions or to let us know how we’re doing.

Get In Touch

How to Build Business Teams that Succeed

Article banner that reads "How to Build Business Teams that Succeed, CIO Andy Dulka Shares His Secrets." On a graphic background that shows Andy's headshot in a circle frame, with the words "Andy Dulka, CIO, Restaurant Technologies" next to it.

How to Build Business Teams that Succeed: CIO Andy Dulka Shares His Secrets

Ask Andy Dulka about what book he recommends for business improvement and team building and he’ll endorse “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. “The book really gives you a gut punch about self-reflection and how to show up for your team,” Andy says. Those words encapsulate his approach to his role, his people and himself.

SafeNet Consulting had the recent pleasure to sit down with Andy for a LinkedIn Live session. His experience in team-building spans posts as CIO for Regis Corporation, Starkey Hearing and currently Restaurant Technologies – an industry-leading manufacturer of safe, automated fry-cooking innovations and oil-management solutions. No slouch of a resumé there!

As you’ll learn in 6 easy steps, Andy’s secrets to team leadership are founded in authenticity, compassion, communication and bravery.

1. Look in the Mirror

“The foundation of all successful teams is trust, and that begins with looking in the mirror to embrace how I will show up as the team leader.” Andy believes it’s a daily practice of knowing your strengths, identifying weaknesses and committing yourself to constant personal and professional development. “I let my team know that I’m also human, and that I’m going to make mistakes. That approach builds emotional safety within the team, which then propels the work.”

2. Set a North Star

Every winning coach in team sport lays down a game plan for the squad, assigns people where their talents lie, and makes the “North Star” toward victory crystal-clear. Effective team leaders in business do the exact same thing. According to Andy, when everyone involved is on a shared and clear path, it not only makes the objectives more achievable, it also makes the journey more fun. However, Andy explains that rather than facing “One Big Game,” business leaders must coach over durations. “The technology roadmap can migrate 2, 3 or 4 years away from older legacy systems to get where we want to be, so the team always has to be ready for what’s coming next.”

3. Communicate with Compassion

The moment you meet Andy Dulka, you realize that he is two things: Calm & Calming. His compassion is genuine, and it’s one of the things that has made him a great leader. Andy insists, “Remember, you are leading people. You must understand where are they in their journeys; what their struggles are both professionally and personally; and how you can bring that all together. The key skill is listening and being available – and they’ll tell you what they need. Remote teams really require this empathy, and if someone on the team isn’t engaged, find out where they are in their journey. Nurture them to deliver. And if it’s not the right fit, find them the place where they bring value, either within your company or perhaps even guiding them to another company.”

4. State of the Union

To ensure compassionate communication, schedule it. Andy produces and distributes “State of the Union” video addresses every other month called “Bits & Bytes” that keep the team current with deep dives about the tasks and technologies to keep everyone aligned with the mission. The other alternate months feature virtual “Town Halls” to highlight team victories and update milestones. Andy believes “Mixing up the formats changes the interactions between in-house and virtual teammates.” Beyond those monthly events, Andy practices a standing open-door policy, so people know he and all of the leadership is available anytime to everyone.

5. Live the Role

Andy advises anyone in a leadership role to be immersed in it and to “Never stop developing yourself. Be agile in the environment. Always understand your place, and that you’re here to set the vision, fight for the resources, provide air cover, and most importantly to coach and inspire your team to face and overcome the challenges.”

6. Take the Leap

When a General yells “Charge!” there’s no turning back. As such, leaders must be brave and make informed team decisions with supreme confidence. If a leadership role is in your path, Andy recommends earning that confidence by embracing opportunities to experience business from different points of view – like from marketing, distribution, manufacturing, etc. This provides a comprehensive view of different team goals and strategies, and enhances a leader’s style and effectiveness.

“Switching roles or even industries brings you back to a blank canvas where you can carry your experience and apply it to something new. It teaches you how to arrange the technological building blocks in different ways to achieve distinct outcomes. It can be a little bit scary, but you’re betting on yourself when you take that leap.”

5929 Baker Rd. Suite 440
Minnetonka, MN 55345
(877) 930-3636

1036 W. Juneau Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(877) 930-3636