It’s the capacity to engage in meaningful conversations that set high-performing teams apart. There are numerous commercial benefits, too, not the least of which are improved decisions, better efficiency, and implementing organizational change more efficiently. Expert in Team Performance Philip Houghton has come up with the top questions that leaders should be asking their team members.
A SUMMARY OF THE QUESTIONS FROM Part 1
The success of today’s businesses requires more than just the brilliance of anyone.
Teams of leaders that are populated with solid individuals don’t create high-quality collaboration. If every individual is delivering according to their individual skills, yet they are doing it effectively, the group isn’t really functioning.
“Synergy” that’s formed between individuals with talent that tap into collective potential is the foundation of effective leadership teams.
Research suggests that 70%1 of executive teams do not have the clarity of what they’re trying to convey to their customers. Effective implementation of strategies remains a significant problem for the majority of CEOs2, and trust is a problem in the majority of teams3.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Do you have the right quality of conversations that can create a positive impact on your company and in the markets?
Do you know the value commercially of its collective thought process or just your own individual ideas?
How can you ensure that your time with each other is transformative instead of only transactional?
You are engaging in high-quality discussions that set top-performing teams apart.
Teams that engage in regular high-quality, well-organized discussions about their strategies their capabilities, behaviors, and strategies have a higher chance of success than those who don’t.
The responsibility of leaders is to be able to ask and answer the appropriate questions.
As we’ve discussed in the first part of “Team Leadership Do Your Leaders Really communicate? The role of leadership is to inquire as well as answer questions regarding strategy and the purpose of their team. In Part 2, we’ll look at the discussions about the capabilities leaders should employ to ensure that their teams are performing at the highest level.
CONVERSATIONS AROUND CAPABILITY
“What capabilities are required for us to carry out our strategy?” Any discussion on the strategy, work practices, and resources must also include an open discussion about the capabilities of each individual and team. Yet the majority of teams do not even think about these issues and even introduce an element of objectivity to the discussion. Insularity that is triggered due to the lack of self-evaluation, as well as internal conflict, is often at the root of team inefficiency. Even with the spotlight on critical strategic abilities, the management and leadership teams seldom receive adequate focused, targeted, and technological improvement. While it is the manager’s obligation to recruit the appropriate kind of and high-quality people into their team, the capability of teams to later determine and fill in essential capabilities gaps, as circumstances change, is vital in ensuring the effective execution of strategy.
“Do we have enough diversity within our team?” A lot of leaders recruit according to their personal image, rather than looking for diversities. A lot of teams place emphasis on acknowledging their differences and even actively talking about their divergences. These approaches hinder the possibility of synergy. Although it’s a significant task for senior teams to make use of their different perspectives, the benefits are more significant when they succeed. The diversity of thinking styles, experiences, and perspectives could result in more competitive strategies, products, services, and corporate cultures. In the real world, teams should be aware of whether they possess a balanced mix of styles such as “drivers” (to drive for outcomes) as well as more prudent thinking people (to take on the role of “devil’s advocate”) and creative problem solvers (to assist with unexpected problems) as well as meticulous planners (to adapt the operational requirements) and relationships-building (to assist in managing the various stakeholders). A diverse group working together will not only result in a well-balanced business but one that also offers possibilities.
“Are we on the cutting-edge in thinking?” Teams that are successful have an elevated level of tactical and strategic awareness that allows them to constantly rethink their approach and the way they think. This kind of self-examination allows teams to decide if it’s the best time to invest in a new venture or to withdraw from markets that are declining or keep their current method. Teams that are too solitary and self-absorbed are unable to spot risks, challenge the status quo, or evaluate themselves on the basis of industry best practices. Lack of current commercial awareness may also lead to teams not being aware of the actions that drive results and can lead to a gradual but steady decline in performance.
The Case Study: A renowned brand FMCG firm was confronted with growing competition in their primary markets, which resulted in constant price pressure and an inevitable decrease in profits. With new products coming away, they had to figure out ways to increase the profits of their existing business while gaining more efficiency out of their business. After a series of off-site meetings to establish strategies, the executive team decided to go with an approach to customer intimacy that involved them working closely with selected retailers. The main focus of the strategy was to boost the brand’s equity and price and share any margin improvement with their distributors of choice. The success of the strategy required a solid relationship and marketing strategy and a capability to create a fresh, economic model based on marketing that was designed to be a benefit for their business. The short-term results were good, with most major retailers backing the new approach. Numerous category-focused marketing campaigns were designed and launched, using an array of in-store and multi-media campaigns as well as rebranded products that sold well at price increases. However, margins didn’t rise and, in some cases, were even worse. Six months into the strategy, the CEO began to become worried about the financial performance of the company and gathered the team for a comprehensive review. The discussions revealed a variety of unanticipated issues. First, the company was not meeting its goals for efficiency – important initiatives to cut costs were running behind. In addition, sales and marketing were not working well together, which resulted in inconsistent communications with customers. Thirdly, some of the significant customers were not embracing the new strategy in any way. After intense, heated debate on the causes behind these issues, the CEO, in a moment of silence – realized that he’d been asking a traditionally “operations-oriented management team to implement a critical change program. Despite their enthusiasm, passion, and commitment, the team had not yet identified whether they had the capability to achieve.
Part 3 will address the importance of conversations regarding behavior and how leaders can foster an environment for high performance.
1. Kaplan & Norton: Having Problems with Your Strategy? then map it? (2004)
2. Monitor Research Analysis: Survey of more than 300 senior executives across all sectors of industry (2006)
3. McKinsey The Top Teams The Top (2004)