According to Howard Guttman, we can be sure of one thing in business—great teams make great organizations. What makes great business teams stand apart and how can they be replicated throughout an organization? Guttman believes great business teams are high-performing, horizontal teams that operate as a whole to achieve the highest levels of results. And by using these lessons you’ll be able to achieve such standout performance.
Great business teams start at the top. They are led by high-performance Leaders. Leaders who are in a hurry. Leaders who are impatient with the status quo.
Most organizations function on a hub-and-spoke model, with decisions radiating from a central base of power. They’re not built for high performance and speed. To combat this, high performance leaders have created a model that recognizes they can’t do it alone. High-performance leaders believe they are more powerful and effective in the presence of high-performing teams.
A great business team leaves nothing to chance. They spend time crafting hard-and-fast protocols and living by them. In great teams, people operate according to a clearly defined set of decision-making protocols, where people understand what they are accountable for and then own the results
Guttman says that when an organization is properly aligned, its component parts move in sync to achieve results. Scarce human, financial, and capital resources are deployed effectively, value is created quickly, consistently, and cost effectively.
To be a great business team, Guttman believes openness is crucial. If you have a point of view, you are free to express it. If there is conflict, you can resolve it without kick-back. If you have feedback, you can give it, provided it is depersonalized and fact-based.
The horizontal organization turns traditional hierarchical accountability on its side. Horizontal accountability puts equal emphasis on peer-to-peer accountability, as well as peer-to-leader accountability.
Great team leaders know that for horizontal accountability to take hold, they must lead by example. It is not only permissible, but expected, for team members to hold the leader accountable for business results, for observing agreed-upon protocols, and for their interpersonal behavior.
According to Guttman, one of the characteristics of all great business teams is that they continually raise the performance bar. The best teams are continually looking for new ways to improve.
To do this, high-performance leaders consider two factors. The person’s level of engagement—the degree of commitment to being a team player. And, the person’s skills—the knowledge and experience they bring to the table.
For those with a low level of engagement or skills, the leader will need to be direct with instruction. For those with a low level of engagement the leader assumes a coaching role. Those with a moderately high level of engagement will respond to collaborating with the leader and finally those with a high level of engagement can be left alone, empowered by the leader to get on with it.
To close, remember this: high-performing teams are not always so. The real world is full of twists and turns. It is unrealistic to expect on-going perfection from a team. When the leader or players feel that they are backsliding, it is time to recalibrate. However, by following Guttman’s principles, great teams can always bounce back.