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Shared Vision: Do Others See What You See?

March 4, 2018

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When we talk about shared vision, we don’t mean an idea. Instead, we’re referring to a force that is in people’s hearts. Peter Senge states: “When people truly share a vision they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration. Personal visions derive their power from an individual’s deep caring for the vision.”

Shared vision is an essential component of a learning organization because it provides the focus and energy for learning. The underlying force is the desire by people to create and accomplish something. And the bedrock, as Senge calls it, for developing shared visions is personal mastery.

Shared vision emerges from personal visions, and this is how energy is formed and commitment created. Managers must therefore walk a fine line when they express their own visions. To master the discipline of building shared vision requires that managers understand that visions are not announced from the top or that they come from strategic planning processes.

The traditional approach to creating a vision for the organization has largely failed in most organizations because employees have been unable to connect with the vision developed by management. In other words, the vision that’s communicated to employees has not built on the personal visions of others. They’re not enrolled in the vision. The consequence has typically been apathy and a lack of energy on the part of people.

Of course visions can, and indeed should, be conceived by senior managers. But senior management must realize that their vision can’t be considered ‘shared’ until others in the organization feel part of it. Their personal visions must connect with the larger vision.

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Building shared vision requires daily effort by managers. It must be a central part of their work. And they need to remember that the visions they develop are still their personal visions. As Senge asserts: “Just because they occupy a position of leadership does not mean that their personal visions are automatically the organization’s vision.”
Creating shared vision goes hand-in-hand with systems thinking.

The latter enables people to understand what and how the organization has created. Vision portrays what people want to create. Because most managers don’t experience that they’re contributing to their current reality, they have great difficulty in seeing how they can contribute to changing it. They see their problems as being caused by the system or by external factors.

This attitude, as Senge explains, “…can be elusive to pin down because in many organizations the belief ‘We cannot create our own future’ is so threatening that it can never be acknowledged.” To be a good manager (or leader) means that you are in charge of your own future. A manager (or non-manager for that matter) who openly questions the organization’s ability to accomplish what it’s attempting is quickly labeled as being not on board or as rocking the boat. The underlying cause for this occurrence is that organizations tend to be dominated by linear thinkers instead of systems thinkers.

This leads us to the final discipline: team learning. As we’ll see, team learning is all about ‘alignment’ and getting people working in synch with one another. This is where creating shared vision can be a powerful force.

The medium of leadership is the energy of other people.
 –– Dick Richards

Next post: Team Learning


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Mental Models: How Do YOU Perceive the World…and Why?

February 25, 2018

Mental Models

Each of us carries our own sets of assumptions, views and prejudices that affect how we interact with others. While we often attempt to deny certain views or prejudices we hold, it’s difficult to maintain this stance when our actions are not consistent with our words. Chris Argyris explains: “Although people do not always behave congruently with their espoused theories (what they say), they do behave congruently with their theories-in-use (their mental models).”

Our mental models strongly affect what we do because they affect what we see. As Albert Einstein put it: “Our theories determine what we measure.”

From a management perspective, mental models are extremely important because of the associated consequences, whether good or bad. Therefore, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to develop systems thinking if one’s mental models are ingrained in past experiences and beliefs.

For example, how can a manager deal effectively with an interpersonal problem in her work unit if she has certain opinions about an individual?

Or, how can a manager bring his followers on board with a major change in the organization if he’s unwilling to understand the underlying causes for the change and the many interdependencies involved?

To be an effective systems thinker requires the discipline of mental models. These two disciplines fit together naturally. Systems thinking concentrates on how to modify assumptions in order to show the true causes of problems. Mental models, in contrast, look at revealing our hidden assumptions.

For managers, it becomes essential that they take the time to reflect on their existing mental models until their assumptions and beliefs are brought out into the open. Until then, their mental models will not change and it’s pointless to attempt to engage in systems thinking.

