6.3 Team Building – The Power of Relationships

Great teams are built on great relationships among the team members. Relationships enable great teams more powerfully than leaders, though leaders play an essential part. Leaders:

  • share a deeply compelling vision that intrinsically motivates each team member
  • reinforce how the team will work together

There is a natural flow to great teams of individuals when working together, supporting each other on their journey. It is like that of a river flowing down a mountainside. 

Great teams are built on relationships that flow.


Great teams self-organize around a shared vision for the difference they can make together. They support each other on their shared journey in a way that enhances one another’s contributions.

The Power of an Intrinsically-Motivating Shared Vision

Research has shown that a shared vision for the difference the team can make together is the only common factor among successful teams. The Guiding Principles that team members follow, and their acceptable boundaries, vary from team to team. Trust and respect are requirements, but they can look very different in each team.

The team’s Purpose and Vision must be in service of others, and align with our Stage III Fulfillment (Contributing to the Benefit of Others, now) or Stage IV Fulfillment (Legacy – Acting for the Benefit of Others, Although We May Not Live to See the Result).

The leader is responsible for ensuring the team is performing at peak performance, unleashing the intrinsic energy found in their shared vision. Enhancing individual contributions is vital, but that support must be in service of bettering the whole. It is never about any individual alone. Leadership reminders of the shared responsibility in service of something bigger keeps the flow moving in the right direction.

An Unusual Shared Vision – Rocky Flats

In their book Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine share a remarkable story of a hostile unionized workforce that put itself out of work, voluntarily, and far exceeded the goals of the project.

The Challenge

Cleaning up Rocky Flats, America’s most dangerous nuclear weapons production facility, was estimated to cost $36 billion and take over 70 years. For many years, the unionized workers would not cooperate, as they would be putting themselves out of a job. The culture was toxic, and a solution seemed impossible. Kaiser-Hill was hired to tackle this monumental job.

The Response

Kaiser-Hill taught leaders at Rocky Flats how to engage union members in a positive fashion during assessment phase:

  • What is your vision for the future of the site?
  • What role can you play in making that possible?
  • How do we get started? What should we do?

The Result

The workers did put themselves out of work, while saving $30 billion and finishing the project 60 years sooner than estimated. Why? The team responsible for getting the work done shared a vision that was deeply meaningful to them. They felt individual and collective responsibility to serve that vision. Leadership gave the team the chance to own the outcome. In addition, leadership provided respectful outplacement transition support. They did what humankind does when we have a shared vision that benefits something meaningful that is much bigger than ourselves, they were there for each other.

A Team United, Always – Big 10 Champs

In 1969 and then again in 1971, University of Michigan Football teams I was a part won Big Ten Championships. The Big Ten Championship had been achieved only once at Michigan in the previous 19 years. How did that happen in two out of three years?

Clarity of Shared Vision. Coach Bo Schembechler conveyed that we were working for something much bigger than ourselves—we were playing for each other, in service of all who cared about the University of Michigan, as a team, not as individuals.

Regular Reinforcement. The shared vision was reinforced daily, that we were there for something much bigger than anything we could do alone. The lessons and results were life changing for those on the team.

Fostering of Deep, Caring Relationships. The deep, caring relationships we had for each other, built on trust and respect, are still powerful to this day, as both teams reunite every five years, because we still care so deeply about each other.

A Team United, On the Court – The Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons of 1986-1992, known as the Bad Boys, demonstrated how to win as a team, without deep ties and connections with one another off court. The commitment of each team member to the shared vision and purpose of the organization was the essential criterion. They won the NBA Championship twice in a way that captured the attention of the nation. Each player committed to helping the team first, as each had a different role to play in the success, and individually they stayed in their roles; the team success followed.

The Power of Community

 

When we ask athletes, leaders, or exceptionally talented individuals to share their greatest joys, their greatest accomplishment, most respond with team achievements. Seldom does a reflective person share an individual success over a team success. We are wired for long-term survival as a community.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. What role are you playing as a leader to enhance deep connection to a meaningful shared purpose?
  2. Is a clear purpose to contribute to the benefit of others now (Stage III Fulfillment) or to contribute to the benefit of others long-term (legacy; Stage IV Fulfillment) the driving force for your decision making?
  3. What are you doing to build trust in your organization?
  4. Do all members of your team know they are valued as individual contributors to something greater?

