How to Develop the Ideal Team

Image result for teamwork

What Ideal Team Players Are Made of

Ideal team players possess adequate measures of humility, hunger and people smarts, according to Patrick Lencioni in The Ideal Team Player. They have little ego when it comes to needing attention or credit for their contributions, and they are comfortable sharing their accolades or even occasionally missing out on them. Ideal team players work with a sense of energy, passion and personal responsibility, taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team. Finally, they say and do the right things to help teammates feel appreciated, understood and included, even when difficult situations arise that require tough love. Most of us can recall having managed or worked with ideal team players in our careers, as they are quite appealing and memorable. How exactly should a leader go about evaluating people for humility, hunger and smarts? There is no easy, quantitative diagnostic, but there are reliable, qualitative approaches that can work very well. There are a number of questions managers can ask themselves about a given employee to determine whether he or she is humble, hungry or smart.

Humble. Does he genuinely compliment or praise teammates without hesitation? Does she easily admit when she makes a mistake? Is he willing to take on lower-level work for the good of the team? Does she gladly share credit for team accomplishments? Does he readily acknowledge his weaknesses? Does she offer and receive apologies graciously?

Hungry. Does he do more than what is required in his own job? Does she have passion for the “mission” of the team? Does he feel a sense of personal responsibility for the overall success of the team? Is she willing to contribute to and think about work outside of office hours? Is he willing and eager to take on tedious and challenging tasks whenever necessary? Does she look for opportunities to contribute outside of her area of responsibility?

Smart. Does he seem to know what teammates are feeling during meetings and interactions? Does she show empathy to others on the team? Does he demonstrate an interest in the lives of teammates? Is she an attentive listener? Is he aware of how his words and actions impact others on the team? Is she good at adjusting her behavior and style to fit the nature of a conversation or relationship? Teamwork is not a virtue but rather a choice. For those organizations that are sincere about humility, hunger and smarts, here are a few simple ideas for embedding those virtues into your culture.

• Be explicit and bold. Leaders who believe teamwork is important and expect their people to be humble, hungry and smart should come right out and say so. They should tell everyone. Employees. Vendors. Partners. Customers. It’s not marketing but rather expectation-setting.

• Catch and revere. Leaders should be constantly on the lookout for any displays of the virtues. And when they see those displays, they should hold them up as examples for everyone to see. Great team leaders will acknowledge an act of humility, hunger or people smarts not because they want to be seen as sophisticated or clever managers but because they want everyone to know exactly what kinds of behavior they expect and appreciate.

• Detect and address. Whenever you see a behavior that violates one of the values, take the time to let the violator know that his behavior is out of line. And don’t just do it in egregious situations. Often, the smaller offenses are the ones that are harder for employees to see and the ones they learn from the most. Of course, doing this well requires tact and good judgment. The key is that leaders and, eventually, teammates don’t squander opportunities for constructive learning.

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Making a Career Among Multiple Generations

The time in which we live is unique in that this is the first time that four generations are working side-by-side in the workplace: the Traditionalists (born before 1945), the Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964), Gen X (born 1965-1980), and the Millennials (born 1981-2001). This is due in part to increased longevity and in part to people not wanting or being able to afford to retire.

Haydn Shaw, in his book Sticking Points, describes the 12 sticking points between the generations that must be worked through in order for inter-generational cooperation to take place:

Communication                                 Loyalty

Decision Making                               Meetings

Dress Code                                       Policies

Feedback                                          Respect

Fun at Work                                      Training

Knowledge Transfer                          Work Ethic

As younger workers seek to advance in their careers, they will need to learn how to work with those of older generations, and those at the top of companies will be more and more dependent on these younger workers for their success.

This coming week we have the pleasure of hosting two Soundview Live webinars relating to these issues. The first How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career with Debra Benton, and then How to Get 4 Generations Working Together with Haydn Shaw.

How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career

In this Soundview Live webinar, Debra Benton gives you the insight and tools to make subtle changes in your presentation, attitude, and leadership style that will dramatically increase your leadership effectiveness – and, consequently, help you enjoy work and life.

How to Get 4 Generations Working Together

At this Soundview Live webinar, Haydn Shaw shows you how to help the different generations at work or home stick together instead of come apart, and will help you move beyond these sticking points and get productive again.

Both of these conversations will be helpful for anyone seeking to move up in their career. So please plan to join us on June 17th and 19th and invite your colleagues as well.