To be a successful manager in the 21st century…calls for a new mental model of manager, one suited to a world of chaos.
- Toby Tetenbaum

Next Post: Shared Vision


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Personal Mastery: The Never-Ending Quest for Self-Discovery

February 18, 2018

Personal Mastery.jpg

Personal Mastery is the expression used to describe the discipline of personal growth and learning. People who possess high degrees of personal mastery are continually increasing their abilities to create the results they seek. Their never-ending quests for self-improvement and self-discovery underlie the spirit of organizations that buzz with excitement and creativity.

When we speak of personal mastery, it’s important to be clear that we’re not just referring to skills and competencies. Personal mastery includes spiritual growth and approaching life as a creative work. It means that we continually clarify what’s important to us and continually learn how to see the real world more clearly.

People who possess a high degree of personal mastery share some basic traits.
First, they have a strong sense of purpose that supports their personal visions and goals.

Second, they’re individuals who work with change, not against it.
Third, they feel connected to others and to life itself. And perhaps most importantly, they live in a continual learning mode.

Systems thinking brings out the more subtle aspects of personal mastery; for example, combining reason and intuition, seeing the interconnectedness of events in the world, compassion and commitment to the whole. To embark on a journey of personal growth means that one has made a conscious choice. It’s impossible to force an individual to engage in personal growth. As Peter Senge says, “It is guaranteed to backfire.”

There’s a key lesson here for managers: you can’t push against a string. People must want to change. Managers help create the environment, which includes modelling the desired behaviours.

Managers must work daily at creating a climate that promotes personal mastery. They must, above all, establish an environment in which people feel safe to create their personal visions, where they can challenge the status quo, and where inquiry and commitment to the truth are the norm.

If managers live this on a daily basis, personal mastery will be strengthened in two major ways. First, it will reinforce the notion that personal growth is indeed truly valued in the organization. And second, it will provide a sort of on-the-job-training, an essential part of personal mastery. The manager who is serious about her own quest for personal growth will send a powerful message to her followers.

Think about learning plans, a concept that many public and private organizations have adopted in recent years. Unfortunately, in many cases learning plans are done TO employees instead of WITH them. People thrive when they’re given the chance to empower themselves; when they’re controlled they shrivel up in spirit and performance.

Last, personal mastery is seen as one of the two individual disciplines. The other one is mental models. However, it’s important to remember that the five disciplines are interrelated. In the case of mental models, they’re also intertwined with systems thinking because they deal with how we view the world.
People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old. —Anonymous

Next Post: Mental Models


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Systems Thinking: Can You See the Big Picture?

February 11, 2018

Systems 2

Last week, I kicked off a six part series on how the five learning disciplines help us become better leaders. Today, we’ll look at the cornerstone of the learning disciplines.

Systems thinking deals with seeing wholes, or what some would say the big picture. It’s a discipline that enables us to see interrelationships and patterns of change, as opposed to snapshots of situations. It helps us to determine cause and effect, an important point because it’s never influenced in just one direction.

An important element of systems thinking is that of feedback and the role it plays in cause and effect. There are two types of feedback processes: reinforcing and balancing. An example of reinforcing feedback is a manager who does not fully appreciate the impact her expectations have on an employee’s performance. If she believes that the employee has potential, she’ll give him extra attention. In contrast, if she believes that an employee will be a poor performer, he’ll receive less attention.

This type of behaviour by a manager produces a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the first example, the employee will grow and develop, while in the second he’ll languish. In the latter example, a downward spiral can actually begin, one in which the interaction between the manager and the employee deteriorates, the consequence of mutual diminishing expectations.

The second type of feedback is balancing. These processes abound in organizations and are difficult to address. For example, we’re all familiar with the heroes who work long hours. They often complain about having to work on weekends. And it’s often these people who advance in the organization because working long hours is considered a virtue and an informal requirement to advancement.

