Extreme Teams by Robert Bruce Shaw

512GQYRUADL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Why Pixar, Netflix, Airbnb, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail

Great achievements are almost always the work of great teams. But most leaders rely on decades-old ideas and practices about teams developed by companies that have lost their edge. Times change and so must our teams. Those who cling to outdated views of teamwork and team-building will be left behind. So, what do you need to do to create a team that can successfully face the challenges of today’s world? To answer that question, Robert Bruce Shaw examines the work practices of innovative, high-growth companies such as Whole Foods, Pixar, and Netflix. These firms became ground-breaking leaders in their industries, in part, by boldly rewriting the rules of teamwork. Extreme Teams provides a detailed analysis of how the leaders at these companies think and operate — and, in particular, describes their approaches for creating high energy teams that deliver extraordinary results. Filled with success stories from some of the most exciting firms operating today, Extreme Teams will push you to think about teams in new ways. It is filled with pragmatic suggestions that you can use to move your team to the next level of engagement and performance. It is for those who want to go beyond traditional approaches to teamwork and build truly great groups.

• How to build a new team or turn around an unproductive team.
• Establish clear, concise and obtainable team values.
• Create an innovative and cooperative company culture.
• Redefine and embrace conflict in order to produce results.

Friday Book Review! The Elegant Pitch by Mike Figliuolo

bookOne day, Mike Figliuolo and his team went to his boss to make a recommendation for action. Another team was present with its own recommendation and went first. The leader of the other team handed the boss the team’s 25-page presentation in support of the recommendation. The boss threw the 25 pages across the room and said, “Talk to me! What do you want? I’m busy. I don’t have time for all this paper.” As Figliuolo recounts in his book, The Elegant Pitch, “They were surprised. We weren’t. We knew better, and our presentation was three pages.” The Elegant Pitch is a tutorial on how to get recommendations accepted by making presentations that tell decision-makers everything they need to know — not everything you know. This may seem obvious, and yet most people never make the distinction, Figliuolo writes. Instead of carefully parsing down their presentations to the most salient and compelling points, they try to include every single supporting point, hoping that the cumulative weight of the argument will carry the day. The typical process for developing a recommendation, writes Figliuolo, follows four steps: 1) gather large amounts of data and do excessive amounts of analysis; 2) identify insights from this excessive analysis; 3) assemble all of the analysis into a comprehensive 30- to 60-page document to show the rigor of the analysis; 4) present this tome in a two-hour meeting, impressing decision-makers with the depth of the insights. Does it work? Not usually, writes Figliuolo.

The Structured Thought Process

To make presentations that lead to accepted ideas and recommendations, Figliuolo argues that the data-heavy and analysis-heavy tomes should be replaced by what he calls the “structured thought process.”

This process follows nine carefully defined steps that, he writes, must be followed in order:

1. Define the Question. What is the problem and why does it need to be solved? Absolute clarity is essential.

Click here to read the other 8 steps.

Great Teams by Don Yaeger

Image result for great teams don yaegerWhat makes a team great? Not just good. Not just functional. But great? Over the last six years, long-time Sports Illustrated associate editor Don Yaeger has been invited by some of the greatest companies in the world to speak about the habits of high-performing individuals. Yaeger was approached by his most consistent client, Microsoft, to develop a talk on what allowed some teams to play at a championship level year after year. What do some organizations do seemingly better than most all of their opponents? Yaeger took the challenge. He has conducted more than 100 interviews with some of the most successful teams and organizations in the country. From those interviews, he has identified 16 habits that drive these high-performing teams. Building on the stories, examples and first-hand accounts, each chapter in Great Teams comes with applicable examples on how to apply these characteristics in any organization. Great Teams is a powerful companion for thought leaders, teams, managers and organizations that seek to perform similarly. The insight shared in this book is sure to enhance any team in its pursuit of excellence.


• The four essential pillars and 16 characteristics that set a Great Team apart.
• The synergistic leadership style of Great Teams.
• The importance of culture in Great Teams and organizations.
• How Great Teams embrace change and manage conflict.
• How Great Teams avoid the pitfalls of success.

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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[FREE WEBINAR] What Makes the Great Teams Great

soundview webinar speakerWhat Makes the Great Teams Great

Date: Thursday, September 29
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Don Yaeger

Click here to register

There is nothing more magical than watching a team come together, to manage adversity as a group, selflessly give to others, to find common purpose. Inspiring that to happen year-in and year-out is what keeps us in leadership.

In this FREE Soundview Live webinar, What Makes the Great Teams Great, Don Yaeger identifies what allows some teams to play at a championship level year after year and how to apply these characteristics in your organization.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What makes a team truly great
  • How to grow a winning culture within your organization
  • How to manage dysfunction, friction, and strong personalities

How to Make Powerful and Positive Changes in Your Organization

Date: Wednesday, September 7th
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Steven D. Goldstein

Click here to register

Dysfunction within large organizations is so prevalent that most people either accept it as an inevitable fact of corporate life or assume someone else will deal with it. But must it be this way? Steven D. Goldstein answers this question with a resounding, “No!”

In this Soundview Live webinar, How to Make Powerful and Positive Changes in Your Organization, Steven Goldstein explains the nature of dysfunction present in most companies and other organizations, why it occurs, and most importantly, what leaders, at all levels, can do to tackle these issues and improve performance.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Proven techniques for solving problems and improving performance
  • How to understand and utilize the Five Principles of Engagement
  • How top leaders can improve the way they interact with their teams, employees, and customers

How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues

Image result for the ideal team playerIn his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking approach for tackling the perilous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here he turns his focus to the individual, revealing the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player. In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni tells the story of Jeff Shanley, a leader desperate to save his uncle’s company by restoring its cultural commitment to teamwork. Jeff must crack the code on the virtues that real team players possess, and then build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.

