The Final Four this weekend will feature this season’s four most effective NCAA Men’s Basketball teams; Ohio State, Kentucky, Louisville and Kansas. A common mission, strong leadership, collaboration and execution helped these teams endure the regular season and win in the NCAA tournament. Corporate teams require the same elements to perform together and achieve business goals. Developing a strong team, clarifying roles and creating an environment that encourages collaboration are the leader’s responsibility.
There are a number of team development models out there that are popular and respected. I’ve made use of Bruce Tuckman’s “5 Stages of Group Development Model” in my team building learning consulting, as well as Glen Parker’s thought leadership from his book “Team Players and Teamwork.”
A great new resource for leaders and team members is the recently published book entitled “The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do.” The author is my fellow Atlantan Mark Miller, Vice President, Learning and Development of Chick-fil-A. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to almost $4 billion. The company now has more than 1,500 restaurants in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
What I enjoyed most about the book is Mark’s creative use of a fictitious business and fictitious characters to explore real-world business situations and challenges facing teams. Through the characters’ experiences we learn that effective teamwork requires a special kind of leadership, a model that is fresh and insightful.
Mark also provides a “High-Performance Team Assessment” that leaders and their team can take and discuss the results together. The book was informative but also fun to read, something that isn’t always the case with business books.
I spoke with Mark to ask him a few questions about the book; here is what he had to say:
Q. You describe members of the highest performing teams as having an “all for one, one for all attitude.” What single behavior best describes this mindset at work?
A. What separates good teams from great ones is a sense of community. That’s what turbo-charges performance. There is no single behavior really. Community is cumulative over time. It’s when you acknowledge great performance or help someone who is struggling on a project that you don’t have to. When you learn about team members’ passions, hopes, dreams, striving and failing when you don’t meet the goal. Communities celebrate together, mourn together and do life together. You can’t force people into a community, but you can create the condition that’s appealing and compelling.
Q. What is the most important action a leader can take to build an effective team?
A. There are three key actions. 1) Focus on talent, 2) ensure they have the necessary skills and 3) consciously cultivate an environment of community. A leader can’t pass on one or two of these; they must acknowledge all three ingredients. Like our popular lemonade recipe at Chick-fil-A you need lemons, water and sugar. You need all three. Building an effective team is challenging. It requires courage and discipline.
Q. How do you suggest leaders and teams use the High-Performance Team Assessment you provide in the book?
A. I’d recommend you 1) Complete the form individually, and talk about the answers as a group. Look for patterns where you agree and disagree. You’re bound to learn something just by starting the conversation. 2) Prioritize critical gaps and have the team decide what constitutes a critical gap. 3) Create an action plan and measure progress. You can complete the form again at the team’s discretion.
For a free copy of the assessment, click this link to Mark’s Blog, GreatLeadersSERVE.Org under resources to find The Secrets of Teams Assessment.
Is your team playing at a Final Four level? Interested in Mark’s book? Check out “The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do.”