(In this series of posts offering excerpts from the book, 'The Wisdom of Teams' by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith (Harvard Business School Press), the excerpts are in bold.)
for example, do demand a merging of individual accountability with mutual
accountability. Teams also do. require lots of time together; indeed, it is
folly to assume that teams can perform without investing time to shape and
agree upon a common purpose, set of goals, and working approach. Moreover, few
groups become real teams without taking risks to overcome constraints imposed
by individual, functional, and hierarchical boundaries. And team members do
depend on one another in pursuit of common performance.
man, including Greenwood, earned his spot on the team every day. None relied on
his formal designation or job title. Their roles were a function of their basic
skills relative to team needs at the time."
The "CorporateTheatre" methodology clearly defines and consistently emphasizes the critical importance of a common goal and a collective success that converts a group of people into a team. Towards achieving this goal, a team is composed of individuals and functions who bring in complementary competencies and perspectives. While the nature and levels of competencies can and should vary, the commitment across individuals and functions must remain the same. Any individual or function that does not have total clarity about the goal, and total commitment towards achieving that goal, can be a distraction and energy drainer for the entire team.
In a 'natural' team, the function of designated hierarchy is to:
- define the goal (or destination)
- define the parameters of the collective success
- define the rewards
- define how individual contribution towards attaining that goal will be appraised and rewarded (in a way that DOES NOT CREATE COMPETITION WITHIN THE TEAM, and instead facilitates collaboration. while this may sound idealistic, this is practically explored during the course of the workshop.)
Obviously it is important to involve the team in this process of defining goals and parameters to the extent possible. The more the team members experience themselves as part of defining the above criteria, the more ownership they will take of the destination, as well as the journey.
Once this has been done, the designated leader becomes part of the team. As the journey towards the destination starts, the designated leader steps back and whoever in the team has the maximum clarity on any particular part of the journey takes on responsibility for leadership, irrespective of seniority or designation. The designated leader and the entire team empowers that leadership.
In that sense, on the journey, hierarchy is purely situational. As mentioned elsewhere in the blog, once the journey starts, the team becomes the leader and the designated leader becomes the enabler of leadership.