Teamwork at the top

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Fact Based Management, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 29th, 2021 by admin

Creating an effective top team starts with behavioral improvement and teamwork in leadership.

The popular business press on both sides of the Atlantic is infatuated with chief executive officers who have drunk from the Holy Grail of heroic leadership. To be sure, a single person can make a difference at times, but even such heroic CEOs as General Electric’s Jack Welch emphasize the power of team leadership in action. As Welch himself said, “We’ve developed an incredibly talented team of people running our major businesses, and, perhaps more important, there’s a healthy sense of collegiality, mutual trust, and respect for performance that pervades this organization.”

Increasingly, the top team is essential to the success of the enterprise. Indeed, Welch is celebrated not only for increasing GE’s revenues nearly sevenfold in his 20-year tenure but also for building one of the world’s strongest executive talent portfolios, which has provided new leadership for many Fortune 500 companies besides GE.

So despite the obsessions of the business press, senior executives, shareholders, and boards of directors question the myth of heroic leadership. Merely bringing in a new CEO to reshape an organization will tend to show mixed results. In reality, long-term success depends on the whole leadership team, for it has a broader and deeper reach into the organization than the CEO does, and its performance has a multiplier effect: a poorly performing team breeds competing agendas and turf politics; a high-performing one, organizational coherence and focus.

Often, however, the leadership team is at best a collection of strong individuals who sometimes work at cross-purposes. What does it take for senior managers to gel as a team? Our work with more than a score of top teams, involving upward of 500 executives in diverse private- and public-sector organizations, suggests a straightforward process for enhancing their performance.

The most effective teams, focusing initially on working together, get early results in their efforts to deal with important business issues and then reflect together on the manner in which they did so, thus discovering how to function as a team. Formal team-building retreats are rare; behavioral interventions and facilitated workshops, though sometimes helpful, are not central to the effort of team building. Top teams address business performance issues directly but behavioral issues only indirectly and after the event.

A second myth of leadership, as pervasive as the myth of the heroic CEO, is the idea that seasoned managers slotted into an organizational chart can easily function as a team. In reality, top teams face many problems: finding the right people, matching the available skills to the job, and learning to work together without taking the time to craft roles. Teams don’t magically coalesce overnight. Their members have to be close in the professional rather than personal sense; they can thrive in an atmosphere of conflict if it is managed to increase creative output and to catalyze change. Becoming a top-performing top team must be one of the team’s goals.

To meet that goal, teams have to master three dimensions of performance. First, they require a common direction: a shared understanding of goals and values. Second, skills of interaction are crucial if the team is to go beyond individual expertise to solve complex problems and, equally, if it is to withstand the scrutiny of the rest of the organization, for people usually take their cues from the top. Finally, top teams must always be able to renew themselves—to expand their capabilities in response to change.

One reason for the difficulty of improving a team’s performance is that interaction, direction, and renewal are interdependent—teams need to go forward simultaneously on all three fronts to make real progress. It isn’t surprising, for instance, that top teams interact poorly when they don’t have a common direction. By contrast, enhanced performance in one dimension not only reinforces the improvement in others but also provides for the genuine personal development that builds success.

Suppose, for example, the team believes that it must build trust among its members. It rarely helps to have self-conscious discussions or “sharing” exercises about keeping or breaching trust, an approach that may actually be quite destructive. But by working together to sharpen the sense of strategic direction—and in this way experiencing successful interactions—the team can indirectly, but often dramatically, improve its effectiveness and thus the feeling of trust among its members. In effect, the team exploits its strong reasoning abilities to build trust.

Identifying real problems

Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The same can be said of underperforming teams. Nonetheless, there are typical warning signs in each of the three dimensions of team performance.

Confused direction

Many CEOs assume that they and their top teams share a common understanding of corporate goals and values. Formal descriptions of roles, expected conduct, and corporate strategies and plans all reinforce this assumption, but several realities undermine it.

Lack of alignment. Executives may nod their heads when the CEO propounds a vision, but the team often lacks a shared view of how to implement it. At one well-known energy company, the five executives of a top team were asked to list the company’s 10 highest priorities. Alarmingly, they listed a total of 23 priorities; only 2 appeared on every executive’s list and only 7 on the lists of more than three members; indeed 13 of the 23 priorities appeared on only one list. In other cases, the team doesn’t agree about how performance should be assessed, who the company’s top performers are, or how to motivate the organization to achieve its stated objectives.

Lack of deep understanding. In some cases, the top team agrees on plans, but subsequent actions are inconsistent with its decisions. This problem reflects the tendency of top teams to focus on making decisions without examining the assumptions, the criteria, and the rationales behind them.

Lack of strategic focus. Top teams without a common direction spend more time on business as usual and on “fire fighting” than on seeking out and doing the work only they can do—work that is important to the organization and gives the team as a whole an opportunity to add value. A focused team concentrates on developing talent within the organization and on driving major growth initiatives; an unfocused team second-guesses line-management decisions, reruns analyses, and immerses itself in detail. Half of the executives we interviewed believed that they failed to add value in much of their work.