Some organizations have attempted to eliminate this practice using formal communication. However, what they have found is that despite the official line from the CEO and other senior managers, the informal rule is that working long hours is still valued. Staff see management doing it, so it must be right.

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When managers attempt to implement a change, they often find themselves caught in a balancing process. They’re surprised to discover resistance by staff. Managers must therefore model what it is they’re advocating. In the case of discouraging staff from working long hours, managers must practice what they’re preaching. As Senge states: “Whenever there is resistance to change, you can count on there being one or more hidden balancing processes.”

These norms, in fact, are embedded in the power relationships in the organization. The challenge facing managers is to be able to identify the source of the resistance and to focus on these norms and power relationships. Pushing harder against the resistance is futile because it only strengthens it further.

In a true learning organization, managers come to understand the need to see the whole and the interrelationships that make an organization what it is. They are then functioning as systems thinkers. Senge sees systems thinking as an art, in which the individual is able to see through complex issues to the underlying forces. Mastering systems thinking means “…seeing patterns where others only see events and forces to react to. Seeing the forest as well as the trees is a fundamental problem that plagues all firms.”

Senge speaks of what he calls The Primacy of the Whole. This refers to the concept that relationships are more fundamental than things, and that wholes are of a higher order than parts. Managers are conditioned to see their organizations as “… things rather than as patterns of interaction.” They look for solutions that will ‘fix’ problems, instead of searching out the underlying causes. The consequence is the “… endless spiral of superficial quick fixes, worsening difficulties in the long run and an ever-deepening sense of powerlessness.”

While organizations learn through their people, this does not guarantee that organizational learning will result. This takes us to Senge’s second discipline: Personal Mastery.

Over the next few days think about Systems Thinking. Have you been part of the quick fix? What was the result or effect? Is there a sense of powerlessness among your co-workers?
The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained. (David Bohm)

Next post: Personal Mastery


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The Five Learning Disciplines: How They Help Us Become Better Leaders

February 4, 2018

Learning Disciplines

This is the first of a six-part series on the Five Learning Disciplines, based on Peter Senge’s phenomenally successful The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization (1990). Viewed as the seminal book on the learning organization concept, as well as one of the 20th Century’s most important management books, Senge lays the foundation from which organizations have the opportunity to grow and prosper. He states upfront that he assumes no credit for inventing the five disciplines; they’re the product of the work done by scores of people over many years. Senge has devoted, however, most of his career to studying these disciplines.

Senge is the Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School for Management and the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning. He has introduced his work to tens of thousands of managers in dozens of organizations throughout North America and Europe. He continues to be seen as one of the world’s leading thinkers on organizational learning.

Before delving into the five disciplines and what they mean for learning and leadership in organizations, let’s begin with a look at the Seven Learning Disabilities. Understanding what these disabilities represent, and the impact they have on how organizations function, is critical to developing a more complete picture of how people collectively learn in organizations.

The 7 Learning Disabilities

Most organizations, not surprisingly, have difficulty learning when viewed as a collective of people. To address this problem we first need to identify what’s called the Seven Learning Disabilities. After each description of a disability, a few thoughts and questions are included for your reflection.

1. I am my position. 
Because we’re expected to be loyal to our jobs, we tend to confuse them with our own identities. As Senge explains: “When people in organizations focus only on their position, they have little sense of responsibility for the results produced when all positions interact.”

Try this little experiment: the next time you meet someone for the first time (e.g, on an airplane, at a party or a social function), ask them what they do. Listen carefully. Does the person talk about their corporate position and how important their work is? Or do they talk about family or a passion, such as music or photography? You’ll learn a lot about this individual just from their response.

2. The Enemy is Out There. 
We have a tendency to blame others when something goes wrong, whether it’s another unit in the organization, a community board of directors, or a competitor company. Pay attention to what YOU say during times of trouble. Effective leaders don’t finger-point; they solve problems. How often have you been caught in this learning disability.

