admin on May 9, 2013
Alex Ferguson is one of the few leaders in football who has endured beyond a few seasons. And his genius was his ability to regenerate the team. He regularly surprised people as he moved on through Eric Cantona, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Christiano Ronaldo who were all at one time considered indispensable and yet they went and success continued.
What were the characteristics that kept the Ferguson magic going within Manchester United? The Ferguson Way is well documented: you accept someone for what they are, develop them into what you want them to be or move them on. It is as simple as that and businesses when they talent manage should be thinking in the same way accept, train or fire.
Ferguson’s success did not come instantly he had a vision which he stuck to. He mixed youth with experience with the Scholes, Neville brothers, Beckham and Butt which he nurtured he threw experience and leadership with the purchase of Eric Cantona and Steve Bruce. He also knew when players needed to move on.
Alex Ferguson from the off developed his own brand, he was entirely his own man and whilst the temper came to the fore occassionally he will be remembered by those who played for him as a compassionate man, a father figure who set the standards and abided by them, whose values were firmly pinned to his sleeve. Business leaders could learn a lot from that too!
Overall business could learn a great deal from Sir Alex’s success and it was great to see Harvard recognise that when he went to lecture there recently. The real challenge that now faces Manchester United is replacing such a great man. a great visionary and an amazing leader. I wonder if they really have an effective succession strategy in place?
Posted in: Leadership, Leadership efficacy, Sports Leadership, Team Building, Uncategorized
Dave on November 25, 2012
I always like to start discussions around team building with our clients by drawing their attention to and discussing Patrick Lencioni’s five dysfunctions of a team, namely:
Absence of Trust
Fear of Conflict
Lack of Commitment
Avoidance of Accountability
Inattention to Results
I do this because I think this model provides an excellent basis for building effective teams simply by removing the negative descriptors before the key words. So, for me an effective team achieves the following:
Trust through knowledge and acceptance
Constructive conflict by open communication
Commitment to agreed objectives and goals
Accountability and ownership of outcomes, individually and collectively
Results orientation through focus on desired outcomes
In terms of achieving a truly functional team, as defined above, in which team members are interdependent and supportive of one another; I believe there is little which can be achieved by traditional action learning ‘teambuilding’ events and activities. This is not to say the same have no value, more they tend not to build a team in any sustainable or relatively significant way.
Traditional team building activities ordinarily involve achieving defined tasks, which are not work related, away from the team’s operational environment. This dislocates and disassociates the team from their ordinary working experience and employs them in achieving an outcome which is irrelevant to the team in their operational role. Also, Lencioni’s model is hierarchical insofar as the absence of trust leads to fear of conflict which prevents commitment, and so on. By dislocating, disassociation and irrelevance the foundations of the functional team, that is, trust and constructive conflict are no longer required to achieve commitment to the task in hand. This in turn makes it relatively easy for team members to commit to the (irrelevant) task which can be achieved, more or less, without significant penalty in relation to ownership and accountability. Clearly, skilled delivery and facilitation can enable drawing of parallels and lessons relative to the working environment but the implementation of the same is another matter altogether.
My advice to clients seeking to build an effective team is to do so in their work place and utilising the realities of their environment and day to day work. Doing so smartly can also bring added value in achieving organic development and growth. In advising this I draw attention to the need for leadership and acknowledge the challenges involved in adopting such an approach. There are tools and processes which help in building effective teams in this way but the first requirement is for leadership and in so saying, the following clip by Patrick Lencioni about leadership helps explain why http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sqvWEI1CVg&feature=watch-vrec
Posted in: Leadership, Team Building
Phil on July 31, 2012
Modern leadership in a time when the quick eat the slow has to be different from that which flourished in the industrial era. Sadly very few organisations and academic places of learning recognise the requirement for a softer set of leadership skills. Cognitive leadership is all about understanding the environment in which you lead and then applying the appropriate leadership style, tool or skill to the occasion. This is beyond the broad definition of situational leading.