 

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.2 Great Team Leaders: Counterintuitive Traits & Practices

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, airlines in the US saw a steep drop in business as many individuals and organizations avoided flying. Like their competitors, management at Southwest Airlines, led by Herb Kelleher, faced tough questions: “How do we reduce our costs by 40% so we can stay in business? People are not flying; what are our options?” Southwest’s management included employees as part of the team crafting an answer; they made the required expense cuts with the team’s input without laying off any employees. Not only did they survive, they thrived when people began to fly again. Southwest came out of the doldrums faster and better than any other airline. In fact, research by Kim Cameron, David Whetten, Jody Hoffer Gittell, and others shows that there is a direct correlation to team input, or ownership in cost reductions, and the downturn recovery. Southwest remains in business today, although several of their competitors from 2001 went out of business or were absorbed by other airlines. Kelleher understood that caring about, and caring for, your people is part of the recipe for sustainable profitability.

The prototype we have come to accept of the leader as someone who must be hard-driving and charismatic is incorrect. The Foundation of Winning components for sustainable success are the same for the team leaders as they are for each of the employees of the organization: Guiding Principles of Deep Caring and Mutual Trust, with a Purpose to serve others are not optional.

Great leaders who succeed over time build trusting and caring relationships, with team members who will go the extra mile for the team. While great leaders can come from a vast spectrum of personality types, there is a triad of traits the best possess and a set of practices they engage in.

The Best Leaders Share These Traits

Humility – Listen, Be Vulnerable

01-Humility

Being humble and showing our vulnerability is an effective way to build trust. The best leaders share that they are responsible for leading the team, but openly acknowledge that they cannot do it alone.

Do I let my team see my vulnerability?

Positivity – Celebrate, Energize, Invigorate

Research has shown that when the ratio of positive to negative comments is greater than 3:1, productivity and revenues go up. Using a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity is a good practice as you work with your team, your family, your community, and yourself. Be good to yourself so you can be good to others.

Is my ratio of my positive comments/compliments to criticisms/questions higher than 3:1?

02-AuthenticityAuthenticity – Be Real, the Team Knows!

Leaders reveal who they are most strikingly in how they react under pressure. Be true to who you are, and apologize if you ever violate one of the team’s Guiding Principles. The admission of being out of bounds will reap trust and respect, given you demonstrate that you are learning.

Am I authentic in sharing who I am?

Positive Practices of Great Leaders

Seek to Learn from those Closest to the Frontline

Those closest to the customer/client/patient/product deal with the challenges that will determine the sustainability of your organization. Listening to the input of your frontline team members builds their commitment, responsibility, and ownership, and the team will grow more powerful, responsive, and proactive.

How well do I value and respect the input of frontline team members?

03-CaringModel Deep Personal Caring – People First 

The heart of any organization is its people. Assets like products, buildings, equipment, or intellectual property will change because of the team members’ actions. It is the investment in people that provides sustainable returns.

How does my team know I love them for what they do for our each other and our team?

Delegate for Growth

Leaders are responsible for moving the organization toward the Shared Vision, and often that means looking at the organization from a larger perspective. Many of our clients use the term “I am caught in the weeds.” As a result, they are not able to see where they are taking the organization because of the little daily problems they are addressing.

Are there responsibilities that I can delegate, freeing time for me to check our organizational compass?

05-ListenBe Open to Purposeful Contributions from Anywhere

Successful teams are built when individuals make meaningful contributions to the Purpose of the organization, when they feel like owners. Asking each team member for their input on improving the organization creates several building blocks for a sustainable future, including employees who can think for themselves and drive initiatives to conclusion.

How open am I to critical input from others, including from those further down the ranks?

