For the past couple of weeks, I have been discussing the virtues of Extreme Leaders. However, the truth is that we cannot be Extreme Leaders on our own – in most instances we depend on people to facilitate the achievement of our goals. As you strive to become an Extreme Leader, you will come to realize (if you haven’t already) that your people will determine whether or not you win at the great game of business. The question then becomes: Are you going to dream of what it would be like to have a team that works well together, executes across boundaries & borders, and produces Extreme Results OR are you going to build an Extreme Team that does all of that and more?
You can attempt to build your Extreme Team by design and by talent, but you will likely fail. You may put together a team of specialists, but that will not create what you need to win. Performance depends on both individual excellence and on how well the team works together. It is not friendship that creates an Extreme Team – it is a different kind of team relationship. It is a concept known as “alignment” – when a group of people understand the unique value of each player and leverage that value to function as a cohesive whole. In most teams the energies of the individual players work at cross purposes – the fundamental characteristic being wasted energy. Everyone may work exceptionally hard, but the efforts do not translate to an Extreme Team delivering extreme results.
In contrast, when a team becomes aligned, a commonality of direction emerges, and individual efforts synchronize with the whole. Synergy evolves – there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and an inherent understanding of how to leverage one another’s talents. The individual player does not sacrifice his/her personal desire to score to the larger team vision; rather the shared vision becomes an extension of the personal vision. Alignment is a necessary component in building your Extreme Team – empowering the team will empower the individual players.
Extreme Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacity of the team to create the winning results the team strives for. It builds on the discipline of developing shared vision. It also builds on personal mastery: talented teams are made up of talented individuals. But the bottom line is that shared vision and talent are not enough to create an Extreme Team. The world is full of talented teams who share a vision for awhile, yet they fail to learn and grow together and ultimately fail to win. Extreme sports team champions have talent and a shared vision, but what really matters is that the team knows how to play together – Extreme Teams in organizations are no different.
There has never been a greater need for the development of Extreme Teams in organizations than there is today. Almost all important decisions are now made in teams – directly or through the need for teams to translate individual decisions into organizational actions. If Extreme Teams are developed with focus and intent on learning to excel as a cohesive unit, organizational insights are gained that can be translated into extreme results. Skills are developed that can propagate and motivate other teams to be extreme. Most of all, the Extreme Team’s accomplishments can set the tone and establish a standard of excellence for the larger organization. So, what will it be? Dream Team or Extreme Team?