Building change-ready teams

Think back on your career. How many teams have you been a part of that were really high performing? You’ll be lucky to have worked with three or four in a 20-year career.

YSC Consulting recently launched a new piece of research on how businesses can build high performing teams that will support company performance in the 21st Century. As the authors point out, the paradox today is that ‘leaders need to demonstrate even more interpersonal skills in an increasingly high tech world.’ 

Those businesses that have picked up on this (and it’s often startups as they are free to start from scratch) are innovating and growing at faster rates.

Here are YSC’s guiding principles for building modern teams:

  1. Teams must be built for change – They need to harness diverse skills and experience to solve unscripted problems.
  2. Teams need inclusive leadership – leadership should be looking to create conditions for collaboration in service of one common purpose. ‘Team psychological safety’ is a vital condition.
  3. Teams need to create healthy habits for connecting and collaborating – high engagement (habit of working with everyone in the team), with the maximum contribution from everyone, and a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative exchanges.

These principles and behaviours that promote agility resemble brains and networks, focusing on increasing the quantity and quality of contributions from all team members.

When YSC looked at hiring a team as a unit, rather than the best individual for a specific role, it identified different leadership orientations:

  • Visionary – inspiring leaders who spot opportunities and create possibilities, with a compelling direction (11% of all leaders)
  • Collaborator – inclusive leaders that are passionate about organisation and culture. They use their network to influence change (11%)
  • Pioneer – disruptive thinkers who will challenge the existing way of doing things (14%)
  • Architect – deep experts who design and direct delivery of the work (38%)
  • Implementer – over promoted functional experts (25%).

We need to consider how to set these teams up for success. For example, it’s a good idea to pair a pioneer with a collaborator to help navigate the system.

There are clear parallels with the challenges facing today’s school education system and how we need to be preparing our children for the current and future workplace.

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