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Team Building, Captaining Grow Corporations, Not Superstars Alone

The word ‘team’ is more than just a business buzzword.

If done well, building and captaining a team will determine whether a manager merely survives or instead thrives in this strange new economy

Bruce Piasecki insists  the near future will be all about innovation for sustainable value creation, led by teams.

 “In a world that becomes more complex by the day, ‘command and control’ is out, and employee engagement is in,” says Piasecki, author of the new book Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning

 “The days when a larger-than-life personality is allowed to steamroll over the rest of the company are over. This destroys morale, which destroys results. Teams, not individuals, drive performance, he adds.

“And make no mistake,” he adds. “The best organizations, the ones with real staying power, are fueled by well-run teams.”

 “Teams are more important than ever because the way we work and do business has changed,” Piasecki explains.

 “Within the fierce competition that is the global economy, companies that get fast results because they excel at collaboration and innovation will rise to the top and rule the day.”

Piaseck insists the ideas that allow an organization to achieve, grow, and prosper (as opposed to merely survive) will be created only when teams leverage their combined skills and hold themselves mutually accountable.

No individual, no matter how brilliant, is likely to have the skill set to take projects from start to finish in this fast-paced and complex environment.

“The good news is, companies can shatter this individualistic mindset wherever it occurs and guide employees to a better way to work—while tapping into and maximizing their raw talent,” Piasecki says. “

But first, they must understand that managing teams, with their web of hidden politics and complex interplay of human differences, is very different from managing individuals.”

 Here, Piasecki shares nsights on teams:

Great teams are led by captains: Like many popular terms, the word “leader” has become so overused and commonplace that it has lost all meaning. Anybody can call himself or herself a leader, it seems. Anybody can follow the “dos” and “don’ts” in leadership manuals. But it takes a special type of leader—a captain—to create not just a loose affiliation of individuals but a true team that’s centered around shared values and focused on a common goal.

Fierce individualism has no place in teams: Captains need to be sure that “the MVP syndrome” is not allowed to define their teams and be on the alert for individuals who might be losing sight of the team that gave them an identity—the group with whom they worked to produce the fame for which they are now known. It is in such situations that workplace ills such as favoritism, sexism, and even criminal activity like embezzlement tend to flourish.

Teams hold the bar high for everyone (especially the superstars): In all teams there is an inherent desire to protect our superstars and keep them winning. (Never mind all the others whose quieter, though no less critical, contributions are downplayed.)

Teams have to be willing to lose sometimes or they will eventually self-destruct: When teams keep winning, they can become addicted to victory—feel entitled to it even—and this is what drives them to illicit extremes. The lesson is clear: When we don’t learn to tolerate failure, we will do anything to keep the public adulation coming.

Great teams revel in the pleasure of persistence and the sheer thrill of striving: Knowing that we will stumble and fall from time to time, yet get up and try again with some success, is at the heart of a great team.

  • How to play through pain
  • How to resist the criminal opportunities inherent in becoming an MVP
  • How to keep your feet on the ground despite being a member of special teams with special force
  • How to outlive uncomfortable appointments, such as when your boss has selected you for teams that are a bad fit, and how to behave when you are chosen for teams you do not want to play on

“Life can be a tough slog, and victories are sporadic at best. Maybe we can’t win but we can keep going. This striving brings with it its own unique rewards. It is up to us to learn to appreciate them.”

Successful teams share values, integrity, and a commitment to one another: In preparing for a team event, or in becoming a member of a team, a transformation occurs where team members end their individual associations and create a team identity through sharing with others the experience of that process. Once the team is created, a strong bond is already in place from that preparation, from the obstacles everyone had to overcome to get there.

When joining the military, everyone has a crucible, basic training, which really isn’t basic at all and is usually the hardest experience to get through, Piasecki points out. The crucible is something all members have to overcome to be part of the team. They shave all the soldiers’ heads to take away their individual designations and rebuild them as team members, reshape their identities into a shared identity.

“In complex situations where outcomes are unknown, the temptation is always to play it safe,” Piasecki points out. “But in a world of constantly changing tides, yesterday’s ‘safe’ is likely to be today’s ‘not enough.’
That’s why teams must work on instinct, often at a moment’s notice, and constantly move forward. Effective teams learn by doing and stay focused on results; they are not bound by method or processes. And that gives them the flexibility and resiliency they need to thrive in the midst of flux.”

Effective teams take risks. Because business climates are constantly changing, teams and the captains who lead them know that yesterday’s guidelines can quickly become obsolete. That’s why they don’t allow themselves to be overly bogged down by rule following and order taking.

Rather, they push boundaries when it’s proper (in other words, when ethical and moral lines aren’t being crossed), because the greatest innovations happen beyond existing laws and rules. When led by great captains, teams regularly work beyond normal and limiting boundaries to increase productivity and success.


© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
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