Position the Team as the Unit of Performance

Brian Crowley, TAB Ireland

Most job applicants will  list ‘team player’ as one of their strengths. But how true is this in reality?

Benchmark yourself against the following:

  • Are you prepared to stretch time lines to achieve buy in from key stakeholders?
  • Do you really listen and allow yourself to be influenced by the views of others?
  • Do you appreciate the impact on motivation and on the quality of outcomes of including others in the decision making process?
  • Do you genuinely seek to build inclusive teams where divergent views are accommodated?

Undue weight is often attributed to the efforts of an individual in business success stories. It is true that individual creativity, passion and determination is the spark needed to establish a new enterprise or to drive a new initiative. However, if you look closely you will find no evidence that sustained success can be achieved by an individual who is not surrounded by and influenced by a strong team.

‘Dominant’  individuals who achieve long term success know, appreciate and acknowledge the input of others in achieving that success. They know that success is a team effort and that the team is the unit of performance.

This is hardly surprising as it requires a whole range of different skills to build a sustainable business, which are unlikely to be possessed by one individual. An examination of business failures usually has a weakness in one or more skill sets as a contributory factor. A balanced approach to risk taking is also required for long term success and recognising and mitigating key risks is an important function of well balanced empowered teams.

Undoubtedly different styles of leadership are appropriate to different situations. There may be no option but to adopt a ‘telling’ style in a crisis, for instance, but only as a short term expedient. Those entrepreneurs who have experienced some success need to be especially aware of the need to build effective teams. The recent recession has shown us that there is a fine line between positive self belief and destructive arrogance.

While positioning teams as the unit of performance will not guarantee long term success it is surely not possible without it.