The modern leader needs to listen and watch passively to understand their situation and the needs of those they lead. Listening is an underestimated leadership competence that is recognised in some schools of thinking but watching or observing and noticing is rarely considered as a characteristic of leadership. Noticing skills are fundamental to cognitive leadership.
Lessons are learned harder and therefore learned better in failure and a vital component of the cognitive leader is the ability to forgive a mistake as long as it is learned from and not repeated. Humans are fallible and we all make mistakes it is how they are recovered from that makes the difference.
Using your experts many leaders believe they have to be expert at everything to have the right to lead. Experts are with you for a reason, use their expertise allow them to control when the situation is appropriate empower them to make them more effective. With the speed of information flow and the speed of business advisors are often better placed to react rather than just advise allow them the freedom to react appropriately to seize the opportunity before someone else does.
The bottom line in cognitive leadership is the ability to trust and be trusted. You will only be fully trusted by your team if you become a cognitive leader. A cognitive leader is someone who understands what needs to be done when, someone who has the courage and judgement to lead their teams through the toughest of ordeals and environments; someone who uses the cohesive power of the team and all its attributes. To become a cognitive leader you need to have complete faith in yourself and complete faith in those around you. Please do not confuse faith with arrogance.
Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Team Building, Uncategorized
Dave on May 25, 2012
When all is said and done, an executive board or management board are, in essence, a team. For any team leader, the easiest team to build and lead is the one in which all team members naturally get on well with one another. Shared likes, dislikes, views and interests ease the process of establishing rapport and building relationships with reduced likelihood or disagreement and argument. However, effective teams not only need individual members to support one another they also need to be able to challenge one another robustly in order to support one another more effectively.
Unlike lower order teams, where the primary collective output may be more a matter of (say) physical support and or co-operation and or co-ordination, a primary function of executive and senior level management boards is collective decision making. At this level, the phenomena of ‘Group Think’ should be at the forefront of any leader’s mind who is constructing a team at this level, or indeed, at any level where collective decision making is a primary function of the team. The strength of group thinking around problem solving and decision making is that many individual perspectives and strengths can be brought to bear on the issues requiring resolution. A problem examined and scrutinised from multiple points of view drawn from a range of subject matter specialists should enable or facilitate a more substantial and robust solution.
Broadly, Group Think as a decision making and judgement phenomena is where consensus has primacy and prevails over individual thoughts and judgements. In essence, this is when the power of the association with belonging to the group weighs greater in the individuals conscious and subconscious than personal perspectives, thoughts and knowledge. The effect is individual team members normalise their views to that of the collective. Great for harmony and all concerned, especially a strong leader; no arguments and total buy in to what the leader proposes. However; what if the leader’s knowledge and judgement is lacking? How robust is a solution likely to be and what is the likely quality of decision making to be when wrought in such circumstances?
The leader forming an executive or senior management board made up of strong willed, confident and articulate individuals with knowledge, skills and views not shared by him or herself requires significant leadership qualities, not least of all courage and resilience. To drive a business or organisation in the right direction with extremely high personal and collective stakes is difficult and stressful; to expect and want robust challenge in order to do so more effectively is even more difficult and stressful. Given the business environment of today – which is likely to fair better? Those ‘the birds of a feather’ who will undoubtedly get along famously as they crash together, or the bloodied and battered ‘band of brothers’ who invariably emerge stronger and better equipped to deal with life’s most difficult challenges?
Posted in: Leadership, Leadership efficacy, Team Building
Phil on November 1, 2011
The Rugby World Cup brings us a fine example of how not to lead and how a team can be successful despite its leader. Leadership has to exist at every level within a team if that team is going to perform consistently well. Leadership will influence and inspire team members to ever greater deeds. But leadership is about ownership and responsibility as well as empathy and understanding
Imanol Harinordoquy summed it up when he said the French team ignored coach Marc Lievremont at the World Cup because he was “lost”. After Lievremont called some of his squad ” spoiled brats” because they went against his instructions not to celebrate their Welsh victory.
“He was lost, I will not miss him,” said number eight Harinordoquy. ”It was our adventure. It was meant to be the nice experience of 30 men. We had to free ourselves from his supervision. He cast the stone at us too often. When something goes wrong, we’re all in the same boat. There are no good or bad guys.”