Be Open to the Heretics

The larger an organization, the more reinforcing systems are installed to keep it stable, but we grow by trying things in new ways, not by doing things the same way all the time. It is the heretics who provide growth opportunities for organizations, who lead transformational change, rather than those who never question why. Heretics may surface a more effective, efficient, and fun path for the journey to your shared Vision.

Am I open to those who may look like heretics at first?

Close the Performance Gap

04-GapThe “Closing the Performance Gap” diagram in Blog post 5.4 demonstrates the gap between current performance and 100% peak performance; it is the responsibility of leadership to close it.

What are the performance gaps of my direct reports, and do we have a plan for strategic growth initiatives to close them?

 

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.1 GREAT TEAMS: CORE IDENTITY ESSENTIALS

 

Sculptor Jane DeDecker captured the essence of the message University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center has for all visitors. This larger-than-life-size statue captures a caregiver and patient caring for and trusting each other on the journey they are about to pursue together.

A Shared Core Identity

What is it that enables highly competent individuals to integrate into great teams and thrive naturally? It is only with the support of others that our competency can be utilized as a part of something bigger than ourselves. A set of individuals create a team that shares a Core Identity. We will share a few of the fundamental requirements for great teams to thrive.

In the simplest of terms, a great team has a Core Identity built upon two essential Guiding Principles: Deep Caring and Mutual Trust in service of others. Organizations may select the words that best represent how they like to be treated and like to treat others, but they must relate to and include these two principles. We have experienced working with organizations that failed to have one or both, and despite our efforts, they are no longer in existence.


 

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” – Margaret Wheatley


Guiding Principle Requirements: Caring and Trust

Deep Caring

Diversity People Huddle Teamwork Union ConceptLove may be the basis of this Guiding Principle, but may not be politically correct in your business world. Deep Caring surfaces our need to be cared about, to be respected, to give and receive compassion and empathy. The “deep caring” concept lives around a feeling of loving and being loved in context of what provides a secure and safe environment.

Stories of Deep Caring from our Clients

These are examples from clients of what their organization has looked like at its best when deep caring was exemplified. They touch our hearts, and we do not forget when we have witnessed the Guiding Principle of Deep Caring in action under pressure.

  • One of our team members was diagnosed with cancer last year. She chose to follow a non-traditional method. We have held fundraisers to help her pay for everything insurance didn’t cover.
  • (From a third-generation employee) My grandmother had a baby, and when Grandpa went to pay the bill, he found that the president of our company had already paid the bill.
  • Our owner took time for a customer who could barely come up with the deposit for a $10K purchase, while a much larger customer waited for him. All customers are important and that is how we treat everyone.
  • We sponsor Christmas for an underprivileged school. T-shirts, breakfast and lunch, gifts, and for some, family gifts; 40 team members participated. We end up feeling like the beneficiaries.
  • I was young and stupid and got into trouble, and the company helped me get through the tough times. I would be in real trouble if it were not for the company.

Mutual Trust 

TRUST process business concept diagram presentation backgroundOrganizations can select other words that defines their journey that promote flow in organizations and relationships. Once again, we are seeking the sense of safety and security that words like Integrity, Honesty, and Responsibility also describe.

In our work, we like the word ‘trust” because it is both the name for the concept and the action that results from building it. Trust must be continually earned, and can be lost anytime. This Guiding Principle, once compromised, questioned, or violated can become irreparable (e.g., scandals and disasters at Enron, AIG, BP, Exxon), or take generations to forget or forgive. As leaders, we need to understand the responsibility of continually earning trust through our actions.

Stories of Deep Trust from our Clients

These stories of Trust instill a feeling you are in a safe place where your back is covered, even when you do make a mistake.

  • Our customers trust us, they want us to succeed, they give us competitor pricing. They do not do this with our competitors.
  • The president’s open communication on what happened, and how we were going to overcome the challenges. It meant a great deal to many of us.
  • A service company delivered a truck with wallet left in the cab. We immediately returned the wallet to the rental company, who then returned it to the owner.
  • Our team started a trust-building meeting to communicate openly on the good, the bad, and the ugly among us. It is making us a stronger team.
  • We sold a customer a flawed design that failed. We stepped up and fixed it, and continue to support each other today. They could have left us with a massive bill for the failure, but did not, because we made it right.

