Last week I discussed your commitment as an Extreme Global Leader and challenged you to build an Extreme Team, not just dream about having one. This week I am going to challenge you further – to focus in on the development of four critical dimensions that your Extreme Team must have: 1) the ability to think insightfully about complex issues as a group; 2) innovative, coordinated action; 3) a significant impact on other teams; 4) strong coaching and adequate practice time.
There is a real and present need for global teams to think insightfully, and creatively, about complex issues. I was recently speaking with Robert Hargrove, one of the most prominent CEO Coaches in the world, and we were discussing how organizations had changed in the past 20 years. One key component to our conversation was teams and how complex success in organizations had become. It is no longer enough for a leader to present a business case to his boss or lobby the Board of Directors for funding for a large project with no accountability to deliver – S/he must have a team that can drive Extreme Results. This requires the team to be insightful and innovative enough to look at possibilities from every angle, leveraging the expertise and excellence of every team member in order to explore and exploit every opportunity. Teams must learn how to tap the potential of many minds so that the sum of the whole is more intelligent than a single intellect. This is an obvious deduction to make, however there are significant, less evolved, forces at work in organizations that are eager to make the collective intelligence of the team “less than”, rather than “greater than”, the intelligence of the individual – you will always have competitors with alternative interests.
Innovative, coordinated action on the part of a team, much less an organization, has the potential to be the equivalent of winning the Gold at the X Games. Championship sports teams provide excellent metaphors for acting in spontaneous, yet coordinated, ways. Extreme Teams in organizations develop the same dynamic – “operational trust” is the “X” factor – a condition where each player remains conscious of the other team members and can be counted on to act in such a way to enhance the overall outcome.
Also critical, is the role of your Extreme Team players on other teams. The reality is that a great deal of the time, actions of senior teams are actually carried out through other teams. As such, Extreme Teams have the capability to continually cultivate ongoing learning through their involvement on other teams. If the individual player can understand and embrace the complexity of the Extreme Team, they have the ability to transfer the learning in such a way that it permeates through to additional teams they are involved with – creating a coalition of Extreme Teams throughout the organization.
Extreme Team learning is above all else, a collective discipline that requires ongoing practice and Extreme Coaching. Unfortunately, teams in organizations today often lack the extreme leadership of a value-add coach, as well as the opportunity to move between the practice field and the playing field. Imagine a championship sports team with no Head Coach and without the ability to practice. There is little likelihood the team will get to the final game in the World Cup if they are out there playing together for the first time, with no ability to align themselves, correct misperceptions and mistakes, and respond to insightful and knowledgeable coaching. The reality is that the mechanism used to create winning teams is the ability to learn together and leverage the collective intellect. The ability to win the big game requires continual movement between the practice field and the playing field, as well as an Extreme Coach that will facilitate Extreme Team advancement to the Big Game. There is little opportunity for this team to emerge without a balance between strong coaching, practice, and leveraged play time.
Challenge: What are YOU going to do to facilitate and leverage EXTREME TEAMS in your organization?