I didn’t do well in high school chemistry class and even worse in college chemistry. But I always marvelled at how a chemical reaction required just the right amount of ingredients in order to occur. Take titration, for example. Add too few drops of one
solution into another and nothing happens. Add too much and the reaction goes overboard. But just the right amount and a unique situation occurs.
Lately I have been working with several senior leadership teams in emerging and developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Within this global industrial company, the APAC region holds the greatest promise for growth and market development and much leadership time, attention and money is being invested in capitalising on these emerging opportunities.
And in order to deliver on the business opportunities, the company is putting some of its brightest and most capable senior executives into General Manager and Brand Leader roles. In addition they are recruiting top talent from peer companies.
The products and brands are world-class, the markets are ripe for development, customers value their products and services, and the world-wide agriculture business is rapidly developing. A great scenario for success, especially with talented and experienced senior leadership.
But something seems to be missing! The desired reaction of business performance is not taking place.
And in such a situation, excuses are everywhere. “The economy has yet to rebound. There’s nothing we can do till the economy picks up. Customers are delaying purchases because of the global uncertainties. We can’t get the investment we need because the corporation is clamping down on costs.”
It’s a funny thing about excuses: the more they increase the more performance decreases.
One of the excuses I often hear in such business situations is: we don’t have time for team building, we need all our time and energy focused on making the numbers.
Navy Seal BUD/S selection and training is an excellent example of the value of team building. Those who finish the 24 week training course are not only physically and mentally fit, but have an ingrained set of teamwork principles that allows them to work together effectively to deliver results.
If Seal teams were put together based on just physical abilities and operational skills, without having the benefits of team building and team principles, their effectiveness would be dramatically reduced. It’s the principles of trust, team, respect and mission that make these teams so effective.
Several years ago, the NBA and other professional sports organisations got the idea that all they needed to do to produce league winners was to recruit the best players. Thus they went searching for and acquiring, often for huge money contracts, the best players. Team salaries soared. But after several decades, it became evident that there is little correlation between team salary and league performance. Here is a chart from the 2014 NBA season.
Today, NBA teams are beginning to focus on team chemistry as opposed to teams of superstars. Team Chemistry can be defined as not the best players, but the right players with the right skills and the right attitudes who play together as a single unit.
I don’t play my eleven best players, I play my best eleven. ~Vince Lombardi
One of my roles in the business scenario I described earlier is to help the country General Managers to build the capabilities of their leadership teams in order to reduce the focus on excuses and to effectively use the talents of the entire team to deliver performance in spite of a difficult global economy. In as little as two or three days you would be amazed at how a team can shift from feeling a “victim” of the economy to feeling empowered and confident about developing new solutions to grow their businesses. Same people, different behaviours. Working together.
There is no excuse for not taking the time to do team building when facing challenging business conditions, when reorganising the business model, when merging two organisations, when implementing a new business strategy, when new senior members come on board.
Talent is important, but teamwork is imperative for results.
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
John also writes thriller novels!