Monthly Archives: March 2011

From Group to Team

 |  Leadership

In the last two posts I’ve focused on planning season and what it takes to successfully drive business from Point A to Point B. Another responsibility of leaders is to keep people moving from being a Group to being a Team. How are you handling this part of your job today? How are you planning for this as you look ahead to FY12?

Leaders who are “team-builders” are looking out for the bottom line. Competition for talent has never been higher. Many of our clients are experiencing this situation. Taking time to develop individual and collective capacity doesn’t just increase engagement and performance; it increases retention, which reduces expenses for the company.

So as you’re planning for FY12, what will you do to ensure your people continue to move from acting like a group to performing like a highly-effective team? Arie de Gues, author of The Living Company (Great book. Read it!), says that our job as leaders is to “create the conditions in which people will voluntarily give their best.”

Here’s a checklist to help you ensure that you are creating the conditions that are always moving your people from group to team:

• Does your team have clarity and alignment of what you are trying to achieve and why?
• Does your team understand and accept your strategy and execution plan to achieve your objective?
• Does your team understand and accept their individual roles and responsibilities?
• Does your team have the structure, systems, and process you need?
• Does your team have the appropriate level of resources?
• Does your team have a culture, working relationship, and way of communicating that supports your efforts?
• Does your team have a positive example of leadership to model?
• Does your team have the aptitude (knowledge and skill) to successfully execute your strategy?
• Does your team have the attitude (motivation and behavior) to engage and perform at a high level?
• Does your team have the opportunity to learn?
• Do you have succession planning in place to cover contingencies?

One of your jobs as a leader is to ensure that you and your team always answer the above questions in the affirmative. If your FY12 plan does include or address these questions in some way, you’re starting out at a disadvantage. You may come up with the most amazing strategy in the history of the world. And culture eats strategy for breakfast. Every. Day.

Do yourself a favor. Do your team a favor. Do your company’s bottom line a favor. As you plan for FY12, plan for how you will develop your people and move them from working as a group to performing as a team.

Planning To Do and “To Don’t”

 |  Leadership

In my last post , I wrote about how we can approach planning in a way that allows for greater reflection, collaboration, and dialogue that invites creativity and innovation to the process. I know many teams that have become quite good at slowing themselves down in order to move more quickly once they are aligned.

What they, and the rest of us need to be mindful of as we plan is how much we are piling on our plates.
The planning process usually results in new “to-dos” being added to our already full lists. It’s now like we need more to do; we need to get smarter about how we spend our time, energy, and resources. Strategic planning is supposed to help us with this. What’s going on?

We aren’t in control of our diaries, calendars, and lives. That’s what’s going on! Almost every leader I’ve ever worked with spends AT LEAST 25% of their time doing the work of someone one or two levels below them. As you flash to your calendar right now, you know I’m right. Don’t try to deny it. Only you know why you do it. Reasons may include an inability to say “no”, a need to control things, a need to be seen as the one who gets s#!+ done.

We’re not going to have a deep therapy session right now to sort it out. We’re going to do some spring-cleaning. Look at your calendar for the next two weeks. How does each scheduled event support your strategic objectives? Do you really need to be at all the meetings or events in there? Who owns the process and outcome for each event? To whom could you delegate some of these tasks?

It’s time to give some stuff away. I challenge you to give away or simply cancel 20% of the meetings you have scheduled. As we add to our “to-do” lists, we need “to-don’t” lists. What are the things we are going to stop doing in order to be more successful in the new year? This question is extremely important and almost never asked during the planning process. Become the exception. Make sure that you and your team ask this important question. With the space and time you give yourself and your team, you may find that you have some room to slow down, think more strategically, and collaborate to devise a creative and innovative plan for the next year. Do some spring-cleaning.

Planning Season Approaches

 |  Leadership

It’s planning season for many organizations. How can you ensure that you aren’t missing anything as you build your plans for FY12?

We are reminding our clients that as they work to decide what they will do to drive the business from A to B, they also want to consider how they will drive for business results; that is, how they will continue their building their collective capacity and move from being groups to being high performing teams. We also want them to consider what they will do to develop their individual capacity to lead with more discipline and intention (from default to design).

When we take the time to consider the organization, the team, and the individuals who make up our teams, we are taking a more systemic approach. Widening our focus as we plan for the future forces us to allow more time for reflection and dialogue before we jump into execute mode. Where do we want the organization to be a year from now? Where do we want our team to be? Where do I want to be (in terms of my leadership development and my career)?

As we consider what success looks like a year out for the organization, the team, and ourselves, we create context for evaluating where we are now; we can attend to our current reality with an eye toward the future. With Points A and B defined, we can look for the optimal way forward instead of hastily locking in on what may be the obvious way forward. They may be one and the same; many times they are not. Creating the time and space for real reflection and dialogue enables us to build plans that address the business, the team, and individuals and raise the likelihood of higher engagement and performance. That means fewer missteps and faster execution. That’s always a good thing.