3. The Illusion of Taking Charge. 
We hear all too often that we must be pro-active, taking action to make something happen. However, pro-activeness can really be reactiveness in disguise. True pro-activeness comes from our ability to see how we contribute to our own problems. In essence, it’s the outcome of how we think, not how we react emotionally.

Are you engaged in “busyness” or in moving forward in a strategic way for the betterment of your organization? If you’re in a managerial position, are you really in charge? Who are the real leaders in your organization?

4. The Fixation on Events. 
The ongoing discussions and conversations in organizations focus typically on events, those “urgent” day-to-day issues that grab our attention. But the real threats to our survival are not events but rather the slow, gradual processes that creep up on us. We need to move away from short-term thinking to long-term thinking.

Take time to periodically reflect from where you’ve come and how you got there. Do you see a pattern? Is your thinking locked into the daily grind? What do you need to do to integrate events into a big picture perspective?

5. The Boiled Frog. 
This parable states that if you place a frog in boiling water it will hop out immediately. If you place it in cool water and gradually turn up the heat, the frog will remain in the pot, growing groggier until it cooks to death. What we learn from this parable is that if we wish to see the slow, gradual processes, we must slow down and pay attention to the subtle as well as the dramatic.

How are you coping in a frenetically-charged world? Do you take time out to do some personal reflection and thinking? Are you able to see the gradual, long-term trends?

6. The Delusion of Learning from Experience. 
We learn best from direct experience. In organizations, however, we usually don’t experience directly the consequences of our decisions. A major underlying reason for this is the functional silos that exist. These silos impede the flow of communication among people. The organization’s ability to analyze complex problems is subsequently greatly weakened.

How often (and how long) have you been in this environment? What can you do to help move your organization off this track?

7. The Myth of the Management Team. 
This reflects the desire for management to appear as a cohesive group that’s pulling in the same direction. The reality is that in most management ‘teams’ the need to uphold their image means that dissent is frowned upon and that joint decisions are ‘watered-down compromises.’ As Harvard’s Chris Argyris has discovered through his research (and referred to frequently by Senge), most organizations reward those who promote senior management’s views. Those who pose probing questions or who rock the boat are penalized.

What is your corporate culture?

Are you and others (including senior managers) operating in a compliance mindset?

What will be the ultimate effect on the organization’s performance and longevity? Do you wish to be part of this culture?

This brief look at the seven learning disabilities helps set the context for an exploration of the five disciplines. One key point needing emphasis is that these disciplines are all interrelated. They do not stand independently. And this is the beauty of understanding the five disciplines: because they are interrelated, they help us make sense of the complexities and turbulence inside and outside our organizations.

Our starting point is what Senge calls the cornerstone of the five disciplines: systems thinking. It underlies the other four disciplines: personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning.

To practice a discipline is to be a lifelong learner. You never arrive. The more you learn, the more acutely aware you become of your ignorance.
— Peter Senge

Next post: Systems Thinking


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Are You a Manager or a Leader? Making Sense of It with Henry Mintzberg’s Help

January 28, 2018

Mintzberg

One of the brighter lights in the management/leadership literature is Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn professor of Management Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Mintzberg is one of my top three favourite thinkers and writers in this field. His grounded approach to the practice of management, based on three decades of empirical research, combined with his teaching and the authoring of 15 books, make him one of the world’s leading authorities. His book Managing is a cogent examination of the management and leadership fields. It’s a must-read by any serious student of leader.

Mintzberg has railed against MBA programs for the past 20 years, noting the technicians that are produced, capable of the analytics but sadly lacking in the experience-required aspects of people leadership. The more recent good news is that MBA programs in North America have been steadily revamping their course content. An added benefit is that MBA students are increasingly people with some measure of real world work experience.

