The conditions that surround us today, and which will almost certainly continue well into the foreseeable future, demand something radically different from us. We need to focus on altering the way we think about and view the situation, if we want better and different commercial outputs. Mind has replaced machine as the primary engine of economic success. Such a change in approach and philosophy begins by first defining the attributes, skills and motivations of the people we choose to help us frame the context, solve the problems and seize the opportunities our organizations face.
Call them whatever you want, change agents, catalysts, reformers, provocateurs or deviants, at the end of the day, final victory and ultimate success will be determined by those people who have a decidedly different mindset than we are used to. We need people around us who approach problems in a creatively different manner. While that may make us uncomfortable, it is better than making ourselves irrelevant.
At the macro level, sustainable performance excellence depends on the willingness of the team to measure its effectiveness in a rigorous manner on a regular basis and with a focus on getting better, not just getting there. In other words, leaders need to understand and accept there are a set of well-known hurdles to cross and a continuing series of ever escalating levels of proficiency to master on the road to high performance team effectiveness. Over and over again, teams make the mistake of setting the bar too low, declaring victory too soon and not pushing hard enough to get through what author Seth Godin calls the “Dip.” This is a concept he explains in his book of the same name, which suggests that leaders need to take stock up front and be both willing and committed to paying the price of hard work and effort it takes to get through the tough times as a prerequisite to earning the right to success.
At the end of the day, the first thing to visibly deteriorate in an executive leadership team is accountability, both individual and collective. It often begins with a loss of trust and respect, but those are often well hidden or even invisible. When lack of accountability rears its ugly head, it typically triggers a decline in credibility, which almost inevitably leads to a relatively quick slide into turmoil, dysfunction and ineffectiveness. High-performance teams never shirk accountability; they tackle it to the ground and demand it of themselves and each other. They master conflict and are not paralyzed by tensions or dissension. They know how to overcome, bounce back and learn from setbacks. They commit to nothing less than achieving total mastery.