 


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


A Deeply Meaningful Purpose in Service of Others

These two Guiding Principles, when in service of a deeply meaningful Purpose that contributes to the benefit of others, attract the right team members, and produce sustainable success. As shared in Blog 4.1, the Purpose is not to be self-serving, rather focused on gaining the joy of being a part of a team that has made a difference. As Margaret Meade points out, it is a community’s shared commitment to a deeply meaningful purpose that makes significant accomplishments possible.

When you build your Foundation of Winning on that simple platform of a Deeply Meaningful Purpose for benefit others—with Guiding Principles of Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—you will be on your way to building a sustainably profitable organization.

Like all Guiding Principles, these two—Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—are how we like to be treated and how we like to treat others. They are not constituency-dependent: they must apply to all we connect with, all the time, especially when under pressure. It will be the stories of exemplification and violation that will more accurately define what is meant by the words. When under stress, team members will remember the stories of what we look like when at our best, not the words on the wall. In time, the words remind us of stories, and the stories become feelings that will guide actions for future decision making.

The Biological Impact of these Two Guiding Principles

Feelings we experience from being in an environment that is caring and where trust is felt have a biological base. The chemical serotonin is activated when we feel valued and proud, and when we look out for others. This trusting and caring environment inspires us to feel a responsibility to look out for each other, with no expectation of something in return. When we do this, others in turn look out for us, and it becomes a circular and reinforcing system that promotes a safe place to live and work.

Another hormone, oxytocin, is activated when we experience friendship, trust, and physical touch, and it reinforces positive relationships and trust. It can be activated through acts of kindness, including simple gestures that demonstrate deeper caring, with deep meaning.

An abundant mentality touches both Caring and Trust. A key component of the Foundation of Winning is a positive and abundant mentality. Oxytocin fosters the generosity found in those with abundant mindsets, and it can even be activated by witnessing acts of kindness. Think about your responsibility as a leader understanding the impact you have as others witness your actions. What acts are being witnessed by your team? Are they serotonin and/or oxytocin creating?

Studies have shown that serotonin can contribute to extending life. We live longer when we live and work in environments that feel safe, secure, and protected. As leaders, we need to own the responsibility for enhancing the lives of our team members, while creating an environment that attracts team members who desire to attain greatness for sustainably-profitable organizations.

 Leadership Questions

  1. What does it mean to you as a leader to have an impact on the life of your team members?
  2. How clearly is trust found and exemplified in your organization?
  3. How clearly is caring lived and exemplified in your organization?
  4. Do you share stories that exemplify trust and/or caring in your organization?

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.0 EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS – AN INTRODUCTION

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I have been privileged to spend 20 years in the consulting business and 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. My work has revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to my life experiences.

blog6-0-1-teambuilding

My wife is convinced that the teams I played football with for University of Michigan have reunions every year. Not true. The 1969 and 1971 Big Ten Championship teams under Coach Bo Schembechler have met every five years since the ten-year reunion, for a total of sixteen reunions so far; another is coming up soon. We brought national recognition to the university and earned trips to play in the Rose Bowl. Although we did not win the bowl games, the bond we forged on these teams has transcended details about who started, who was the star, who was walk-on, who was fast, and who was slow. Was it our success that brought us together, or was it our closeness that made us successful?

An Overview of the Building Blocks

In the Section 6 blog posts, we will explore the elements required to build exceptional teams. For many people, success while on a team has deep meaning, whether from being part of a band, orchestra, or department that excelled.

Core Identity Requirements

There is a biological basis for the depth of meaning that comes from participating in a group effort that possesses a caring and trusting environment: serotonin and oxytocin are activated, and in turn, deepen and reinforce the positive experience. We will describe this phenomenon further in our next blog post, which focuses on the Core Identity Requirements for great teams.