How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time

Laura Stack makes an amazing claim in her book Execution IS the Strategy. She states that strategy must emerge out of execution, and she provides four premises for this approach.

  1.  Interdependency – strategy and tactics are part of the same over-arching process, with an inherent relationship.
  2. Fluidity – strategy must be more flexible in its tactics now than in the past.
  3. Speed – strategy must be executed more quickly than ever before to be effective.
  4. Validity – strategy must still be appropriate and strong, or none of the first three premises matters.

Laura then provide the 4 keys to efficient strategic execution, which she calls the L-E-A-D Formula:

Leverage – do you have the right people in place to achieve your strategic priorities?

Environment – do you have the organizational atmosphere, practices, and culture that will allow employees to easily support your strategic priorities?

Alignment – do your team members’ daily activities move them toward the accomplishment of the organization’s ultimate goals?

Drive – are your organization’s leaders, teams, and employees agile enough to move quickly once the first three pieces of this list are in place?

To learn more about how execution and strategy interact, and how to apply the L-E-A-D formula to your organization, join us on May 30th for our Soundview Live webinar How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time with Laura Stack. Bring your questions and fill the room with your team members.

Are You Ready for Change?

If there’s one certainty in business today, it’s this: Change is coming your way. You have no choice in the matter. The choice you do have is either to embrace it or bury your head in the sand.

What is necessary in order for real change to happen in your organization? Walter McFarland and Susan Goldsworthy, authors of Choosing Change, suggest you follow the 4 D’s:

Disruption: An experience or event that triggers a conscious choice to change

Desire: Committing to goals and deciding upon the change necessary to meet them

Discipline: Consistently taking steps that build the momentum required for sustainable change

Determination: Developing the resilience to focus and deliver even when faced with setbacks

Development: Establishing a system for continuous improvement, feedback, and ongoing learning

If you ‘d like to learn more about how to make change part of your business’s DNA, then please join us on May 15th for our Soundview Live webinar with McFarland and Goldsworthy, Driving Results One Person at a Time. You can also submit questions throughout the presentation.

Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation


Out of the Mouths of CEOs

What are the core elements of an effective culture that encourages and enables innovation, and how can leaders create such a culture? These two questions are at the heart of Quick and Nimble, a new book from New York Times feature writer Adam Bryant. Bryant replicates the process he used for his previous book on leadership, The Corner Office, by interviewing more than 200 CEOs, then gathering their insights into focused chapters on key topics.

Leading Innovation

In the first part of Quick and Nimble, Bryant outlines the basic elements identified by the CEOs he interviewed as essential to an effective innovation culture. A sample of these elements include:

  • A simple plan. Complex objectives and goals won’t be understood and will therefore fail to inspire and focus employees.
  • Values. Behavior in the organization must be driven by clearly communicated values.
  • Respect. Interactions between all leaders, managers and employees must be built on unwavering respect.
  • Team focus. All members of the organization must be ready to do their part for the team.
  • Frank feedback. Misunderstandings and disagreements are unavoidable, but they need to be resolved through honest and open “adult conversations.”

In the second part of the book, Bryant shifts to guidelines for leaders who want to build on the cultural foundation of their organizations and foster innovation. These guidelines include the importance of:

  • Constant communication to keep employees focused on priorities.
  • Training managers on key managerial skills, behaviors and habits.
  • Offering learning opportunities to high-performing employees by moving them around the organization.
  • Surfacing problems that might be hiding under the surface.
  • Knocking down silos.

The Wisdom (and Wit) of CEOs

At the beginning of the book, Bryant writes that he structured each chapter “much like a dinner party conversation, with me as the host, guiding the conversation with a large group of CEOs.” The metaphor is apt, as the reader can imagine a circle of CEOs gathered around a dinner table, adding their insights and stories to the discussion at hand. The chapter on having values as the guiding “rules of the road” is a case in point.

Lars Björk, CEO of data software firm QlikTech, shares the values that drive his fast-growing company: challenge (the conventional); move fast; be open and straightforward; teamwork for results; and take responsibility. Robert LoCascio, CEO of software company LivePerson, recounts the challenge of changing a culture that had become hierarchical and bureaucratic. The major changes he introduced — beginning with asking leaders to move out of offices — did not go over easily: one-hundred twenty employees and three-quarters of the management left the company, either voluntarily or not.

