Leaders are often categorized as being results oriented or people oriented. Great leaders excel at both. They have the ability to connect with people and mobilize them to action that delivers exceptional business results.
The extraordinary way in which great leaders work together is what allows aligned, cohesive, and seamless teams to emerge. A high performance team requires a great leaders. These teams are distinguished from business-as-usual groups by their behavior, attitude, and results.
Let’s work with an accurate description of teams versus groups. Business-as-usual groups are not really teams at all; they are “bands of individuals” because they lack the solidarity, camaraderie, and cohesion of high performance teams. In traditional groups, members deny they have blind spots and cover up their mistakes in an effort to look good and be right. Group members lack trust and respect for one another and are often divisive and adversarial. Many business-as-usual groups appear polite and affable, but this is a pretense that masks unresolved bitterness between individuals. One manager described her “polite group” as follows: “No one drives the debate or pushes issues forcefully enough, and we don’t give each other the real, hard feedback. I’m exhausted at the end of each long meeting.”
What cannot be addressed, cannot be resolved.
Unresolved issues sap everyone’s energy.
Business-as-usual groups are indirect, underhanded, and conspire against each other and the organization. Although this may sound harsh, it is an accurate description of how traditional groups behave. This is not malicious behavior; it is automatic behavior.
Often people are unaware of their impact on others. And even those people who are aware often lack the skill set to address unproductive behavior in a productive way.
A pivotal difference between high performance teams and business-as-usual groups is that high performance teams identify, confront, and overcome blind spots. By having a method for talking about blind spots and building committed partnerships, these teams quickly resolve issues and keep the team performing at an optimal level.
Here is what characterizes high performance teams:
Team members openly coach each other on blind spots and quickly correct unproductive behavior and resolve issues.
Each member takes personal accountability for his or her impact on others.
Team members collaborate with all other members to achieve strategic business objectives.
Each member checks his or her ego at the door and sets aside personal agendas to achieve a greater mission—that of enterprise success.
Each member commits to the success of all others and eliminates blame and silos.
Team members hold each other accountable for high standards of behavior.
Do you take a stand and act decisively even when it is uncomfortable? Taking a stand requires you to go against the common advice of “blend in, don’t stand out, and let others put themselves on the line.”
Fearless leaders have the courage to take a stand even when there is no agreement or support from others. One stand you must take in leading others is to define uniform behavioral standards and teach people how to work together in committed partnerships. You will learn more about this in detail in Chapter 5.
Great leaders instill passion by building committed partnerships with employees, customers, communities, and other key stakeholders. The attitude of the entire organization shifts as a positive and constructive environment is created. People make the personal choice to be great leaders not because they have to but because they want to. They are exhilarated when they discover they have the power to influence and shape the future.
Victim and entitlement mentality is replaced by ownership, and people speak up and take accountability for enterprise results. There is an endless buzz of greatness that motivates people to do more than they believed was possible. It takes only one leader to confront resignation and transform others.
In a business-as-usual environment, you will hear, “I’m burdened, I’m pressured, I have too much to do and not enough time,” and “If others would get their act together, I could do my job.” This attitude adds a heaviness and weight to the organization and stifles leaders who are committed to aggressive goals. In a business-as-usual culture, complacency prevails, and everything is dragged down by a pessimistic view of circumstances and people.
Great leaders produce exceptional results by interrupting the cycle of automatic and unproductive behavior. They end suspicion, turf wars, and victim mentality and do not allow leaders to work in isolation. They build an organization where performance, innovation, productivity, and employee engagement soar.
It takes only one leader to start the process and build a high performance organization. Do not wait for things to happen; make things happen. Your courage to transform the leadership body, then the organization, will inspired everyone to learn and grow.
Great leaders create a powerful context for change and unleash people’s courage. They create an environment in which people take 100% accountability for business results and their impact on others. In this uncommon atmosphere, people work together as committed partners and stand for the success of each other. They coach each other on blind spots, turn automatic behavior into extraordinary behavior, and rapidly resolve challenges.