“If a leader preaches risk-taking but never fails himself, or never admits it, then consequently the team will take few gambles.” — Adrian Gostick
In their new book, “The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance,” co-authors and corporate culture experts Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton share the results of their research into effective team leadership and high-performing teams. Based on 850,000 employee surveys and 50,000 motivation assessments, their data reveals the science behind effective team leadership distilled down into five disciplines. They successfully deliver an inspired approach to managing people that will work for any business.
What Gostick and Elton found defies much conventional wisdom about teams; in fact, the best leaders are breaking some of the established rules of running a workgroup. Their five disciplines of effective team leadership are:
- understanding the many generations in the workplace
- never forgetting the customer
- managing “to the one”
- speeding up the process of bringing a new team member on board with a focus on productivity
- seeking out and embrace the critics and trouble-shooters on the team – making ‘Challenge Everything’ your new mantra
Just paying regular attention to something makes magical things happen
Employees who meet with managers weekly to discuss progress toward goals are 24 percent more likely to achieve their goals.”
Scheduling time for regular reviews, acknowledgements and mentoring. They say effective managers spend on average one hour per week recognizing the accomplishments of their team. Moreover, if you ever worry that you are showering too much attention on one employee and leaving others out? They do not recommend tempering your praise because the under-appreciated employee may decide to go, leaving you stuck with the employee that doesn’t stand out.
Try this. A boss asked everyone on his team to email him a story about some other employee who helped them. He also requested that they copy the other employee on the email. As you can imagine, he received an incredibly positive response to this practice. Who would not appreciate this type of attention?
Managing to the One
Conventional wisdom has long been that all members of a team are equal, and everyone should be treated the same because that assures fair management. That is old school thinking.
You would be hard-pressed today to find a business person who does not recognize the gold standard for consumer products and services — personalization. Well, it is time to realize that personalization is fast becoming the gold standard for managing people. Employees want to have an authentic, individual relationship with their manager. They want and deserve, to be treated as distinct individuals with unique motivators.
Today’s best team leaders Manage the One, which primarily manifests in the process of career development. The good news is career development one of the few things a team leader does control. Every team leader can more closely manage their people on the career side— explicitly sculpting jobs to give people a little more of what motivates them and less of what frustrates them.
Allowing employees to do a more of what they like, and where their strengths lie, and less of what irritates them is excellent advice.
Can you imagine how empowering and uplifting it would be to get permission to sculpt your job? It is aligned with our approach using the science of SuccessFinder. High performers in a given area share common set traits and preferences. We identify your strong behavioral traits and your career preferences and show you where you will find career success.
We go further, we identify the behavioral competencies that you need to develop for a given role. Our clients are calling our Ladder of Leadership a real game changer.
Onboarding – Getting Up to Speed
Getting new employees oriented as quickly as possible and allowing them to make a difference from the start is right for the employee and the organization. Contact with their manager on the first day is imperative. It gets the relationship off to a good start. Mentoring and shadowing allow the new person to get a feel for the culture and helps to provide valuable context. Moreover, do not forget the regular check-in meetings!
This becomes a whole lot easier if you used our analytics when hiring the person. We predict the likelihood of them exceeding expectations. We identify the area where your new hire’s behavioral traits do not match those of high performers in the role. They develop strategies to manage these areas, so their exact strengths shine through and become one of your stars.
Having a trouble-shooter on a team is a good thing. Leaders should want team members who are unafraid to ask questions or throw out ideas. Teammates who question everything does not threaten a team leader who is secure.
All about the Customer
All organizations exist to increase shareholder value. There are two necessary conditions: satisfied customers and engaged employees. Creating cross-functional teams designed to do “micro battles” ensures all perspectives are covered. You need customer advocates. These are customer-focused initiatives improve results for specific problems or issues. Create a company’s SWAT team who swoops in when needed to make things right for the customer.
Harmony is Overrated
When Gostick and Elton pose the question to groups of leaders what’s better—a team that’s almost always harmonious or one that has conflicts and arguments—the clear majority vote for a team with no disharmony. It seems most of us believe that great teams always get along. The best teams disagree a lot. The most effective and innovative teams have regular, intense debates, which was fun for us to observe. The ability to disagree, without causing offense, is essential to robust communication and problem-solving within teams. People want the opportunity to challenge each other. If discussions are respectful, and everyone gets the chance to contribute equally, most people thrive on this kind of debate—finding it not only intellectually stimulating but essential to understanding to the route of problems and working out solutions. Moreover, teams feel more bonded and more overall more effective when they regularly engage in challenging discussions when members are encouraged to debate with one another’s ideas and perspectives.
People will hear us yelling in a room and looking like we are gonna throw s#@$ at each other, but that is because it is a part of our DNA that we debate everything.” - Neil Parikh, Casper’s cofounders
Failure is not Fatal
It has been long held that a hallmark of a great team is that it wins; but today’s best leaders understand that if their teams are not experiencing smart failures along the way, they are not being creative enough or taking enough risks. This does not mean members are not held accountable for being judicious, but managers are creating latitude when their people are bold. The key is that they focus risks on making a customer experience better, and the team must rigorously learn from each misstep.
A terrific practice of many of the leaders is modeling the behavior of failing for their teams. Makes sense: If a leader preaches risk-taking but never fails himself, or never admits it, then consequently the team will take few gambles themselves.
Another best practice: Many leaders are publicly rewarding people who take a risk and fail— as much as they do successes. The CEO of Indian conglomerate Tata has a program in which the awards the year’s best attempts with the Dare to Try Award. It is presented to the company’s most thoughtful and well-executed failures. When he first launched the program, few teams entered. However, when everyone saw the winners get congratulated on stage by the CEO, within three years, 132 groups had submitted for the prize.
Effective Team Leadership Make a Difference
There’s been a movement in recent years to flatten organizations. We went through a period where many teams were leaderless, or if they had a leader that person was instructed to be a coach, not a manager—exerting little authority. Unfortunately, getting rid of the hierarchy has not worked that well. In the best new teams, Gostick and Elton found effective team leadership alive and well. Teams still need the accountability a manager provides, as well as the direction and guidance. What they have seen help, however, is a reduction in power distance. The less dominating power exerted by a manager, the more inclusiveness she creates, and the more group members are willing to participate and generate ideas.
What Gostick and Elton did find is that the best team managers are employing practices that inspire their people to speak up and be bolder in sharing ideas and engaging in more avid debate. One of the practices is to schedule discussions and lead them. In these environments, members feel comfortable offering one another proactive feedback, speaking up even when their advice has not been asked for. One sure sign of a healthy team is that employees provide each other tough-to-hear feedback, instead of offloading all problems to the boss and hoping they trickle down.
Knowing behavioral strengths and your team member’s passions enable you to customize their role. Not only will this provide them with career satisfaction, but it will also create an entirely engaged employee who delivers breakthrough results. Our powerful talent analytics will provide you with remarkable insights about you and your team members. We determine which of your 85 behavioral traits are strengths and which ones are challenges. We help you with effective team leadership and create high performing teams.
Photo - Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
In the paper we share the competencies that are:
- Always On: Only two behaviors from manager to C-Suite
- Leap: “Bridging” behaviors for moving between each management level
- Lead: Unique behaviors for every stage of management
- Leave Behinds: The “once and done” list— good only for where you are, not where you’re going