To reinforce the values through stories (one of the most effective reinforcement techniques), City National Bank CEO Russell Goldsmith describes how he organizes a quarterly American Idol-inspired “Story Idol” for employees (Goldsmith, it should be said, is a former movie industry executive). Other CEOs share the clever expressions that summarize the culture, such as LinkedIn’s “next play,” which echoes the phrase Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski yells to his players at the end of any play, offensive or defensive. Like Krzyzewski, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner doesn’t want his team celebrating what they’ve just accomplished or lamenting what they failed to do: Just move on to the “next play.”

For health care supply company Medline Industries CEO Andy Mills, a favorite expression is “kissing frogs.” Mills often tells employees that “they have to kiss a lot of frogs,” which means that they should not be afraid to take long shots that might not pan out. After, the frog might just be a prince.

Filled with the wisdom — and wit — of 200 successful practitioners and well organized into focused topics of discussion, Quick and Nimble is an insightful, comprehensive and entertaining overview of the role of culture in building an innovative company.

The Truth About Trust

New Revelations About Trust

Whether to trust or not trust someone is a recurring dilemma in our lives. One of the fundamental lessons of The Truth About Trust, a new book from psychologist and researcher David DeSteno, is that there are no easy answers. One might think that the integrity of another person might be a deciding factor, but what about competence? We are obviously only going to trust a doctor if we feel he or she has both. And how do we judge such factors? Research shows, DeSteno writes, that we are not necessarily very good at judging the integrity of others.

The Unexpected Factor

One of the earliest of the many academic experiments that pack this book reveals the surprising complexity of why we might trust people. The experiment was designed to show whether someone trusts a person they are partnered with. The results showed, not surprisingly, that when the partner had previously helped the other person — by recovering lost documents on a computer, for example — the other person was more likely to trust the partner. This result falls into the easy assumptions one might make about trust: The Good Samaritan partner, after all, demonstrated his integrity. However, the results also showed that grateful participants also trust their partners more even if the partners were not the ones who helped them. In other words, simply being in a state of gratefulness — that someone had come to your rescue — will make you more ready to trust people… anyone.

Opening Insights

The Truth About Trust reveals the full complexity of trust, which encompasses biological instincts, societal guidelines, unconscious emotions, conscious calculations of self-interest and more. DeSteno’s crystal-clear writing in explaining the research and its implications makes this a fascinating read, helped along by the short lists at the end of each chapter that summarize the learnings of the chapter. For example, he brings his first chapter into focus with these insights:

1. The competing elements in trustworthiness are not good and evil, but short and long term. Being untrustworthy can bring short-term benefits but long-term pain, and the choice is not easy.

2. Reputation is overrated: Everyone cheats.

3. Trusting others is always better on average, which doesn’t mean a whole lot if you lose your life savings to a con man.

4. Competence is as important as integrity.

5. If you think you can trust yourself, think again.

Rules for The Trust Machinery

Every chapter is rich in detailed research and revealing insights that, in the end, help us understand what DeSteno calls our “trust machinery.” To effectively operate this trust machinery requires following some important rules. First, he writes, “trust is risky, but necessary, useful and even powerful.” Our minds are constantly weighing the risks and benefits of trustworthiness, although DeSteno emphasizes that our ethical principles may sometimes require us to override our instincts.

The second rule is that we must remember that trust permeates every area of our life from the moment we are born. It’s not just about the big contract or the wedding vow. A third rule is that reputation is situational, meaning that past behavior is not a good measure of trustworthiness. Rule number four is to pay attention to your intuitions. Don’t follow them blindly, DeSteno writes, but don’t ignore them in favor of simplistic and misleading signals (e.g., the averted gaze).

A fifth rule is to allow some “bumps in the road” — to keep a trusting relationship alive even though there might have been a slip, perhaps unintentional, in trustworthiness. Finally, DeSteno warns that helicopter parents who try to shield children from all feelings of shame or guilt may in fact be hurting their ability to trust in the long run. There are inevitably, after all, success and failures in the journey.

With every chapter offering new revelations about trust — from the complexity in children’s calculations of trustworthiness to the rigorously tested and confirmed conclusion that upper-class people are to be trusted less — this brilliant addition to the trust literature is almost an anomaly: a deeply researched, learned treatise that reads like the best of novels, keeping us wondering what is going to happen next.