Ineffective interaction

Many management teams pay lip service to the importance of interaction but foster a working style that inhibits candid communication and collaboration.

Poor dialogue. Although the members of a team may spend much time talking to one another, they can often fail to communicate, by withholding vital information, suppressing critical opinions, or accepting questionable strategies out of fear of retaliation. These games lead not only to frustration but also to hidden agendas—problems that may stem from mistrust if individual team members don’t know one another or organizational units have a history of conflict. According to 65 percent of the respondents in our top-team database, trust was a real issue for their teams.

Dysfunctional behavior. Often the most serious result of poor dialogue is an inability to capitalize on diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, thus reducing the team’s ability to work creatively and adapt to changes in the market. And like any group of people, top teams can fall into destructive practices—for instance, the public humiliation of team members. Such behavior understandably creates fear and defensiveness and can intensify problems by isolating and scapegoating individual team members. Because the top team’s conduct is mimicked lower down in the organization, this kind of behavior can come to pervade it.

An inability to renew

Although many top teams recognize the importance of organizational renewal, few of them institute processes that revitalize effort and commitment. Three problems can make it hard for members of a team to step back and honestly assess their own performance. These problems often have their origin in the team members’ experience as middle managers. Most executives have climbed functional silos and are accustomed to defending their organizational turf. It is often difficult for such people to make the leap to broad strategic issues that have a bottom-line impact. Frequently, executives also can’t adapt their leadership style to life at the top, where interactions tend to be shorter, more frequent, less prepared, and aimed at a wider and more diverse audience.

Personal dissatisfaction. Many team members, despite their apparently successful careers and enviable positions, have become frustrated or insufficiently challenged by their work. A quarter of our respondents said that their jobs didn’t stretch them. Collectively and individually, team members ignore new sources of insight, information, and experience that could push them out of their comfort zone. The teams we have observed engaging in destructive politics usually discourage their members from assuming new roles or taking risks. As a result, these executives ultimately become bored, and their performance declines; hence, the typical CEO complaint that once-solid team members no longer energize others or adapt to changing needs.

Insularity. Top teams rarely pay enough attention to information from outside their companies or industries—information that, digested quickly, could influence key strategic and organizational decisions. In addition, top teams seldom make the time to reflect on the information they do receive and to assess its future impact. Lacking structured processes to receive and reflect upon information from external sources, most teams don’t find the time to generate a real strategic focus.

Deficient individual skills. Most companies give the members of their top teams little mentoring or coaching about how to effect change. Unlike middle managers, who frequently get broad training and coaching, senior managers usually work without a safety net and, frequently, without a second chance. Among the executives we surveyed, 80 percent believed that they had the necessary skills to fulfill their role, but only 30 percent believed that all of their colleagues did.

Becoming a top team

How can a company set about improving the performance of its top team? Our research points to some useful strategies for promoting effective action, reflection, and cohesion.

How it works

Many behavioral team-improvement efforts fail because they don’t speak to the needs of top managers: programmed exercises, for instance, seem artificial. Our work with top teams suggests four ways to build their performance by replicating the way senior executives actually work together.

1. Address a number of initiatives concurrently. The top team must focus on the most pressing issues—work that only it can do. Achieving tangible outcomes in a variety of management challenges is essential. The activities most likely to foster team action and reflection include framing strategy, managing performance, managing stakeholders, and reviewing top talent. The team really needs to do these things whether or not its members are attempting to improve their own performance as a team. The action element of the cycle improves the direction of the organization and its ability to renew itself, while reflection makes it possible for teams to discover ways of improving their interaction.

2. Channel the team’s discontent. Only 20 percent of the executives we surveyed thought their team was a high-performing one. Successful teams invite external challenges, focus on competitive threats, and judge themselves by best practice, since comparisons with industry leaders or key competitors raise the quality of debate by putting facts on the table.

3. Minimize outside intrusions. It is hard for a team to execute an improvement process by itself; some form of facilitation is usually required. Consultants or coaches should observe top teams at work rather than lead meetings or presentations. They should never try to direct the team’s work. Finally, they should ensure that real work dominates the improvement process. Teams must discover what is effective for them. Merely telling a team the solution to its problems reinforces the poor quality of its alignment and interaction.

4. Encourage inquiry and reflection. More than 80 percent of the executives we surveyed said that they didn’t set aside enough time for analyzing the root causes of problems. These executives believe that instead of developing rules of thumb slowly and subconsciously, they should use their business experience to draw lessons. Most senior business executives took a decade or more to develop their business judgment, but with the tenure of CEOs becoming shorter as investors’ expectations rise, most top teams just cannot wait years to improve their performance. Facilitating team cycles of action and reflection—accelerating the pace of change and making the process of discovery explicit—can have a significant effect in as quickly as three months.