A Team is Only as Good as Its Leader

In blog post 6.2, we will describe the traits of great team leaders, who create and foster the culture that determines the success of the team. Over the years, we have learned that there is no single personality type of successful leader. In my early days as an athletics administrator, if there was a coaching position to fill, I thought we should pursue dynamic and inspirational individuals. I came to realize, there is no correlation between a loud and charismatic leader and team success. This is as true in business as it is in athletics. Today, the focus of our practice is building leaders who intrinsically energize their teams to realize a shared vision, regardless of their natural behavior. That ability can come from the quiet, calm thinker as easily as from the more dynamic and expressive individual, if their heart is for the organization’s vision.

Techniques and Tools

In blog post 6.3, we will look at techniques for relationship building, and in 6.4, we will introduce the Team Survey we use to assess how strong a team you may possess.

An Iconic Description of The Team

For now, I’d like to share Bo Schembechler’s iconic and inspiring message on “The Team” — it is his only publicly recorded talk to his University of Michigan Football teams.

“We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a Team. They can throw out all those great backs, and great quarterbacks, and great defensive players, throughout the country and in this conference, but there’s gonna be one Team that’s gonna play solely as a Team.

No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team, and if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team? Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team. We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team.

We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other! And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.”

It has been enlightening, exciting, and enriching for me to learn that the principles we refined for the most successful athletic teams applied as well to teams in all organizations.  The Foundation of Winning Principles and Disciplines are how humankind was designed to work together; and as leaders, we need to understand them and how they support each other. Whether for survival or for winning, how we want to work together as a team for sustainable success is the same. We will share them with you in the Team Blogs in the next few weeks.

Leadership Questions

  1. When have you had the experience of being part of a successful team? What did that feel like?   What do you think made that possible?
  2. What is more important in your organization: team success or Individual success? Where does the most attention go toward in your organization?
  3. What are the characteristics of some of the best team leaders you have known?

5.4 Closing the Performance Gap

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I have been privileged to spend 20 years in the consulting business and 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. My work has revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to my life experiences.

blog-5-4-1-footballCoaches of sports teams have the Performance Gap in mind at all times: the most obvious metric is the difference between wins and losses! There is a Performance Gap for each team member, too — it is the difference between the level they are performing at, and what the team needs to achieve peak performance. Orchestra conductors and film directors have similar metrics for tracking success, including tickets sales, critical response, and awards won. In any of these fields, the leader must foster and elicit the best performance possible, and seek the greatest improvement possible from each group or team member; this is what builds their reputations as great leaders, not what they themselves achieve.

Like their counterparts in sports and the performing arts, business leaders must mentor their direct reports towards the goal of reaching Peak Performance. Fostering and facilitating closing the Performance Gap between Peak Performance for the job versus the individual’s current performance is a critical leadership responsibility. 

The Performance Gap in Business

blog-5-4-2-singersThe peak productivity capacity of each organization — what we call 100% Performance Capacity — is, of course, subject to market variables an organization’s leader cannot control. Leaders can, however, continually improve team member performance to achieve 100% Production Capacity for a given market environment.  Leaders can close the Performance Gap between what team members are currently producing and the best they could produce on a sustainable basis.

The fast pace of change in today’s business environment makes this particularly difficult. It highlights the need for organizations to recruit and retain individuals who are flexible enough to adapt and change, and to have leaders who can invest in each team member on their personal journey to peak performance.

Assessing the Performance Gap

blog-5-4-3-chart

How much attention do you pay to the Performance Gap for your team members?

 

blog-5-4-4-scorecardOrganizational Peak Performance is possible only when each team member achieves Job Peak Performance. Each team member is measured on a Peak Performance Scorecard, which compares the Peak Performance Standard for the job to the member’s Current Performance to yield the Performance Gap; regular and accurate assessments of this differential are essential.