How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results


Getting Leadership on a Positive Wavelength

In Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams, author Roger Schwarz argues that many leaders fail today because they cling to the leadership approach of what he calls unilateral control. This approach will be familiar to most: The leader makes the decisions, and the others obey.

Effective leaders, writes Schwarz, reject the unilateral control approach in favor of a mutual learning approach. With this approach, leaders and the other members of the team join together to learn, decide and act as one cohesive unit. Leadership is transferred to the whole team and not just one commander.

Why the Unilateral Control Approach Fails

The problem with the unilateral control approach, as Schwarz eloquently details, begins with the values and assumptions that make up the mindset. The values are

• Win, don’t lose. (You value your goals as you define them.)

• Be right. (One of your favorite phrases might be, “I told you so.”)

• Minimize expression of negative feelings. (You don’t want to know about other people’s frustrations and anger, and you keep yours hidden as well.)

• Act rational. (You don’t see the need for feelings, especially when your position is perfectly logical and unassailable.)

The unilateral mindset also features destructive assumptions, writes Schwarz, including but not limited to

• “I understand the situation; those who disagree, don’t.”

• “I have pure motives; those who disagree have questionable ones.”

• “My feelings and behavior are justified.”

Not surprisingly, according to Schwarz, the behavior engendered by this mindset is hardly constructive. Some examples of this behavior: withholding relevant information; speaking in general terms and not agreeing on what important words mean; keeping reasoning private and not asking others about their reasoning; controlling the conversation; and acting on untested assumptions and inferences as if they were true.

The result of the unilateral control mindset, writes Schwarz, is lackluster team performance, strained relations, and less individual well-being.

Why the Mutual Learning Approach Succeeds

In contrast, the mutual learning mindset, Schwarz writes, presents a much different set of values, assumptions and behavior, leading to much more positive results. As described by Schwarz, the values of the mutual learning mindset are transparency, control, informed choice, accountability and compassion. The assumptions of the mutual learning mindset reflect these values and include

“I have information but so do other people.”

“Each of us sees things others don’t.”

“Differences are opportunities for learning.”

The values and assumptions of the mutual learning mindset, writes Schwarz, lead to behaviors such as

• Stating views and asking genuine questions.

• Explaining reasoning and intent.

• Focusing on interests, not positions.

• Testing assumptions and inferences.

As expected, the result of such behavior is better team performance, better working relationships and greater individual well-being.

In addition to individual behavior, Schwarz shows how the mutual learning mindset can guide the design of the team – its structures and processes – to ensure the best results.

The power of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams is not just the breadth of Schwarz’s insight but also the depth and clarity with which Schwarz describes each issue.

The general theme of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams may be familiar. Schwarz, however, has written a book on new leadership that is exceptionally practical and applicable.

Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams is not filled with exemplary anecdotes of what others have done; instead, the book concentrates – in detail – on the specific values, assumptions and behaviors that leaders must accept and adopt if they are to be successful.

How to Hold Others Accountable

Many of you are probably familiar with a book by the people at Vital Smarts called Crucial Confrontations. It has been a best seller for several years with over a million copies sold. This year Joseph Grenny and his colleagues reworked this book, adding over 40% new material from recent research, and renaming the book Crucial Accountability to better reflect its focus.

A few years ago we hosted a series of video seminars with Vital Smarts on their series of books including Crucial Confrontations, and so we invited them back to update us on what they’ve learned over the years in this crucial area of accountability.

Top performers are gifted at holding others accountable. They know how to diagnose the underlying causes behind broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior. In this Soundview Media Group video webinar, How to Hold Others Accountable, participants will learn from co-author Joseph Grenny the high-leverage skill set that lies at the heart of problem solving and execution.

Here are the key take-aways on accountability you will learn at this video seminar:

  • Diagnose the Underlying Cause. Identify the underlying cause behind every problem using a six-source model of possible influences.
  • Make It Motivating. Motivate others without resorting to threats or power and instead, search for and explain natural consequences of noncompliance.
  • Make It Easy. Involve others in coming up with a solution to their ability barriers.
  • Stay Focused and Flexible. Skillfully attend to the problem of choice rather than getting sidetracked.

