Questions that keep me up at night:
What are the business practices that encourage enterprises to grow?
How/can we breakdown bureaucracies – where the people exist to serve the system / their manager, not the customer?
Is more growth always better?
In today’s webinar at the Starting Good Virtual Summit, Kari Enge, founder of Rank&File Magazine told us a salutary tale about how a focus on dollars and efficiency can kill a people-focused culture in less than six months. To avoid this, she says it’s crucial at an early stage for entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs, “to decide their leadership philosophy … and imagine their perfect culture”.
So who is already doing this well?
We have good role models in a number of tech enterprises. Google used its data analytics power in Project Aristotle to find out what makes a successful team and concludes that psychological safety as well as purposeful work, are two of the five success factors keys. The CEO of Menlo Innovations and author of Joy Inc. says his mission is to “emancipate the heart of the engineers…which is to serve others. He thinks that there is a limit to the size of a business if it wants to bring joy to its customers. And home-grown enterprises such as Atlassian, tell us that healthy teams embrace continuous improvement. They also say the dirty secret is that team work is ‘very’ hard and tools are not the ‘fix-it’. They contribute their team playbook to the world, because they know it will be ‘very’ hard to emulate, especially for competitors who have an ‘efficiency and dollars must prevail’ philosophy.
We need even more examples of those who are doing good for customers as well as for employees and especially those in the social sphere.
Whom do you admire? What are they doing differently from the ‘norm’? Where can we find them and highlight the good practices they have developed?
I love Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk about superchickens! It reinforces the Belbin research from many years ago showing that a super team of people who are working for the good of the team result will outperform a team of super stars who are working for their own good.
As someone who – I confess – has wanted to be the superchicken in the team on occasions (my idea is the best idea), this is a timely reminder that we look great when we help each other do great work together. Celebrating together is much more satisfying than celebrating alone!
More new research on teams and how teams deal best with diversity, direct from INSEAD.
“Kleinâ€™s research focuses on leadership of groups which consist of people with diverse core, fundamental values â€“ groups where conflict is likely and it is difficult for the team to focus on a common goal. Klein specifically studied teams with diversity in work ethic- with some members who were hard-working, driven and internally motivated to accomplishing the task at hand, and other members who were more relaxed and not so motivated; as well as teams that varied in terms of respect for authority and traditional values.
What Klein found is that task-oriented leaders â€“ those that focus the group on the task by assigning roles and deadlines, and providing a lot of structure to the team â€“ can effectively lead values-diverse teams to perform well. â€œIf a leader doesnâ€™t provide structure, then you have trouble.â€
Less successful in leading values-diverse teams are relationship-oriented leaders, who tend to be warm and caring toward individual team members. â€œYou can imagine that that would be really helpful. Everybody would feel heard, everybody would feel included â€¦ What we find (though) is that it backfires. So when you have a leader thatâ€™s very warm, very considerate, and you have a very diverse group in terms of these values, it tends to exacerbate conflict.â€