 The Importance of Buy-In from the Team Member

Closing the Performance Gap is a contract between the team member and the leader; it identifies the components that are most important to the team member to address.  These identified Performance Gap Components are selected from the three areas of the Peak Performance Scorecard.  We will discuss techniques for closing gaps in these areas in the upcoming Foundations of Winning book.  For now, we can provide links to blog posts about each area:

blog-5-4-5-bikeWhy focus on what the team member, rather than the leader, feels needs addressing most?  We find that some Performance Gaps, once understood by the team member, touch them personally. This resonance energizes them to address the issues more naturally, with less stress. Building on this initial success, the team member can more easily move on to closing the remaining Performance Gaps. A caveat: if the team member does not recognize the obvious, non-negotiable performance gaps, they may be a poor fit for the job, or for the organization.

blog-5-4-b-humancap

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. Do you currently measure and review performance for each of your reports?
  2. Is this a continual and on-going disciplined process?
  3. Have you asked your direct report what would mean most to them to improve?
  4. Do you participate in the growth journey of your direct report?
  5. Do you regularly review the performance improvement initiatives your direct report is working on?
  6. What is the importance of growing each team member to peak performance?

5.3 Job Behavioral Fit

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to the life experiences. 


What behaviors do the peak performers at your organization have in common?

We have shared the importance of Organizational Cultural Fit and Job Competency Fit and how they contribute to Peak Performance. The last component of the Performance Evaluation Equation is Behavioral Fit.

Job Behavioral Requirements

A unique inventory of behavioral requirements for the job is required before interviewing for a new hire.  While it’s imperative that a surgeon and a police officer each function well under pressure, the nature of the pressure each faces is different and so is the optimum response for each.
For employees already in the fold, they need to understand what appropriate behavior for the job looks like. Once known, and compliance has been assessed, we need strategies for coaching them to adjust their behaviors to match better with the requirements for Peak Performance. Reviewing the behavioral profiles of highly-successful past incumbents is an excellent beginning when creating or modifying the behavioral requirements for a particular job. And each of us must honestly appraise our own behavioral bias in performing our jobs for peak performance, as we move along our career path.

blog5-3-2-equation The Sweet Spot: Job Comfort

Last Puzzle PieceJob comfort describes the level of compatibility between an individual’s behavioral profile and behavioral requirements for the job. A high level of job comfort correlates with less effort, because we are doing what comes naturally. A low level of job comfort requires much more energy to sustain high performance, as we fight our natural tendencies. People tend to underperform and leave jobs where a low behavioral match results in low job comfort.  In addition, there is a greater chance of mistakes being made when under pressure when we have poor job behavior fit. 

Fundamental Requirements – Positive Energy and Passion

Positive Energy

Do you have people in your organization whclimbing team silhouetteo you look forward to working with because of their positive energy? R
esearch by Rob Cross, Wayne Baker, and Andrew Parker shows that, “Not only are energizers better performers themselves, but people who are strongly connected to an energizer are also better performers.” There is a direct correlation to return in assets with positive energy.

Passion for Your Job

blog5-3-4-hardhatsThere may be no greater contributor to success in life and in our jobs than that of passion. It is our drive, our commitment, our love of the work we do and its greater impact that intrinsically brings us energy. Early in FS&A’s development of the Peak Performance Equation, this component was not explicitly present; we thought it was covered in Cultural Fit as part of the individual’s alignment with the organization’s purpose. When I shared the Peak Performance Equation with real estate developer Steve Ross, for whom the Michigan Ross School of Business is named, he liked it, but added, “You are missing the most important ingredient in success: Passion!”  There is no substitute for an unwavering commitment to something you believe deeply in. It is now a part of the Behavioral component of the Peak Performance Equation, and has been helpful when deciding on whom to hire, and to promote, for our clients.

Four Additional Behaviors to Assess

It is vital that we understand how an individual acts and reacts in a variety of scenarios.  No two of us are the same, and understanding your own natural behavior will aid you, as a leader, to act and react responsibly.  In addition, you will gain a deeper respect and understanding for the natural behavior of others, which will in turn enhance your relationships.

