Have you ever worked at a company where heroics of individual achievement is often celebrated more than team accomplishment? Unless you're the hero, it's not very fun, and teams like this typically produce anemic outcomes. Leaders who have learned how to keep individuals on the team focused on the "team’s goals" more than their "own" will attain better outcomes time and time again.
Sports teams provide vivid examples of teams that should have won, but didn’t. It's fascinating to see teams with extremely talented people under-perform. The root of the under-performance problem is usually tied to a culture of heroics and egos that are bigger than the team.
For those who are interested in being a better team member or leader, two good books are worth reading that remind us of the importance of “team”:
- The first book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, about a Silicon Valley executive team that is failing to succeed even though the individuals are quite talented. It’s a brilliant story about a new leader who had the bravery and skills to transform a culture, emerging with a hyper focused team working together.
- The second book, Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal, is a recent and captivating story about the dominant and disciplined US military being repeatedly beaten by an inferior enemy in Iraq. What the US team lacked was adaptability, and their rigid reporting hierarchies and cultures made them ineffective and slow. McChrystal wrote his book for a business audience so don't shy away because it's a book about war.
Together these two books arm executives on the cusp of accepting new executive roles, with fresh techniques for quickly transforming their executive teams, and quickly creating a culture that is fun and rewarding for all.