In the late nineties, Mintzberg and some of his McGill colleagues formed a partnership with like-minded individuals from around the world (England, France, India, Japan and Canada). The result was the International Master’s in Practicing Management. A number of initiatives followed, each based on the following five “premises.” For Mintzberg and his colleagues, they see this as “natural development.” Here’s a quick summary of the five premises:

1. Managers and leaders cannot be created in the classroom. 
If one agrees that management is a practice, then it can’t be taught as a science. Mintzberg argues that it can’t “…be taught at all.” Too much hubris has been generated in the past with “destructive consequences.” Many great corporate leaders never even went to graduate business school, yet some of the worse corporate leaders in recent history did their obligatory two years.

2. Managing is learned on the job, strengthened by varied work experiences.
As opposed to the need for some professions requiring extensive training before being unleashed onto the labor market (e.g., surgeons, accountants, dentists), management is the polar opposite. Management comprises too many nuances, intricacies and unknowns. The “logical starting point,” therefore, is acquiring experience through challenging assignments.

3. Development programs help managers make meaning of their experiences.
Classroom training has its place in helping those already practicing management to make sense of their world. As Mintzberg puts it: “It has been said of bacon and eggs that while the chicken is involved, the pig is committed. Management development has to be about commitment: to the job, the people, and the purpose…and to the organization…and society.”

4. Learning must be transferred back to the workplace if it is to have impact.
Management development has typically occurred in isolation. Even if the manager has begun a personal change process, he or she returns to an unchanged workplace. If it to have impact, management development must be integrated with organizational development, in which managers throughout the organization help drive the necessary change.

5. The above needs to be organized, based on the nature of managing.
Instead of management development being structured around the organization’s functions, which in effect is about analysis, it should be focused on human dynamics.

As Mintzberg bluntly puts it: “…marketing + finance + accounting, etc. does not = management….We have more than enough calculating managers….We need ones who can deal with the calculated chaos of management–its art and craft–which highlights the importance of reflection, worldliness, collaboration, action.”

So there you have it: a few words of wisdom from one of the world’s leading management experts.

Take some time to reflect on Mintzberg’s messages. They’re deep and profound. In a time when predictions are increasingly meaningless and chaos appears to be king, effective managing becomes an even greater challenge. However, acquiring a strong grasp on knowing oneself and showing a sustained commitment to lifelong learning through periodic self-reflection, accompanied by a good dose of curiosity, will make the management journey that more enjoyable.

Managers who don’t lead are quite discouraging, but leaders who don’t manage don’t know what’s going on. It’s a phony separation that people are making between the two.
— Henry Mintzberg


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Rethinking Teams and Teamwork: Getting Over the Guilt Complex

January 21, 2018

Coaching 4

I’m going to confuse you and pull a 180, not to be ornery but rather to question some of the past (and current) wisdom on teams. The past several posts have focused on teams and viewed them through a more or less conventional lens. So hang on, here we go!

Teams, teams, teams! This has become the refrain since the early nineties when the literature on teams and teamwork exploded. Everyone needed to be part of a team, however small the organization. To most people working in organizations, private and public, the reflex is to refer to one’s ‘team’ when discussing co-workers and work issues. What has happened over time is that the use of the word ‘team’ has greatly diluted what teams and teamwork are really about. And along the way, the cult of teamwork has created scepticism and mistrust – and even guilt – among employees.

Before you conclude that I’m anti-teamwork, I want to point out that in addition to having spent many years being part of a variety of teams that I’ve also designed and delivered dozens of team-building workshops. I’m all for teamwork, but I’m even more keen on collaboration, which is a different beast from being part of an intact team.

Therefore, my purpose here is to do something I occasionally like to do: rock the boat a little and challenge the conventional wisdom that has emerged during the past two decades. My ultimate aim is to widen your perspective on what constitutes teamwork, that it’s okay to enjoy working independently, and that ‘teamwork’ in reality encompasses a broad range of ways in which people come together to accomplish specific objectives.