For job candidates (and yourself!), consider the four behaviors, shown in the table below, on a continuum.

blog5-3-5-table

Summary

There are no right or wrong behaviors, profiles, or reports for greatness, as each has its own strengths and benefits. We like to say that each of us is weird in our unique way, and that is a good thing! Every person is unique, as is every job. As an individual has natural behaviors, especially under pressure, each job has a behavioral requirement for peak performance. The better the behavioral fit, the less stress a person will be under when doing the job day after day, especially when under pressure. Who we are is expressed most clearly when we are under pressure, when the rational thinking brain is least engaged. This is when the wrong people in the wrong seats make mistakes at a cost of millions of dollars, or even the lives of people they are responsible for.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

 As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What are your own natural behavioral tendencies?
  • How can you better understand the natural behavioral tendencies of each of your team members?
  • How can you attract candidates who have the proper Behavioral Fit for a given job in your organization?
  • Are you looking at why individuals conduct themselves the way they do, more than how they conduct themselves?

 

5.0 Fit for Peak Performance

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo possessed, but Bo may be referenced more than others as he was the one I witnessed executing the disciplines most.


 

Phenomenally beautiful and picturesque garden for walks and supervision over flowers and treesCreating a flourishing garden requires matching a set of complementary plants to optimal soil, light, water, and climate conditions. Organizations are the same: in order to thrive and flourish, the organization’s culture must nourish each team member, supporting them in service of something bigger than themselves.

 

 

The Peak Performance Evaluation Equation

In the next few blog posts, we will share the three components of fit for an individual in an organization and their job; Cultural Fit in the organization has the heaviest weight based upon our findings.  Don McMillan and several other veteran executive coaches we collaborate with at FSA developed this Peak Performance Evaluation Equation:

Blog-5-0-Equation

Warren Buffett’s philosophy on hiring the right people illustrates this same concept:

Blog-5-0-Buffet“In looking for someone to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity (culture fit), intelligence (competency fit) and energy (behavioral fit),” said Buffet. “But the most important is integrity, because if they don’t have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you.”

 

Why Cultural Fit?

Organizations thrive when each individual has the opportunity for peak performance.  Like plants, they need the right environment and nurturing to thrive.  The study of athletic teams made it clear that teams with the most five-star players do not necessarily win.  There is a shared purpose, a respect and trBlog-5-0-CompValuesust in each other, that is more important than the innate talent of the individual players.  Michigan State University’s current head football coach, Mark Dantonio, exemplifies this concept well: he recruits many good—but not five-star—players who form a cohesive team and win at unprecedented levels. Clearly, they are seeking something more subjective than talent in those they desire to be a part of their team. He is the first football coach in Big Ten Conference history to win at least 11 games in a season 5 out of 6 years. Blog 5.1 will take the discussion of Cultural fit further.

The Importance of Competency Fit

While we have emphasized the importance of Cultural Fit a great deal, we do so because most leaders value Competency Fit as the most important—and often the only—criterion in hiring.  That said, Competency does matter, and it has three components:Blog-5-0-potters

  1. Talent: Natural and innate; a raw material we can develop
  2. Skill: Abilities gained or learned on our growth journey
  3. Knowledge: The continually growing base that informs our decision making

Where and how an individual developed their talent, skills, and knowledge will also affect their level of competency: excelling at a challenging school, earning the interest of an exceptional mentor, and seeing through a difficult project are examples of experiences that augment competency, and past performance in other jobs will also shed light on their competency.  We will dig deeper into Competency Fit Assessment in Blog 5.2.

The Role of Behavioral Fit

Have you ever dreaded working with someone, even though they were talented and highly competent? Whatever the quality of their work, dealing with their inappropriate behavior was too high a price to pay.  There are many behavior assessment tools that can aid in gaging how an individual’s behavior patterns fit with the behavior required for the job. Individual behaviors are generally assessed for peak performance in these categories:

  • PrimBlog-5-0-HandUpary categories: risk taking, sociability, calmness, and detail orientation.
  • Additional categories: positivity, energy, and a passion for the organization’s purpose

Hiring “right people” – the ones who fit with their jobs in terms of competency and behavior and with
the culture of the organization, enables individuals to achieve peak performance.  And individual peak performance in service of the organization brings the organization closer to its peak performance, our ultimate goal. We will share more on this in Blog 5.3. 

