Some top management teams and leadership teams are created by the Internal Organization Chart Robot Officer, that is, they are composed by whoever is below the boss and happens to be at that time in that place. I have called this ‘The Accidental Management Team’. And, guess what, many stay like that. No evolution. But evolution is possible.
In my consulting work I have a model of progression that starts as ‘Accidental Management Team’ and ends in ‘Collective Leadership’, with a few steps in between. I ask my clients to spot themselves in the GPS point of the evolution and then decide if they find it cosy, or are restless, or how far they want to go.
I remember my early surprise years ago when I developed the model and many ‘management teams’ did not really want to progress that much and were happy to remain as ‘accidental’.
But in the progression to higher levels of complexity and possibilities (I don’t use the term ‘high performance team’ because the team is not an engine that can be described in terms of horse power), there is a tipping point, very often not reached. This is the point when the members of the team do not see themselves as representing their own functions or business (Finance, HR, Country A, R&D…) into the company, but they see themselves as representing the company into their functions, or business, or areas.
The arrow is inverted. I am not the Head of R&D representing ‘the interests of R&D’ ( what I call an ambassadorial model) – arrow points North – but I am the Head of R&D representing the interests of the company into R&D- the arrow points South. It is 180 degrees shift in thinking and behaving.
I always have the expected ‘well, it’s both’. But this is a trap. We always seem to need a compromise in the thinking, the half a way, the ‘its both ways anyway’. Well, I have bad news, it isn’t. It’s one or the other.
That is the real tipping point in the complexity and possibilities of a leadership team. The arrow is inverted. It now goes South.
Not many teams reach that tipping point, but, when they do, the leadership practice and potential has exponentially grown.
So, the question behind is: who do you (think you) represent in this management/leadership team? How you answer, defines your GPS point in the evolution towards higher levels of sophistication.
It’s the direction of the arrow.