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Booked review: Leading Teams: 10 Challenges, 10 Solutions
Two experts examine the benefits of sharing power and working with teams
Mandy Flint , Elisabet Vinberg Hearn
Teamwork is important in organisations but is often badly practised, as this book by two experts in the field notes.
The top reasons for this, they suggest, are the fact that some people just want to get on with their job and don’t see the relevance of sharing, some organisations don’t encourage it, personality differences exist, negative first impressions have been formed and can’t be overcome and egos get in the way of people connecting with one another.
Cliques and sub-groups are common in teams but they do nothing for proper teamwork. It’s often easier for people to find allegiances in one or two people than in a whole team.
The consequences of this lack of proper teamwork can be significant. When people don’t know or trust each other, it leads to a hesitance or unwillingness to work together, which makes it hard to perform even the simplest of tasks, the authors argue.
“Argue” may be the operative word as while this is a useful book, the authors labour the point about the importance of building strong interpersonal bonds.
It’s not for everyone and some more reserved executives clearly work best on their own terms while being more than willing to cooperate with colleagues where necessary.
However, they may actually resent over-enthusiastic attempts to enforce a happy, share-all culture.
The checklist of informal opportunities to bond includes office breakfasts, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners, sports and social activities and something called “huddles” with no explanation of what it means.
That aside, there are some useful tips here in a format that makes extensive use of the case study approach and a handy final chapter with bullet points summarising the key learning points from the book.
Among the more interesting observations here is that individuals should be made aware that sharing of power is not a way of weakening their position but actually strengthening it.
In a world in which information goes out of date very quickly, the notion of hanging on to it as a way of retaining power is now largely obsolete.
Sharing provides a means of keeping up to date with information. It can also lead to a reduction in the risk of publication, which can free up resources within an organisation.
Where there is resistance to this notion, a good starting point for a manager who wants to encourage it is to “role model” this behaviour themselves. Share what you know, what you have experienced and what you have learnt and then ask people to do the same is the advice here.
This is helped if you can demonstrate tangible benefits that flowed from sharing and the downside when it didn’t.
The authors suggest creating specific sessions for this, in what they call Pods or power of dynamic sharing. Examples of this could include sessions on how to retain customers or talent where participants are invited to come prepared with examples of what has and has not worked for them.
Getting individuals to see the link between themselves and the bigger picture is also important.
The following questions are useful: how does the work you do contribute to the purpose of the organisation? Who is dependent on your work? Who are you dependent on to deliver?
Being upfront about the process of sharing is crucial. Give public praise when it happens and be as specific as possible about cause and effect. Ideally, you should find cases where important goals have been realised, such as increases in customer satisfaction levels or productivity enhancements that can be directly related to the bottom line profitability of the organisation.
The value of transparency is a key theme running through the book. Transparency is quickly becoming the norm in business and expectations are growing, the authors note.
Even if you think you have a reasonable level of openness in your organisation, you need to strive for more.