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • In our organization, are we giving too much weight to Competency Fit and too little to Organizational Culture Fit? What consideration do we give to Behavioral Fit?
  • What metrics do we use to assess Cultural Fit?
  • What steps can we take to create a standard for peak performance for each of the three Performance Components, so as to benefit team members in their growing?

Upcoming Blog Posts:

  • 5.1 Performance Component #1 – Culture Fit
  • 5.2 Performance Component #2 – Job Competency Fit
  • 5.3 Performance Component #3 – Job Behavioral Fit
  • 5.4 Summary – Right People/Organization Fit

4.4 Core Identity: Pulling It All Together

For those new to this series . . .

This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the program clients have found aids them in achieving peak performance.  The FOW is composed of three Principles of Humankind and four Disciplines of Leadership.  Together, they are the pillars that support enduring meaningful and purposeful success. 

I was privileged to spend 25 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 4 years on the Michigan Football Team, and 11 years working with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo every day revealed there is much more to long-term success than competency. Many of the concepts that comprise the Foundation of Winning were developed from experiences with Bo, who was one of our nation’s natural leaders.

“I want to thank you for reintroducing me to the man I thought I married.”
                                                                                                                     – The spouse of one of our clients

Blog4-4-First&BestThis recognition is a powerful testimony to the effectiveness of the work we do in helping each client clarify their personal Core Identity. The process enables leaders to be more effective not only at work, but at home as well. This is possible due to the stabilizing effect of knowing oneself, acknowledging both strengths and imperfections.

Our security in who we are and the confidence with which we move through life comes from a deep understanding of our Core Identity — Who we are when we are at our best.

Blog4-4-TimeToBeBestEach of us can be undermined by our own individual sense of insecurity, and it can be further exacerbated by the feeling that others are far more confident and secure.  It is ironic that in any given group of individuals, all of them may feel this same way! Every leader we have worked with has shared or demonstrated self-doubt; a lofty title and position does not grant a sense of security. It is through a deeper understanding of the personal Core Identity that one becomes a better leader. Natural greatness is in each of us if we stop trying to be someone else, and instead be the best self we can be, with purpose.

The Components of Core Identity

In the previous blog posts in Section Four, we examined the components of your Core Identity, starting in post 4.0 with an Overview, and then moving on to the components:

Now, we can consider Core Identity holistically, and put these parts to work together. As we get better at honoring who we are meant to be, we like and respect ourselves more and more. The journey to a deeper understanding of who we are uniquely meant to be frees us from the insecurity of comparing our own achievements and acquisitions with those of others.  As we mature and move on from the quest for Comparative Accomplishment that is the hallmark of Stage II Fulfillment, we appreciate Contributing for the Benefit of Others found in Stage III Fulfillment.

Journaling: A Powerful, Essential Practice

Blog4-4-JournalingThis is also a great time to re-visit the power of journaling, a practice recommended in blog post 1.4, The Picture that Precedes Luck. Many of the people I admire and respect journal regularly, and most are remarkably successful.  Their lives seem to possess a deeper integrity, and a sense that they are wholly who they are meant to be. They have stable minds that can make smart decisions with less stress than others.  I know I feel that way on the days I journal: life just seems to be more focused and strategically purposeful. The day feels so meaningful.

Consider this question in your own journal:

Of the people I most admire and respect, what part of their Core Identity means most to me—their Purpose, their Vision, or one of their Guiding Principles? 

Your answers will touch on who you are meant to be: that which you respect in them is also most naturally in you. This kind of reflection is an important step in taking responsibility for your own life, and to see the path that will bring energy into your life to be your best self.

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • Do I take the time to seek a deeper understanding of those who I admire and respect? What components of their Core Identity may also be mine?
  • Do I take responsibility for my life and my destination, and for who I am when at my best?
  • Do I challenge my team members to take responsibility for their lives, and provide them support on their journey of discovery?
  • Have I given journaling a chance to aid me in my “at my best” development?