31 Chapters
Medium 9781576751107

chapter 13 Faulty Vision

Robbins, Harvey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Ive got good news and bad. The bad news is that were lost. The good news is that were making great time. The point of this old saw is that team talent, efficiency, intelligence, and clout are pretty useless unless the team has some clue where it is going and how it is to contribute to the organizations overall strategies for success.

Were talking about vision here, one of the most misunderstood and misapplied ideas making the rounds now. Vision is not a vision statement. It is not something created in hindsight, or with an eye toward external consumption. It is not something you pay consultants $450 an hour to create for you at a weekend retreat by a warm fireplace and cash bar. It is not printed in bronze ink on a report to shareholders or in a guarantee to customers. It is not really words at all. It is a burning thought, and it exists solely in the heads (and hearts) of the team.

The vision is the thing the team exists to do, defined in ambitious form. It is the thing that leadership makes happen. Without team vision, there is no point to a team.

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chapter 31 Long-Term Team Health

Robbins, Harvey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

And so we draw near the end of the team journey. Weve identified all the problems, confusions, and misconceptions that have been keeping teams from performing, and taken steps to get them working the way they should. And youve kicked out the jams. Your group is a lean, mean teaming machine.

But the team journey doesnt end here. Having attained a solid groove, you need to find ways to keep the team there, and to keep the groove from deteriorating into a rut. You want your team to stay hungry and in the chase—even if it has already experienced solid success, even if it is being rewarded and recognized the way it deserves to be.

Sports clich alert: As hard as it is to win once, its tons harder to keep winning, year in and year out.

How does a team survive success? By striving to maintain the same level of attention to its own processes that it maintained while it was first achieving success. The point of reference is continuous improvement, what the Japanese call kaizen—the idea that processes can be improved infinitely.252

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chapter 12 Leadership Failure

Robbins, Harvey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Leadership is the tiredest word in organizational literature. It bears the burden for so much of every organizations hopes. Everyone agrees that leadership is vital to teams, like chlorophyll catalyzing the making of sugar. But what is it, exactly, and how does a team without it, get it?

Perhaps the best way to understand team leadership is to notice what happens when leadership isnt there. It isnt pretty.

Things dont happen. With no guidance, team members resort to a machine approach to getting work out the door. When in doubt, automate. Pile up product!

People are upset, disillusioned, hostile to their own enterprise. When work does get done it has a predictable character: mediocre. There is genuine despair among the team because there is no rallying point, no one to vent at, no one to intercede when things go awry, no one to get everyone back on track.

Eventually team members either explode in anger or implode in despair. Or worst of all, they decay in a lifeless orbit. Commitment and energy drain away. Slowly, individuals begin to drift away from the team. By the time the team figures out it is dead, it is really dead. But it started dying the moment its leadership came into question.

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chapter 23 Myths of Team Leadership

Robbins, Harvey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Leadership is the vessel for many of the worst team myths, for a logical reason. As keepers of the team vision, leaders make up a lot of stuff. Here are some of the worst illusions foisted on us by leaders about leadership.

Finally, there is the seriously mistaken notion that senior teams function like other teams, just in a more senior way. That teams at the top—teams comprised of board members, CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and other senior level execs—roll up their sleeves and collaborate in the same way that grunt teams do. They dont.

Anyone who has been on a senior team knows how rare true camaraderie is. The senior team table more closely resembles a play from the Renaissance, with dukes and earls and grand viziers jockeying for advantage, than the kind of team we have been talking about. At the top levels, politics reigns supreme, and team members are there less to cooperate on joint action than to pursue constituent agendas.209

This is partly because of the personality type that tends to rise to the top of organizations—Drivers with a bullet. Hard-charging executives prefer disposing to proposing, and they are typically rewarded for superior top-down, command-and-control performance. Except perhaps for the Vatican, large organizations do not turn to pastoral types for leadership.

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chapter 19 Change Issues

Robbins, Harvey Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We are passing through an era of reinvention, reengineering, and transformation. And we hate it.

We hate change because no matter which of three classic responses we make to it, it wins. If we dont embrace change, it overtakes us and hurts like hell. If we do try to embrace it, it still knocks us for a loop. If we try to anticipate change and be ready when it appears—well, it doesnt make much difference, we still wind up on our keesters. Change is pain, even when self-administered.

Change is to a team as the ocean is to a sponge—it is inside, outside, everywhere, the milieu in which everything happens. In most companies, teams are a part of the change. Because teams are geared toward flexibility, they should be better able to deal with the difficulties of change than conventional work groups.

But its still a drag, and many, many teams have perished because they could not adapt to the changes engulfing them. This chapter looks at the ways change can batter a team, and the ways teams can fight back.

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