What it looks like

On the face of it, a top team going through the performance improvement process resembles any other top team at work. As usual, CEOs and senior executives address a number of strands of business, but they focus on major strategic issues and work together as colleagues rather than delegate tasks to staffers, consultants, or individual team members. At a minimum, the entire top team should spend one day each month together, without staffers, doing real work as a team. Subgroups of two or three members should work together a couple of times a week on every issue the team is addressing and should probably spend some time with a facilitator as well.

Teams rarely manage to improve their performance wholly outside their active working environment, so short-term workshops, no matter how attractive the setting or how heart-felt and candid the members’ exchanges may be, aren’t likely to change their mode of working. Structured self-discovery and reflection must be combined with decision making and action in the real world; the constant interplay among these elements over time is what creates lasting change.

Why it works

Teamwork is a pragmatic enterprise that grows from tangible achievements. The action-reflection cycle—supported by improved direction, interaction, and renewal—complements the work style of most senior teams. First, this approach pushes them to address their own performance just as directly and forcefully as they would address other business performance issues. By doing real work on important problems and applying business judgment to reflect on that work, top teams jump-start their performance and satisfy their need for visible progress.

Second, taking an oblique approach to sensitive performance issues allows top teams to address their behavior after the event, without personal confrontations. Team members discover that alternative points of view are valid, that the CEO doesn’t have all the ideas the company needs for success, and that the team can be both challenging and supportive at the same time. This paradoxical combination—the indirect assessment of team behavior through direct work on critical issues—allows top teams to manage their own performance. Before investing time and resources in programs to build the top team, leaders should ensure that such efforts deal with its real work.

Teams must assess their own performance regularly and honestly. Every senior team should also dedicate several working sessions a year to issues—such as technology, changing demographics, political and environmental pressures, and emerging themes from management literature—that have little bearing on the next quarter but could reshape the enterprise and the team itself during the next five years. Teams should also explore unexpected successes and interesting failures inside and outside their organizations. They ought to travel, both physically and intellectually, outside their own regions and industries to companies that have tackled challenges similar to their own.

In doing all this, teams should pay attention to the consistency of their leadership, the quality of their interaction, and their opportunities for renewal. They must also build into their work processes ample time to reflect on the deeper causes of problems, on the areas where they can add the most value as a team, and on the quality of their past decisions. It is the process of discovering the best way for the members of the team to work together that ensures the absorption of basic behavioral lessons.

The prize for building effective top teams is clear: they develop better strategies, perform more consistently, and increase the confidence of stakeholders. They get positive results—and make the work itself a more positive experience both for the team’s members and for the people they lead.



Finns det en baksida av att vara tävlingsinriktad?

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 23rd, 2021 by admin

Man blir inte OS-vinnare utan att vara motiverad. Och motivation kan också behövas i vardagen, för att ta tag i träningen, orka prestera på jobbet eller klara av skolan. Motivation kan ibland bli kontraproduktiv – men inte för alla.

– Det är lätt att man alltid problematiserar. För en del går det alldeles utmärkt att drivas av yttre faktorer och resultat, säger Victoria Blom, docent i idrottspsykologi.

Att vara lite bättre på arbetsuppgiften än sina kolleger eller att vinna guldet i idrottstävlingen kan vara en motivation för en del människor. Den motivationen kan behövas för att man ska lägga ner så mycket tid som krävs för att man ska nå sitt mål.

– Om man till exempel ska lägga ner i stort sett hela sitt liv och satsa på en idrottskarriär så måste man ju ha ett driv för att orka med det, och då måste man tycka att det är värt det.

Det säger Mikael Wallsbeck, lärare i idrottspsykologi vid Bosöns folkhögskola. Han menar att vi i vårt samhälle idoliserar ”vinnarskallarna” – de som alltid vill prestera lite bättre än alla andra. Och den vinnarinstinkten kan förvisso vara positiv och ge resultat – men den kan också bli kontraproduktiv och leda till sämre resultat än om man fokuserar på processen.

– Det kan vara någon fotbollsspelare som värvas av en klubb, men som byter klubb efter en vecka för att den får för lite speltid och tänker ”Jag är för bra för det här”. Men så finns de som sitter på bänken och accepterar det, som jobbar med det och är ödmjuka.

För att kunna lyckas, arbeta framåt och nå framgångar så är det kanske snarare motivation än vinnarinstinkt som krävs. Inom idrottspsykologin talar man om olika motivationsteorier. Den inre motivationen kommer av att man tycker att en uppgift är rolig och engagerande. Belöningen för att man lyckas utföra en uppgift är där en känsla av kompetens och självbestämmande.

Den inre motivationen växelverkar med yttre motivation. Där är belöningen någonting som är orelaterat till uppgiften – som till exempel att man ”vunnit” eller presterat bättre än någon annan.

– Vilken man drivs mest av kan handla om vad man har lärt sig och fått med sig från sin uppväxt och vad som är viktigt för en, säger Mikael Wallsbeck.

Victoria Blom är legitimerad psykolog och docent i psykologi vid Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH och Stockholms universitet. Hon menar att motivationen kan bli forcerad om den kommer ur en känsla av att man inte duger som person om man inte är bäst.

– Att om man inte vinner tävlingen, får A på provet eller alltid är duktig på jobbet så är man inte värdefull. Det blir en tvångsmässig och anspänd strävan och ett prestationsdriv som kan skapa stress.

För att prestationssträvan inte ska bli en destruktiv kan man försöka hitta sina inre drivkrafter och värderingar.

– Rikta fokus på uppgiften i sig, och vad som är roligt med just det du gör. Försök locka fram den inre motivationen, nyfikenheten och lusten för uppgiften i sig, och gör så att det viktiga inte är klappen på axeln, utan det som faktiskt är roligt och meningsfullt med uppgiften. Den inre motivationen är mer långvarig och gör att du bibehåller ditt engagemang längre.

Vi återgår till exemplet med fotbollsspelaren som får ”för lite speltid”. Mikael Wallsbeck menar att man för att hjälpa den personen att komma framåt behöver arbeta med ett uppgiftsorienterat klimat, snarare än resultatet.

– Om du sitter på bänken så finns det jättemycket du kan jobba med. Egot måste inte bara vara resultatstyrt. Jag träffar idrottare som sitter på bänken i perioder men som mår bra och utvecklas i sitt idrottande. Det handlar inte om att ge upp, utan om att vara smart.

För att skapa inre motivation menar Mikael Wallsbeck att man måste fundera på varför man gör det man gör. Och även om exemplet ovan handlar om en elitidrottare så kan samma sak gälla för gemene man. Om du gång på gång försöker komma i gång med träningen men misslyckas kanske du måste byta inställning och fundera på varför du gör som du gör.

– Man måste stanna upp och fundera på vad man vill. Varför börjar jag träna? Är det för att andra säger att jag borde göra det? Då kanske jag måste hitta någonting i mitt inre som gör att jag vill.

Den inre motivationen till varför man vill träna är viktig för att hålla i gång vanan. Foto: Henrik Isaksson/TT

Att vilja prestera bra är förstås inte dåligt i sig. Det kan också ge en känsla av kompetens hos en person.

– Problemet är om du upplever att ditt värde hänger på dina prestationer, att allt blir resultatbaserat på bekostnad av det lustfyllda. Det kan leda till att man sätter upp rigida regler för sig själv att alltid prestera bäst eller aldrig tumma på perfektion, och det blir väldigt obehagligt att gå utanför dessa snäva regler, säger Victoria Blom.

Prestationsbaserad självkänsla innebär att man har en låg självkänsla, där man känner att man inte duger ifall man inte presterar bäst på varje uppgift. Enligt Victoria Bloms studier har hög prestationsbaserad självkänsla en koppling till symtom på utbrändhet. Och den typen av självkänsla kan grundläggas tidigt.

Men det finns sätt för vuxenvärlden att försöka skapa en inre motivation i barn och unga.

– Hela samhället, och inte minst idrottsvärlden och skolan, basunerar ut ett budskap om att det är viktigt att vara duktig. Och det spär ju säkert på det här. Det är såklart läskigare att göra misstag eller att våga fråga när man inte förstår, om man är i en miljö där det är uttalat att man inte får misslyckas, säger Victoria Blom och fortsätter:

– Det man skulle vilja är att man fokuserar på att det ska vara roligt, på ansträngningen och utvecklingen snarare än på resultatet och om man vann.

För någon som lider av en rädsla för att misslyckas kan det fungera att försöka byta strategi:

– Vi jobbar med att utmana ”livsregler” som man kan ha satt upp: att testa att inte vara förberedd till tänderna till ett möte eller att ställa en ogenomtänkt fråga och inse att det inte betyder att alla kommer att tycka att man är helt oduglig som person, säger Victoria Blom.

Hon säger också att man som närstående till en högpresterande person kan hålla koll på vissa varningstecken:

– Om någon är väldigt rädd för att misslyckas, och blir väldigt rigid i sitt sätt att vara för att inte riskera att misslyckas. Det kan också vara kopplat till ett stort kontrollbehov, där det blir läskigt med situationer man inte har benkoll på för att man då kan misslyckas. Och om man märker att någon inte grundar sin känsla för vad som är bra i sig själv, utan utifrån vad andra tycker.

Att försöka hjälpa till att bygga upp en känsla av kompetens och autonomi är ett annat sätt att skapa positiv motivation hos en person med ett destruktivt prestationsdriv. Att bidra med en positiv miljö där det finns psykologisk trygghet och tillit, ett tillåtande klimat med högt i tak och där man litar på att alla gör det som är bäst för uppgiften. Det främjar både inre motivation, långvarigt engagemang och skapar en bra inlärningskontext.

– Man skulle vilja att tränare, lärare, föräldrar, chefer fångar upp det här och inte kommer med gliringar när en person vågar testa att göra misstag, släppa lite på kontrollen eller inte alltid säger ja till alla uppgifter. Att möta personen på ett bekräftande sätt när hen utmanar sina invanda beteendemönster.

Om man känner prestationsångest i en viss situation – till exempel jobbet – kan man försöka utöka andra områden som intresserar en.

– Fokusera mer på familj, vänner, fritidsintressen. Så att inte självbilden står och faller med prestationen på jobbet, säger Victoria Blom.

Motivation är ju i de allra flesta fall någonting positivt. Men samtidigt kan det vara svårt att se när en problematik kryper in i en högpresterande persons liv. De flesta sätter sig nog inte en vanlig onsdag och funderar på vad det är som driver en att alltid prestera.

Men det kanske man borde göra, menar hon.

– Fundera på vad som driver dig: Vad är viktigt och meningsfullt för mig? Är jag ibland alltför nitisk och rigid i mina regler för hus saker ska göras?

Mikael Wallsbeck säger att den yttre motivationen kan behövas i vissa fall. Det är inte så många som njuter av uppgiften att stå på en crosstrainer. I stället gör man det för att leva längre, även om det inte ger glädje i stunden. Och även tävlingar fyller en funktion.

– Det är klart att man kan tävla. Problemet är att om det får för stort fokus så tenderar idrottsledarna att missa den inre motivationen. Man fokuserar bara på att ”vi måste öva avslut inför morgondagens match”, i stället för att se till processen och omtanken inom laget.

Det finns såklart välmående vinnarskallar, säger han. Men om man märker att någon som vanligtvis är tävlingsinriktad och verkar tillfreds och glad över sina prestationer plötsligt börjar få en personlighetsförändring är det läge att försöka hjälpa personen.

– Det kan vara att de börjar träna mycket mer än de brukar, eller tvärtom: att de blir tysta och inåtvända. Det man kan göra är att erbjuda sina öron. Visa att du har uppmärksammat förändringen och hur personen mår, säger han.

Källa:, 22 juli 2021

High-performing teams: A timeless leadership topic

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 19th, 2021 by admin
CEOs and senior executives can employ proven techniques to create top-team performance.

The value of a high-performing team has long been recognized. It’s why savvy investors in start-ups often value the quality of the team and the interaction of the founding members more than the idea itself. It’s why 90 percent of investors think the quality of the management team is the single most important nonfinancial factor when evaluating an IPO. And it’s why there is a 1.9 times increased likelihood of having above-median financial performance when the top team is working together toward a common vision. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team,” is the way Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder, sums it up. Basketball legend Michael Jordan slam dunks the same point: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

The topic’s importance is not about to diminish as digital technology reshapes the notion of the workplace and how work gets done. On the contrary, the leadership role becomes increasingly demanding as more work is conducted remotely, traditional company boundaries become more porous, freelancers more commonplace, and partnerships more necessary. And while technology will solve a number of the resulting operational issues, technological capabilities soon become commoditized.

Building a team remains as tough as ever. Energetic, ambitious, and capable people are always a plus, but they often represent different functions, products, lines of business, or geographies and can vie for influence, resources, and promotion. Not surprisingly then, top-team performance is a timeless business preoccupation. (See sidebar “Cutting through the clutter of management advice,” which lists top-team performance as one of the top ten business topics of the past 40 years, as discussed in our book, Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths.)

Amid the myriad sources of advice on how to build a top team, here are some ideas around team composition and team dynamics that, in our experience, have long proved their worth.

Team composition

Team composition is the starting point. The team needs to be kept small—but not too small—and it’s important that the structure of the organization doesn’t dictate the team’s membership. A small top team—fewer than six, say—is likely to result in poorer decisions because of a lack of diversity, and slower decision making because of a lack of bandwidth. A small team also hampers succession planning, as there are fewer people to choose from and arguably more internal competition. Research also suggests that the team’s effectiveness starts to diminish if there are more than ten people on it. Sub-teams start to form, encouraging divisive behavior. Although a congenial, “here for the team” face is presented in team meetings, outside of them there will likely be much maneuvering. Bigger teams also undermine ownership of group decisions, as there isn’t time for everyone to be heard.

Beyond team size, CEOs should consider what complementary skills and attitudes each team member brings to the table. Do they recognize the improvement opportunities? Do they feel accountable for the entire company’s success, not just their own business area? Do they have the energy to persevere if the going gets tough? Are they good role models? When CEOs ask these questions, they often realize how they’ve allowed themselves to be held hostage by individual stars who aren’t team players, how they’ve become overly inclusive to avoid conflict, or how they’ve been saddled with team members who once were good enough but now don’t make the grade. Slighting some senior executives who aren’t selected may be unavoidable if the goal is better, faster decisions, executed with commitment.

Of course, large organizations often can’t limit the top team to just ten or fewer members. There is too much complexity to manage and too much work to be done. The CEO of a global insurance company found himself with 18 direct reports spread around the globe who, on their videoconference meetings, could rarely discuss any single subject for more than 30 minutes because of the size of the agenda. He therefore formed three top teams, one that focused on strategy and the long-term health of the company, another that handled shorter-term performance and operational issues, and a third that tended to a number of governance, policy, and people-related issues. Some executives, including the CEO, sat on each. Others were only on one. And some team members chosen weren’t even direct reports but from the next level of management down, as the CEO recognized the importance of having the right expertise in the room, introducing new people with new ideas, and coaching the next generation of leaders.

Team dynamics

It’s one thing to get the right team composition. But only when people start working together does the character of the team itself begin to be revealed, shaped by team dynamics that enable it to achieve either great things or, more commonly, mediocrity.

Consider the 1992 roster of the US men’s Olympic basketball team, which had some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, among them Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Scottie Pippen. Merely bringing together these players didn’t guarantee success. During their first month of practice, indeed, the “Dream Team” lost to a group of college players by eight points in a scrimmage. “We didn’t know how to play with each other,” Scottie Pippen said after the defeat. They adjusted, and the rest is history. The team not only won the 1992 Olympic gold but also dominated the competition, scoring over 100 points in every game.

What is it that makes the difference between a team of all stars and an all-star team? Over the past decade, we’ve asked more than 5,000 executives to think about their “peak experience” as a team member and to write down the word or words that describe that environment. The results are remarkably consistent and reveal three key dimensions of great teamwork. The first is alignment on direction, where there is a shared belief about what the company is striving toward and the role of the team in getting there. The second is high-quality interaction, characterized by trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace conflict. The third is a strong sense of renewal, meaning an environment in which team members are energized because they feel they can take risks, innovate, learn from outside ideas, and achieve something that matters—often against the odds.

So the next question is, how can you re-create these same conditions in every top team?

Getting started

The starting point is to gauge where the team stands on these three dimensions, typically through a combination of surveys and interviews with the team, those who report to it, and other relevant stakeholders. Such objectivity is critical because team members often fail to recognize the role they themselves might be playing in a dysfunctional team.

While some teams have more work to do than others, most will benefit from a program that purposefully mixes offsite workshops with on-the-job practice. Offsite workshops typically take place over two or more days. They build the team first by doing real work together and making important business decisions, then taking the time to reflect on team dynamics.

The choice of which problems to tackle is important. One of the most common complaints voiced by members of low-performing teams is that too much time is spent in meetings. In our experience, however, the real issue is not the time but the content of meetings. Top-team meetings should address only those topics that need the team’s collective, cross-boundary expertise, such as corporate strategy, enterprise-resource allocation, or how to capture synergies across business units. They need to steer clear of anything that can be handled by individual businesses or functions, not only to use the top team’s time well but to foster a sense of purpose too.

The reflective sessions concentrate not on the business problem per se, but on how the team worked together to address it. For example, did team members feel aligned on what they were trying to achieve? Did they feel excited about the conclusions reached? If not, why? Did they feel as if they brought out the best in one another? Trust deepens regardless of the answers. It is the openness that matters. Team members often become aware of the unintended consequences of their behavior. And appreciation builds of each team member’s value to the team, and of how diversity of opinion need not end in conflict. Rather, it can lead to better decisions.

Many teams benefit from having an impartial observer in their initial sessions to help identify and improve team dynamics. An observer can, for example, point out when discussion in the working session strays into low-value territory. We’ve seen top teams spend more time deciding what should be served for breakfast at an upcoming conference than the real substance of the agenda (see sidebar “The ‘bike-shed effect,’ a common pitfall for team effectiveness”). One CEO, speaking for five times longer than other team members, was shocked to be told he was blocking discussion. And one team of nine that professed to being aligned with the company’s top 3 priorities listed no fewer than 15 between them when challenged to write them down.

Back in the office

Periodic offsite sessions will not permanently reset a team’s dynamics. Rather, they help build the mind-sets and habits that team members need to first observe then to regulate their behavior when back in the office. Committing to a handful of practices can help. For example, one Latin American mining company we know agreed to the following:

  • A “yellow card,” which everyone carried and which could be produced to safely call out one another on unproductive behavior and provide constructive feedback, for example, if someone was putting the needs of his or her business unit over those of the company, or if dialogue was being shut down. Some team members feared the system would become annoying, but soon recognized its power to check unhelpful behavior.
  • An electronic polling system during discussions to gauge the pulse of the room efficiently (or, as one team member put it, “to let us all speak at once”), and to avoid group thinking. It also proved useful in halting overly detailed conversations and refocusing the group on the decision at hand.
  • A rule that no more than three PowerPoint slides could be shared in the room so as to maximize discussion time. (Brief pre-reads were permitted.)

After a few months of consciously practicing the new behavior in the workplace, a team typically reconvenes offsite to hold another round of work and reflection sessions. The format and content will differ depending on progress made. For example, one North American industrial company that felt it was lacking a sense of renewal convened its second offsite in Silicon Valley, where the team immersed itself in learning about innovation from start-ups and other cutting-edge companies. How frequently these offsites are needed will differ from team to team. But over time, the new behavior will take root, and team members will become aware of team dynamics in their everyday work and address them as required.

In our experience, those who make a concerted effort to build a high-performing team can do so well within a year, even when starting from a low base. The initial assessment of team dynamics at an Australian bank revealed that team members had resorted to avoiding one another as much as possible to avoid confrontation, though unsurprisingly the consequences of the unspoken friction were highly visible. Other employees perceived team members as insecure, sometimes even encouraging a view that their division was under siege. Nine months later, team dynamics were unrecognizable. “We’ve come light years in a matter of months. I can’t imaging going back to the way things were,” was the CEO’s verdict. The biggest difference? “We now speak with one voice.”

Hard as you might try at the outset to compose the best team with the right mix of skills and attitudes, creating an environment in which the team can excel will likely mean changes in composition as the dynamics of the team develop. CEOs and other senior executives may find that some of those they felt were sure bets at the beginning are those who have to go. Other less certain candidates might blossom during the journey.

There is no avoiding the time and energy required to build a high-performing team. Yet our research suggests that executives are five times more productive when working in one than they are in an average one. CEOs and other senior executives should feel reassured, therefore, that the investment will be worth the effort. The business case for building a dream team is strong, and the techniques for building one proven.



Många företagare jobbar på semestern

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on juli 13th, 2021 by admin

Varannan företagare jobbar på sin semester. Det visar en undersökning från Företagarna.

Just nu har miljontals svenskar semester och kan koppla bort jobbet helt. Annat är det för de som driver företag.

Många av dem kan inte vara helt lediga på sin semester.

Det visar undersökningen som Företagarna gjort med drygt 800 företagare i olika delar av Sverige, i olika branscher och med olika storlek på företagen.

Undersökningen visar att:

Mer än varannan företagare, 54 procent, inte kan vara helt ledig under sin semester. Motsvarande siffra 2017 var 42 procent.

Endast 18 procent av företagarna kan ta ut fyra veckors sammanhängande semester.

En av fyraföretagare jobbar minst 20 timmar under sin semester.

– När resten av Sverige kopplar på semesterhjärnan så fortsätter hjulen i landets småföretag att snurra. Inom vissa branscher är tempot till och med högre nu än under resten av året, säger Günther Mårder, vd på Företagarna och fortsätter:

– Oavsett hur mycket hängmattan lockar så är rollen som företagare är inget du kan logga ut från. Även under sommarmånaderna ska offerter räknas på och löner betalas ut, säger Günther Mårder, vd på Företagarna.

Vad jobbar företagarna med under semestern?
1. Jobbmejl 88 %
2. Administration 78 %
3. Jobbrelaterade telefonsamtal 69 %
4. Har kontakt med kunder 59 %
5. Planerar verksamhet 41 %
6. Sköter företagets normala drift men på distans 38 %
7. Har kontakt med andra på företaget 28 %
8. Marknadsföring 22 %
9. Personalfrågor 14 %
10. Kompetensutveckling 14 %
11. Annat 5 %

Källa:, 12 juli 2021

Chefsegenskaperna som blivit viktigare under pandemin

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 11th, 2021 by admin

Osäkra tider och distansarbete har medfört nya krav och förväntningar på chefer. Här är de ledaregenskaper som värdesätts mest under pandemin, enligt en ny Sifo-undersökning.

Kantar Sifo har på uppdrag av HR-företaget Talentsoft frågat 1432 svenskar i åldrarna 18-65 år under perioden 7-10 maj 2021 om hur de ser på chefsrollen och vilka egenskaper de värdesätter mest hos en chef.

Mer än hälften (55 procent) anser att chefsrollen har blivit viktigare nu än före pandemin och nästan var fjärde (24 procent) svarar även att deras chef är viktigare för dem personligen nu. Frihet under ansvar och att chefen visar tillit värdesätts högt (55 procent) samt att chefen är rak och tydlig (38 procent) och vågar ta beslut (35 procent). För många har pandemin, förutom osäkra tider, inneburit distansarbete och då ställs det nya krav på cheferna. Bland de egenskaper som svenskarna tycker är viktigare nu än innan pandemin återfinns “förmågan att anpassa sin ledarskapsstil till distansarbete” (51 procent), att ”motivera sina anställda” (50 procent) och ”intern kommunikation” (49 procent).

– Nu gäller det som chef att visa medarbetarna förtroende. Ledare som uppmuntrar till självledarskap, det vill säga på riktigt ger frihet under ansvar, kommer med största sannolikhet att se en ökad arbetsmoral och ett högre engagemang hos medarbetarna även efter pandemin, säger Allan Nygaard, Nordenchef på Talensoft, i ett pressmeddelande.