Beyond the fable, Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring and developing ideal team players. Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

In this summary, you will learn:
• An entertaining story of how leaders discover and embrace the three virtues of the ideal team player.
• The distinct, surprising features of the three virtues and how to recognize those features. • How people behave when they possess only one or two of the virtues.
• Principles and tips for hiring, assessing and developing people according to the three virtues.
• Tips for embedding the virtues in your organization.

Developing a High-Performing Team That Delivers Results

Join us for our next Soundview Live webinar – tomorrow!

Date: Thursday, August 4
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Mario Moussa

Click here to register

In order to build a high-performing team that delivers results, a deceptively simple philosophy comes to mind: set a direction, try to stay on track, and make adjustments when necessary. Easy to do? Hardly–especially when the typical workday is time-crunched, stressful, and deadline-driven.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Developing a High-Performing Team that Delivers Results, Mario Moussa presents us with a how-to guide that offers the pragmatic advice you need to help you gain buy-in for shared objectives, assign roles to the right people, and establish norms for effective collaboration.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to align every member of your team behind a motivating vision
  • How to make team meetings efficient and productive
  • How to close the gap between stated goals and actual behaviors

Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance

CommittedTeamsCommitted Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance is based on a deceptively simple philosophy: set a direction, try to stay on track and make adjustments when necessary. Easy to do? Hardly –– especially when the typical workday is time-crunched, stressful and deadline-driven.

Drawing on research done at the Wharton School of Business, the authors reveal how to deliver results under these tough conditions. Committed Teams will help you gain buy-in for shared objectives, assign roles to the right people and establish norms for effective collaboration. Whether your team aims to execute a strategy, produce breakthrough innovations, collaborate across global boundaries or launch a new venture, this how-to guide offers the pragmatic advice you need. This game-changing book provides the tools for aligning every member of your team behind a motivating vision, making team meetings efficient and productive, and closing the gap between stated goals and actual behaviors.

If you want to be competitive in a demanding, fast-paced work environment, you need to rely on a high-performing team. Committed Teams is the indispensable resource for creating one.

• To establish goals, roles and norms in your organization.
• To adopt an observer’s mindset and solve problems.
• To bridge key gaps between saying and doing.
• To establish and strengthen culture in different types of teams –– even virtual teams and startups.

Guest Blog: Creating a Positively (or Negatively) Contagious Culture

Today’s Guest Blogger is author, Anese Cavanaugh. Anese discusses how we can “show up” and use the Super 7 to support our cultivation.

When we talk about creating culture, it’s easy to get sucked into an “outside-in” approach. “What will we do? What are the things we’ll put in place to create an awesome culture?” Free lunches, cool rooftops, foosball tables, karaoke night, field trips, trust building, organizational values roundtables, and other initiatives are all created with the best of intentions. Some of the initiatives are effective and inspiring; while others fall flat, feeling like something being “done to” people or a “box being checked”.

Regardless how many things we do to create an awesome culture, if we’re missing the fundamentals, we’ll only get so far.

We have to look at the being of culture… not just the doing.

In order to bring people along and have them feel invested and engaged, we have to ask questions like, “How do we want to show up? What will we stand for? Who will we have to be to cultivate and nourish the culture we want?” And then we want to invite each other into the conversation.

These questions give us a couple of great places to look.

First, who will YOU be as a leader? How will you show up in order to create the kind of culture you desire?

It all counts.

People often think that culture is up to “the other guy”, “the leadership team”, or the infamous “they”. While these “guys” all play a role in impacting culture, what’s even more accurate and powerful is that each person in an organization (or any system) creates the culture – we emanate the culture we want (or don’t want) to be a part of.

Who the leader is being creates culture, who you are creates the culture, the janitor, the CEO, and everyone else has their own unique stamp on culture creation. We can’t help it. We’re human. We create culture together simply by how we show up.

It starts with how we decide to show up everyday, how we regard others, how accountable we are for our actions, if we walk our talk, what we tolerate, how honest we are, our intentions, our energy, and our presence with others. We are our best bet at creating what we want. And we’re contagious. We set the tone.

This super power can be used for good or bad. Sincerely dig into this idea collaboratively as a team — or even better an organization – and you can create whatever culture you wish.

In addition to showing up, you want to consider what kind of structures, principles, and agreements you have in place to support you and your organization in creating the most healthy and positive container to grow that culture in.

In Contagious Culture I talk about 7 very useful components to consider when setting yourself up for success (or not) in creating a healthy culture. I call these the “Super 7 of Cultural Health”.

Without knowing too much about each of these, I’ll bet you can already start to assess which one’s you and your organization are strong in and which need some TLC.

The Super 7:

  1. Shared values, vision, and purpose
  2. The intention of contribution and service
  3. Safety to show up, speak the truth, and take risks
  4. Curiosity and vulnerability
  5. Accountability and ownership
  6. Reciprocity
  7. Conscious measurement and rewards

When you have these 7 humming (or at least sincerely in process) you build trust, amplify positive energy, and create an environment where people can show up authentically and powerfully at work. Ready? Go. Be. Do.


About the Author

Anese Cavanaugh is the author of Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization That Thrives. She’s also the creator of the IEP Method® (Intentional Energetic Presence®), a framework for helping people create positive impact.