In his well-known business book "Good to Great", Jim Collins summarized the formula for high-performing teams as “getting the right leaders in the right seats on the bus”!
To make this formula quantifiable, it can be translated as follows: High-performing teams are an ideal state in which team culture and business models are aligned to make higher sustainable performance inevitable.
A high-performing team is a state in which four key conditions are optimized:
- compelling leadership mindset
- complete system-of-roles
- aligned strategies
- competitive advantage metrics.
How Do You Apply These Key Conditions To Quantify and Measure High-Performing Teams?
Data can be applied to measure these four key conditions. Imagine you got the following data for a team:
- Compelling Leadership Mindset: Data: The team leader is risk adverse.
- Complete System-of-Roles: Data: Team members tend to play the roles that they want instead of the roles that the team needs them to play.
- Aligned Strategies: Data: strategies are informal and unclear.
- Competitive Advantage Metrics: Data: Competitive advantage is not defined or understood.
What Does This Data Pattern Reveal?
It indicates the current primary constraint to becoming a high-performing for this team is the team leader's risk adverse mindset. In other words, if you want to improve this team's performance then you need to start by shifting the top leader's mindset. This analysis tells you what you need to do to improve this team!
Where Did These Key Conditions Come From?
First, these key conditions came from asking leaders - "what set of key conditions, if all optimized, would make success inevitable for you, your team and your business?" Second, they came from reviewing dozens of books written by team and business experts. And third, they came through real world application with hundreds of teams in many different kinds of businesses.
The first drafts of these key conditions were much longer and rougher. However, today this set of key condition is very precise. It is, so to speak, now a tested and proven hypothesis.
How Do These Key Conditions Work To Reveal Priorities?
The analysis above using the four key conditions is an example of a leadership philosophy and methodology called context thinking. A context is the set of key interdependent conditions that determines sustainable performance. The basis for context thinking is a single question: what set of key conditions, that if all optimized, would make success inevitable in this context? These key conditions are defined. Data is applied to test them. And primary constraints are revealed.
As such, context thinking is a systematic leadership approach for identifying, attracting and sustaining opportunities. It is an analytical approach to attraction thinking. The idea is if you need to push then you are doing it wrong!
The Good and Bad News
The good news for leaders is that by applying data to test these four key conditions, they can systematically identify and follow the fastest path to higher team performance.
The bad news is that these four key conditions show that leadership development and business evolution are deeply intertwined. They show that the journey to becoming a high-performing team is ultimately and inside-out leadership development journey.
They demonstrate the law-of-the-lid, which states that a team and business can never sustain a level of performance higher than the ways-of-thinking and acting of the top leader and team.
The bad news for some leaders is that to grow their businesses, they need to first change themselves, which may not be a message they want to hear!
Try asking these questions about your team:
- What is the current state of your team for each of the four key conditions?
- What is your team's current primary constraint to higher-performance?
- What should be your team's priorities?
Links To See
Here are some links to look at: