Archive for January, 2013

The Immutable Seven

Throughout my career, I have worked with a number of management teams that are “mostly aligned,” “almost there,” or just downright dysfunctional. After giving considerable thought to what should be at the core of a company to achieve success, I have authored what is on my heart: the Immutable Seven Laws of Team.

I reflected on the kind of business I would want to lead through the challenges of market realities, the opportunities those bring and what it would take to do so. I reflected on the leaders I have admired and the leadership styles I have despised. I thought about the losses but, more importantly, the victories I experienced alongside great individual contributions that were inspired by unselfish teamwork.

In my experience, these Seven Laws are absolute – they are the distinct pillars that leadership must aspire to ultimately realize the success only achieved through teamwork. I hope these will provoke you to inspire others, because leadership takes effort. The “Immutable Seven” taps directly into the aspirations of others and holds leadership accountable to their example while instilling a common ground of commitment, trust and perspective. I humbly submit the “Immutable Seven” to you, not just as one who has led, but as someone willing and wanting to work alongside people who seek to build something special.

The Immutable Seven Laws of Team

  1. Accountability must exist – to one another, and our clients. There are no departments. There are people, co-workers and stakeholders. – Use names when talking about deliverables, unmet expectations or hand-offs. We win and lose together. Commit to integrity. Be slow to send “scorched-earth” emails. Do not falsely accuse, over-react or be paranoid about the motives of your fellow team members. Be willing to raise your hand and say: “My bad.” Expect it of each other.
  2. Do what you say you are going to do and when you say you are going to do it. Get beyond yourself and think: team loyalty. Let our word be our bond, and let that be the measure of the company we keep. Meet the deadlines. Say when you need help. Over-deliver a great customer experience. Be responsive internally as well as externally. Do it or die trying. Above all else – over communicate.
  3. Relax. Stars play sloppy when they get nervous, over-think the game or become distracted by the pressure of the odds. Keep our laundry in our washroom. Throwing a team member or the business under the bus reflects on you too. Practice passing as much as shooting (translation: assists count on the stat sheet too!). You are all stars, play like it.
  4. Move. Shoot. Communicate. Be decisive in your actions. The battle is external. Set your sights on the mission, the deliverables and the bogies on the radar. Internal battles only get people killed from friendly fire. Think through it and do it. Tell your team members your victories and your shortcomings. Give your input without fear of reprisal. Trust leadership is constantly listening, evaluating the team, the performance and the theatre of battle.
  5. Know your business. Be the thought leader and expert. If you aren’t yet, know who is, befriend them and call upon them frequently. Read – and read more. Surround yourself with confidants, advisors and speed-dial resources. Ego of knowledge has shorted the value of many great business men and women. Understand the costs, risks and revenues of the business to the degree you can contribute to the future success. Vocalize your willingness to share as much as learn.
  6. Business is war. There are losers and there are winners. Don’t be afraid of the blood, but don’t go to battle un-prepared. Never push a bad position. Each step has consequences – some unintended. Own the responsibility of that fact with each decision you make. Small penalties add up and minor set-backs destroy momentum. Aspire to flawless execution.
  7. Help us look beyond the now. We must evolve the business, and those ideas come from each of us. Innovate, automate and create the next phase of our business. Put your ideas on paper – if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Be passionate about where we are going and share your way of getting there. Trust that collaboration is a byproduct of commitment to team victory over individual accomplishment. Recognition can only exist with exceptional performance.

Take the time to reflect on these “laws.” Leadership is about setting the tone for the company as team members engage each other, and those with whom you will do business. The next step is looking around the room into the eyes of the team with whom you share these “Immutable Seven.” Look deep and ask for assurance. It is only through commitment that you will find mutual respect, fond admiration for each other’s unique talents and the ultimate drive to succeed.