10 chefsegenskaper som blivit viktigare under pandemin

  1. Digitalt ledarskap / förmåga att anpassa sin ledarskapsstil till distansarbete              (51%)
  2. Att motivera anställda                                                                    (50%)
  3. Intern kommunikation                                                                    (49%)
  4. Att upprätthålla ett klimat av professionellt förtroende                          (23%)
  5. Förmågan att hantera ångest bland anställda                                (19%)
  6. Krishantering                                                                                      (17%)
  7. Coaching                                                                                      (14%)
  8. Tidsplanering                                                                                (13%)
  9. Att hantera nedskärningar och besparingar                                    (12 %)
  10. Övriga / allmänna HR-frågor                                                          (10 %)

Source:, 11 juli 2021

Cultivate these five characteristics to become a good manager

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 5th, 2021 by admin

A bad manager can make a great job terrible, while a good manager can make a terrible job tolerable. How can you tell a good manager from a bad one? These are five key characteristics.

A Manpower survey found that nearly 40% of global candidates say that a flexible schedule is one of the top three things they consider when choosing a job. But, flexible schedules aren’t the only important part of management—treating employees as individuals is essential as well. This means that you can vary in how you react to different situations. Management “by fiat” where there is one solution for all employees doesn’t make your company a great place to work. Good managers treat their people as people.

That means they treat them with flexibility and understanding.


Let’s say a job description says “flexible schedules” and “supportive environment.” But then after you get the job, you find out that the boss’s definition of flexibility means you can come to work any time between 7:55 and 8:02. The supportive environment turns out to be that everyone has to be at the office at all times, supporting each other. If this is the case, you’ll start to hate the job—even if the work is excellent.

Honesty doesn’t mean rudeness, but it does mean correcting problems when they come up. Giving employees specific examples of how, when, and what they can improve is far more valuable than nicely ignoring a problem.

Managers, of course, cannot tell employees confidential information, but they can tell them what they need to know to do their jobs. Honest managers don’t hoard information.


Many employment laws center on the concept of compassion. If your employee has a new baby, it’s kind to let the new mom or dad have time off to bond with the baby. It’s also the law under the Family Medical Leave Act (if your employee qualifies).

If an employee has a bad back and needs a standing desk or a specialized office chair, providing these things is kind and could also be required by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other acts of kindness aren’t enshrined in law. The federal government has no law requiring you to give additional days off when an employee’s mother-in-law dies, but a kind individual does. No law exists that requires you to approve a flexible schedule so that your employee can return to college to finish their degree, but kindness does.

Good managers look for ways to demonstrate kindness, even when it’s not required by law.

Fair Pay

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of employees to discuss working conditions, including pay, with their coworkers. But people don’t talk. Harvard Business School’s Zoë Cullen and UCLA’s Ricardo Perez-Truglia found that when they asked people to guess their coworkers’ salaries, the guesses were off by an average of 16%. People don’t talk about their salaries, which means that managers can pretty easily pay people unfairly. It’s illegal to pay people based on race, gender, or other protected characteristics, and good managers should understand that fair pay for everyone is critical to success; they should feel fine when employees discuss their compensation with each other because everyone should theoretically be receiving fair pay.

Fair pay is not just having the same pay as other similarly situated employees. Fair pay also means employees receive a fair market rate.

A study found that employees who change jobs have higher pay increases than those who stay at the same company. Companies that don’t give raises commensurate with what the employee would earn if they moved to a new company are not offering fair pay. It’s essential to keep up to date with salaries.

Builds Successful Teams With a Leadership Mindset

Good managers don’t just look out for their own success—they look out for the success of their teams. The Society for Human Resource Management says that in order to become good leaders, managers—especially those new to the position— must develop a leader’s mindset.

A leader has to see situations differently than an individual contributor does. The leader focuses on the big picture and helps bring people together to accomplish significant goals. You cannot expect to jump immediately from a “doing” role to a “managing” role without having gaps in your leadership skills. Good managers work to fill these gaps in and to switch their viewpoint to one of a leader.

A good leader wants employees to experience engagement and respect. It’s not a matter of being right; it’s a matter of building an environment in which people can succeed.

For instance, SHRM shares the story of a manager who led by yelling, which worked—until it didn’t. Christian Shinkle says that when he switched his mindset from managing by fiat to managing by leadership, he saw a change. “A lot of times, just by slowing down and looking at it from the employee’s perspective, you can understand why the employee made the mistake in the first place and figure out how to prevent it.”10 This is an example of a leader’s mindset—what can I do to make things better.

The Bottom Line

There are millions of ways to become a good manager—no strict pattern exists that every good manager must follow every time. But these basic principles can help managers help their employees succeed. Successful employees lead to successful businesses, which should be the goal of all managers.


Source:, 2021