Great teamwork requires leadership to be inclusive rather than autocratic, developing a feeling of us rather than me and them. To do that trust has to be earned on both sides. Trust is earned more easily during testing, difficult and fallow times than it is when things are easy. Just look at the UK’s national cohesion delivered by Hitler through the Second World War. Trust is hard earned but can be lost very quickly if empathy and understanding are missing.
The human phenomenon that is the catalyst of trust is effective communication. Effective communication is open honest and not in any way ambiguous. And communication is about the effect on the receiver rather than the intended message of the sender. So again Empathy and understanding of the receiver’s position is key to effective communication.
Teams are made up of individuals who are entrusted by the team to carry out the roles and duties they are responsible for. So individual responsibility for performance is vital to performance, yet there is also a corporate responsibility held by the team. This is particularly so in professional sport where fan bases and even nations are watching expectantly. Professional sportsmen are no different from businessmen in terms of responsibility. It is here where modern society has a good deal to answer for in terms of allowing the derogation of responsibility. Responsibility is about accepting blame and accepting feedback and using both to foster improvement; all too often responsibility is offloaded like a hospital pass to the nearest source of external influence attributable to the action or behaviour. Externalising protects the weak but also prevents individuals from the identification and self realisation of the key areas requiring development. Sportsmen need to shoulder both individual and corporate responsibility.
Sports teams must be held accountable for all their results, not just the good ones. Sir Clive Woodward is a fine example of someone who built a team around him to deliver success and in that delivery every individual knew their role and owned their individual and the corporate result good or bad. An outstanding team is results oriented and every individual owns their contribution to that performance and owns the whole performance; leaders just as much as any other direct contributor. For that to happen leaders need not blame and carry out retribution but instead they need to honestly identify failure and weakness and coach and develop to influence improvement.
Leadership is all about ownership and responsibility wherever that leadership may be exercised. Self leadership through to corporate leadership entail responsibility and ownership.
Posted in: Leadership, Sports Leadership, Team Building, Uncategorized
Dave on September 29, 2011
How many team building days are no more than what can be at best described as a corporate day out? What is the tangible value or benefit of such events balanced against the corporate price tag and does it really matter anyway? Perhaps strange questions to ask given I have a vested interest in businesses and organisations continuing to invest in team building activities. Or perhaps not, may be just raising awareness of the difference and posing the questions in the context of the current economic situation.
Times are tough commercially and there has seldom been a time where getting as much performance as possible from all elements of a business has been so critical. We are in a time where efficiency and effectiveness are paramount to survival, let alone thriving. Without doubt, a cohesive team working together to achieve collective optimum performance yields the best possible results for an organisation; no matter the business sector or team concerned. Such levels of teamwork and organisational cohesion do not come without considered development and attention – it doesn’t happen by accident it happens by design.
Pat Lencioni’s ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, namely; absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results, are a good place to start in assessing an activity in terms of team building or corporate day out. If the planned activity does not address the dysfunctions in some way it is unlikely to be truly a team building activity. That is to say, teambuilding activities should build trust, facilitate challenging dialogue and encourage commitment and accountability whilst being focused on achieving results. All eminently possible through practical team activities involving objective appraisal and constructive feedback delivered which can be fun and delivered in an unusual environment. Arguably, it would be extremely difficult to address the dysfunctions without using interactive methods and more or less practical activities.
Quad biking, karting, a day at the races, clay pigeon shooting, etc. all fun, practical activities which teams can participate; however, team building? I don’t think so. Committing to participate in a CSR team activity, team challenge day, team competition, team ‘survival skills’ exercise, etc. all generally ‘hit the spot’ in terms of team building. Interestingly enough, both sets of activities are all probably pretty much in the same ‘ball park’ in terms of cost. When all is said and done, it is just a question of what is the real aim of the ‘activity day’. After all, enjoying social, fun activities together brings benefits to the team too, but let’s not call them team building.
Posted in: Motivation, Team Building