Over the course of the coming year you will notice several different forms of content on my site. Friday will be a day I focus on building high performance teams and organizations.Today, my friend Mark Miller has written the following guest post as an answer to the difference between the two. His post helps me as I wrestle with the need for increased capacity, which I wrote about here yesterday. Mark has been leading teams for decades and he has written widely on the subject. His book, The Secret of Teams is a must read if you are charged with leading a group.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: TEAM VS. ORGANIZATION?
Today’s question comes from a leader who is familiar with some of my past work, specifically, The Secret of Teams and Chess Not Checkers. If you are not, here’s a really quick overview: one is about the power of teams and the other is about the largely untapped potential resident in our organizations at large. The question from this leader: “How are the two ideas connected?”
For many years, I had not even considered the connection. My initial efforts were to help leaders who were struggling with capacity issues. Let me explain.
Let’s establish an imaginary scale to represent an individual leader’s capacity. To make the math easy, let’s set that at 100 units of leadership or 100 ul.
As long as the business or organization requires less than 100 ul, everything is great. Then one day, due to increasing complexity, volume, or customer demands, the business need for leadership surpasses the capacity of the individual leader. The new level required is now 120 ul.
Many of you have been here. Your first reaction may have been to work harder. That may increase your leadership capacity to 110 or 115, but your health, your family, and your quality of life begin to suffer – and you realize it is still not enough.
Ultimately, if you don’t address this leadership capacity shortfall, you will become the lid on your organization. That’s when many leaders decide a leadership team would be helpful. And if built and led well, it will! That’s the topic of The Secret of Teams.
With a High Performance Team, your collective leadership capacity may reach 500 ul. At this point life is good… for a while. Then, for any number of reasons – success, unexpected hardship, or just sheer complexity, the demands of your business increase again beyond the capacity of you and your leadership team. Let’s say the new level of demand is 1000 ul. What should a leader do?
My recommendation is to change the game. Rather than continuing to focus on leadership capacity alone, begin to pursue organizational capacity as well. This will require a transformation in thinking and action. This new strategy, to build and sustain a High Performance Organization, becomes the on-going job description of your leadership team. This is the journey I outline in Chess Not Checkers.
So, to my friend who started this post with a question, High Performance Teams create the capacity needed to build a High Performance Organization. Keep in mind, neither are the end goal – both are strategies to ensure sustained superior performance.
Enjoy the journey!