Americans love an individualist, a lone pioneer striking out on his own and blazing a trail to innovation (with the attendant rewards, of course). And while we will always celebrate the bold entrepreneur, author and management consultant Bruce Piasecki urges that those in the business world acknowledge the truth that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, the secret to sustainable value creation is a good team.
“In a world that becomes more complex by the day, ‘command and control’ is out, and employee engagement is in,” says Piasecki in his new book Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning. “The days when a larger-than-life personality is allowed to steamroll over the rest of the company are over. This destroys morale, which destroys results. Teams, not individuals, drive performance.” The organizations with real staying power are those that rely on well-led teams.
“Teams are more important than ever because the way we work and do business has changed,” says Piasecki. “The ideas that allow an organization to achieve, grow, and prosper (as opposed to merely survive) will be created only when teams leverage their combined skills and hold themselves mutually accountable. No individual, no matter how brilliant, is likely to have the skill set to take projects from start to finish in this fast-paced and complex environment.”
Those at the helm of industry can guide employees away from an individualistic mindset and toward cooperation without riding roughshod over their individual talents. But first, says Piasecki, “They must understand that managing teams, with their web of hidden politics and complex interplay of human differences, is very different from managing individuals.”
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Here are four more of Piasecki’s insights on teams:
1. Great teams relish the game. The ability to stumble, fall and get right back up is at the heart of a great team. Piasecki advises that captains encourage their teams to keep going in spite of setbacks. “Life can be a tough slog, and victories are sporadic at best. Maybe we can’t win but we can keep going. This striving brings with it its own unique rewards.”