Friday, September 21, 2012

high performance teams

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to sit in on a round table discussion of C-suite executives talking about high performance teams.  This round table was facilitated by Texas CEO Magazine, edited by Pat Niekamp and Karin Maake.  Through a serious of fortunate events, I was invited to "listen in" and gain wisdom from a group of people including executives from National Instruments, CacheIQ, HomeAway, The Leadership Refinery and others.  The hour went by incredibly fast as I sipped coffee and furiously took notes.  Here are but a few of the gems I gained from their wisdom and experience:

  • sometimes executives need to make an individual decision rather than involve the team because its faster and better (and good executives know the difference)
  • high performance team members all share a passion for the customer
  • high performance teams know their purpose - in other words, they know what they are to do
  • high performance teams are able to create what one participant called "creative abrasion" - leading to more and better ideas
  • where political agendas outweigh the purpose of the team, there you will find a toxic team
  • high performance teams have a leader who know how to create a high performance team
  • "perfection is demotivating - excellence is highly motivating"
  • task accountability is easy... relationship accountability is hard
  • if Michael Jordan walked into your business, would you know it?  and would you hire him (even if a position did not exist for him)?
I have the honor and privilege of working for what I consider to be a high performing team.  Twice in the last month they have helped me in making decisions that affected the College of Business.  They have listened closely to the issue at hand, they have debated back and forth the sides of the issue, they shared their personal feelings, they considered the mission and vision of the College, they have come up with new ideas, they argued back and forth a bit, and they just plain gave great advice.  Each time we walked away from the meeting feeling better about the team, better about the mission and vision of the College, and better about the decision.  I owe much to Elise, Lynette, Shane and Wayne for their expertise, their guidance, their honesty, and their willingness to engage at such a high level.  

So here's a quick question to consider as you think about the various teams on which you serve: don't ask whether or not you are a high performing team...rather ask do we know what our purpose is and does what happens at our meetings seem to move that purpose forward?  At least that is a start to knowing whether or not you are on a high performing team. 

Finally , Patrick Lencioni's newest book, The Advantage, provides a wonderful picture of what a high performing team should look like.  I recommend it highly and encourage you to buy it today!

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