My own experiences in being a part of teams and various assortments of work groups extend back over 35 years when I first entered the job market. When teams became the method of choice for how work should be organized in the early nineties, it was nothing particularly new to me since that was how I had been working for many years in a service branch. But I recall quite clearly the stress that some of my co-workers in other parts of my office underwent.

Light BulbAt the surface my co-workers were all for teams, the message they wished to be heard saying publicly. But one-on-one, their true feelings were expressed candidly. These were people who preferred working independently, and whose jobs really did not demand the rigours of a team setting. And I confess, too, that as much as I enjoyed working with others, especially initiating projects and bringing people together, I also liked working on my own when the right circumstances prevail.

So what am I talking about–working independently in the face of the omnipresent need for teamwork? It’s essential that one understand what teamwork entails before defaulting to the mantra of teams, teams, teams! As much as a long list of writers has enunciated the characteristics and traits of what constitutes teamwork, at its core are two necessary conditions:

1. Shared common purpose for the team,


2. Interdependency of work among the members.

Remember we talked about this at the beginning of my series on teamwork.
Unless both these conditions are present, one cannot have a team. Yes, there are a number of important features of teamwork, including:

• Size of the team,

• Effective communication,

• Performance goals,

• Respect for one another,

• Mutual accountability,

• Celebrating successes

• Socializing and having fun.

As organizations continue to evolve as a consequence of socio-economic changes, technology, demographics, global markets, virtual distributed work, etc., so too must their internal structures change. Work still needs to get done, regardless of external and internal changes, and sometimes this is by using formal (intact) teams or some other forms of bringing people together.

Most of us have probably been part of working groups at some point in our careers. I spent a significant amount of time working in this manner. They can be very effective at addressing specific problems and issues with prescribed time durations. However, it’s important to remember that working groups exist to share information, delegate tasks and make decisions. The members of the working group take responsibility for their own results. The focus, therefore, is on individual performance. Consequently, the output of the working group is the sum of the individual members’ contributions. The so-called synergistic effect of teamwork doesn’t take hold in this setting.

When it’s necessary to form a team because the conditions call for this type of work arrangement, the challenge to create effective teamwork can be quite daunting. It’s important, therefore, to understand that teams typically go through four main stages (as we discussed earlier in this series):

1. Forming
: This occurs when people are first brought together to form a team. They begin to get to know one another and set out to establish the appropriate rules and behaviours that will govern the team. The members look to the team leader for direction. Interactions among the members are somewhat formal and polite during this phase.

2. Storming: The members are getting comfortable with one another. They start disagreeing and challenging each other. If this stage is missed, the team won’t be as strong because it hasn’t yet learned how to deal with conflict.

3. Norming: The members know each other and have developed rules of conduct. They want the team to be successful. Trust is being established, and the members are having fun.

4. Performing
: In this final stage, the team has a clear, common purpose and direction. The members appreciate their diversity and are building on it. Synergy is taking hold.

Conflict 2

The length to which a team remains at a certain stage varies, depending on the ability of the members to address and resolve issues and to move forward. But the members must work on developing a clear purpose, goals and common approach. They must also agree on mutual accountability.

Given the amount of time, effort and nurturing that the creation of a truly effective team requires, it’s not surprising when you hear cynical comments about teams. Publicly in organizations employees will say what management wants to hear. However, with co-workers in private another conversation is being held.

One expert on teams who rocks the boat is J. Richard Hackman, who has been consulted by numerous organizations over the years on work design, leadership development, and team and group performance. His research runs counter to the popular press, finding that work teams are found clustered at both ends of the organizational effectiveness continuum. While some teams succeed well, others flounder. Underlying this is how management approaches work group design.
Here are some key points to retain for consideration when thinking about forming teams.

First, management should not push teamwork when certain tasks can be done more effectively by individuals. One good example is preparing reports, which Hackman suggests is better done by one person on behalf of the group. My experience in report writing is aligned with this view. Trying to employ a team to write a report is both inefficient and frustrating (if not ludicrous), with the result being an inferior product.