Please join us on October 30th for this special video seminar. Unlike our regular Soundview Live webinars, this video seminar will provide a live video feed with Dr. Grenny and both slides and video support to demonstrate his points. Subscribers will receive a special 30% discount for this video seminar just by logging in before they register, and all registrants will receive a free copy of the Crucial Accountability e-book.

Hope to see you there!

Creating a Powerful Sales Culture

“If you think about what it takes to close a deal, it is very much dependent on you, as a sales professional, to harness and leverage the skills and talents of everyone around you – your virtual sales team. What successful sales professionals have figured out is this: If you adopt a sales culture, you’ll sell more and sell smarter because you won’t ever have to sell by yourself.”  Todd Cohen

Todd Cohen works with all professionals who want to create a sales culture so that more sales happen. Since 1984, Todd has coached and led sales teams to deliver more than $700 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox, Gartner Group, Pensare, Thomson-Reuters, and LexisNexis.

As the Principal of SalesLeader LLC, Todd inspires, advises, and builds high performance sales teams that produce outstanding results. He also provides strategic oversight and serves as executive sales coach and advisor to clients ranging from small, rapidly growing start-ups to well-established, large corporations.

Soundview has invited Todd Cohen to join us for our Soundview Live webinar, How to Unleash the Power of Sales Culture, on September 26th. Whether you are in sales or could be part of a virtual sales team, you’ll want to hear what Cohen has to say about developing that sales culture. In this super-competitive economy, our sales teams need all the help they can get.

Why Social Sensing Will Transform Business


How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work

In addition to his position as visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab, Ben Waber, author of People Analytics, is president and CEO of a company that uses social sensing technology to help companies better understand how their employees communicate and collaborate. The goal, as detailed in his book, is to show companies how to improve in areas as diverse as employee performance, project management and innovation.

The Badge

At the heart of social sensing technology is the Sociometric Badge, or simply “the badge.” The badge is a general-purpose sensing device about the size of a pack of cards that combines a number of different sensors; these sensors allow researchers to monitor and analyze many aspects of human behavior.

One early experiment, for example, observed participants at a speed dating event. Women sat at tables arranged in a row and men moved from table to table, conversing for only five minutes at each stop with a potential date. Looking only at the social signals recorded by the badges, the researchers could predict which two people would go on a date with 85 percent accuracy.

Another early experiment applied to a workplace situation, specifically the negotiation of salaries. Once again measuring social signals, researchers demonstrated exactly how important these signals were to the outcome of the conversation. As Waber explains, “This research indicates that if you are looking for an entry-level software engineering position, just changing the way you talk to your potential employer would give you a 30 percent greater chance of pulling in $90,000 versus $65,000.”

Social Networks

To better quantify relationships, scientists use the concept of the social network. A social network, Waber explains, identifies the links between people. To diagram a social network, for example, five people would be represented by five dots, with lines drawn connecting those who are friends with each other. The same drawing could illustrate conversations during the day, with lines connecting those who talked to each other that day. In this case, you could also illustrate the number of conversations by making certain lines thicker (representing pairs of people who had multiple conversations that day).

In People Analytics, Waber describes a number of areas in which research on social networks, with the help of the badge, explains the dynamics of successful organizations — or the root causes of low performance.

For example, Bank of America asked Waber and his colleagues to determine why, despite extensive corporate-wide standards, some call centers performed better than others. The researchers studied a team of 80 call center employees at one call center and discovered a key to productivity and efficiency: the cohesion of the center’s social networks.

Cohesion is a measure of how much the people you talk to talk to each other. In other words, if you have five friends and those five friends never talk to each other, your social network is not very cohesive. If, on the other hand, all five friends talk frequently to each other, you have a very cohesive social network.

Looking at the data for the different call center teams, the researchers found that the more cohesive the team, the better it performed. Cohesion was best accomplished during breaks, which is when team members had the most opportunity to speak with each other. At the suggestion of the researchers, the company began aligning breaks so that all team members took a break at the same time. As predicted by the researchers’ hypothesis, the increased cohesion of the teams led to a significant increase in performance.

Understanding the importance of social networks offers insight into other aspects of business performance or strategy. For example, telecommuting might seem to be a creative way to cut costs. But, as Waber demonstrates, the impact of losing face-to-face communication among employees would offset any financial savings.

People Analytics is a fascinating exploration of how today’s available data on social networks and the dynamics of communication help people to understand and decipher how organizations really work; the challenge might be to get executives and business owners to listen to the data.