A second example, but in the area of executive leadership, is the creation of mission and vision statements. While a democratic approach may appear appropriate, creating a vision statement with a team of managers can be hugely time consuming. I’ve been there, done that, and finally learned that having the CEO, president or the principal leader of the organization write a draft of a vision is much preferred. After all, that’s why these people are paid the big bucks!

Second, when a group of employees needs to be brought together to address an organizational issue, it’s important to define it for what it is (e.g., working group, planning committee) and manage it accordingly. If teamwork is required (remember the two features of interdependency and shared purpose), then management needs to ensure that the necessary resources are available to help the team develop.

Third, when teamwork is determined as the appropriate route the level of authority for the team must be decided. And tied tightly to this are participative management and clearly defined objectives and timeframes. During my working career in the public and private sectors, I saw teams flounder or go off the rails because management didn’t clearly express its expectations at the outset. In the face of uncertainty and weak managerial oversight teams run the risk of going renegade, producing unnecessary grief for everyone.

Fourth, depending on the maturity of the team and its members (i.e., past experience) the structure supporting it will need varying attention. For example, what should be the size of the team? What are the training needs? Are special physical resources required, as well as budgets? How is leadership within the team to be shared? And how should team learning and knowledge generation be managed?

Fifth, few writers on teamwork address the interdependency among teams. This is a critical aspect of using teams within organizations, but one that is often overlooked. And the issue gains even more significance when self-directed teams are used. Some of my past work in delivering team-building workshops included self-directed teams.

Without adequate managerial oversight, the danger exists of teams forming their own exclusive walls around themselves, driven by such motives as unique identity and controlling information. When this occurs teamwork at the organizational level begins to break down. Product and service may suffer as the guiding light of organizational mission and vision becomes dimmer in the eyes of employees.

Black Woman

The relationship between managerial leadership and the leadership practiced by individuals and within teams, as well as with other assortments of employee groupings, is constantly in flux and being challenged. In effect, there’s a necessary tension between the two. This keeps organizations in the state of constantly learning and evolving. In the absence of this creativity and innovation will suffer, with the consequence being the onset of organizational sclerosis. In a globalized economy characterized by market turbulence and rapidly changing technology, compounded by the entrance of emerging economies, organizations have increasingly narrow windows within which to make corrections.

As organizations in the public and private sectors adapt to the pressures and dynamics of globalization and technological change, one key aspect will be how they approach work design. When teams are determined to be the most effective way to accomplish certain objectives, they will increasingly be virtual in nature. The use of telework, while being applied currently with varied success in the workforce, will add new challenges for managers. And of particular significance is the growing use of contingent workers who have no specific affinity for organizations: they move in and out based on organizational needs.

Finally, a rapidly emerging issue that is shaking up organizations is Generation Y (also referred to as Millennials, from age 19 to 36). Gen Y is especially technologically savvy and possesses a high level of self-confidence. Their approach to work is more fluid, much less hierarchical and virtual-oriented through the use of technology. A major challenge for those in senior managerial positions will be how to organize work efficiently. Teamwork will undoubtedly continue to be an integral part of how organizations function, but the conventional assumption of what constitutes teamwork will increasingly be challenged.

My suggestion to those who are feeling stressed or threatened as a result of the turbulence we’re witnessing in organizations is to follow these simple words: “Be open to outcome, not attached to it.” Maintaining an open mind will enable you to see the opportunities that are resident in change and to adapt much faster and more easily.

To wrap up, I apologize if I’ve caused you any undue frustration or stress in presenting some opposing views to teamwork, after taking you through this series. But with that said, there’s no one right or clear answer to the many inter-connected challenges facing us. What you’ve read over the past several weeks are the views of just one human being, who’s still trying to figure it all out at age 62. Keep learning and, especially, an open mind.

To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.
— Benjamin Disraeli


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