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“Despite society’s emphasis on individuality, the critical work of business today is undertaken by teams, whether real or virtual. The success of organizations can be closely linked to how well these teams of diverse individuals perform, and it is clear that some teams truly do excel. Based on
studies from extensive consulting engagements by the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) over a decade, several key elements have been identified as critical in high-performance organizations. These elements constitute the SCORE™ framework for high-performing teams”
– Sattar Bawany, Author, Leadership In Disruptive Times (Business Expert Press, 2020)
High-performing c-suite executive teams have become a principal building block of the successful strategy of any leading organization in diverse industries. Although teams are at the core of any change initiative, success will often depend on how well each team member operates and collaborates with others. Today’s highly disruptive and digital-driven business environment, not only provides a challenging environment for c-suite leaders to operate in but would need to depend on their respective teams, which are critically important to getting work done. Yet not all teams are created equal.
Some fail to perform or perform below expectations. Some start well but later lose their focus and energy. Teams are extremely valuable if they are working well. They are very costly if they are not. Disruptive digital leaders must find ways to ensure their teams are working effectively and are achieving their results. In most teams, the energies of individual members work at cross-purposes. Individuals may work extraordinarily hard, but if their efforts do not translate into a team effort, this would result in wasted energy. By contrast, when a team becomes more aligned, a commonality of direction emerges, and individual energies harmonize. You have a shared vision and an understanding of how to complement each other’s efforts. As jazz musicians say, “You are in the groove.”
A team can have everything going for it—the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources, a clear mission—but still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence. Moreover, managers need to develop the self-awareness and interpersonal skills associated with a high level of emotional intelligence, as do teams. One way for leaders to help their teams build this capability is to understand and ensure that their teams move successfully through the stages of small-group development: membership, control, and cohesion. These stages are experienced by all teams. If teams are not well led and facilitated through them, their chances of achieving their results are
The SCORE™ Framework for Developing High-Performing Teams
A high-performing team demonstrates a high level of synergism—the simultaneous actions of separate entities that together have a greater effect than the sum of their efforts. It is possible, for example, for a team’s efforts to exemplify an equation such as 2 + 2 = 5! High-performing teams require a complementary set of characteristics known collectively as “SCORE™”—cohesive strategy, clear roles and responsibilities, open communication, rapid response, and effective leadership—as outlined in Figure 1 below
High-performing c-suite executive teams require a complementary set of characteristics known collectively as ‘S.C.O.R.E.™’
S: Cohesive Team Strategy: High-performing teams with a cohesive strategy will demonstrate why they are in existence by articulating a strong, uniting purpose that is common to all team members. They will describe how they work together by defining team values and ground rules, also known as a team charter, which will guide the team actions. Finally, they will be clear
about what they do by defining key result areas (KRAs) and performance standards.
C: Clear Roles and Responsibilities – Successful teams determine overall team competencies and then clearly define individual member roles and responsibilities. Highperforming teams realistically examine each individual’s responsibilities in terms of personality, interest, and ability, resulting in an accurate understanding of each member’s accountability and
contribution to the team.
O: Open Communication: Developing an open communication and trust-based partnership is the key component in facilitating successful team performance; its lack limits team success. Effective communication includes flexing and adapting one’s style of communication to suit the other team members. Also, a cohesive culture is attained when interpersonal interactions flow smoothly and individual differences are also respected and leveraged to enhance overall team functioning.
R: Rapid Decision Making – A high-performing team needs to be adaptable and respond quickly, as necessary, to changes in the environment, by shifting their mental models with creativity and “outside the box” thinking. When faced with a problem, these teams brainstorm possible solutions and create innovative resolutions leveraging disruptive leadership competencies,
including agility, adaptability, cognitive readiness, and critical thinking skills.
E: Exemplary Leadership – An effective team leader can adjust his or her leadership style, leveraging on the “Results-based Leadership” (RBL) Framework as necessary, depending on the task at hand and the skill level of each team member performing that task. The team leader also demonstrates effective emotional and social intelligence competencies, including empathy and relationship management/social skills, as well as plays a critical role in raising morale by having coaching conversations with team members (leveraging on the GROW Model) and providing developmental feedback to improve individual and team performance. Finally, the team leader takes an active role in guiding the team through each stage of team development by using team-building activities and celebrating the success of early wins.
Team Coaching is the Key to Success
In high-performing teams, leadership shifts during the stages of team development based on team needs. Unlike organizational leadership, which remains somewhat constant, team leadership can shift from very directing, when the team is being formed, to more delegating, when the team is functioning effectively. When the c-suite leader has assessed their team’s current performance level and needs, they will be ready to move on to building their dream team in whatever SCORE™ dimension they choose to begin.
Once the diagnosis using the SCORE™ High Performing Team Assessment has been made, the necessary measures are generally straightforward and easily identified by the team in facilitated group discussions in the form of Team Coaching. The CEO along with the Board members participated with the c-suite team in a two-day Disruptive Leadership 4.0 Masterclass on “Leading & Engaging a High Performing Teams”, as a result of which an action plan was developed to set the team on the right path. The strategy was significantly clearer in terms of line of sight, more proactive internal communication on strategy by the CEO, supplemented by a regular group review in this area involving the whole executive team facilitated by an external Executive Coach.
The SCORE™ Framework illustrates how organizations can gain insights into the dynamics of c-suite executive teams, laying the foundations for improving team effectiveness in a targeted way in line with the organization’s strategic goals. Each team member receives useful feedback about their role in the group and learns about their strengths and areas where improvements can be made. Also, TERs are not solely designed for executive teams: Any team that shares a common goal can benefit from this resource.
Finally, the SCORE™ Assessment gives the CEO and the c-suite team leader a detailed insight into his or her leadership style and how profoundly this influences the group’s dynamism and performance. The team leader perhaps stands to learn the most – about their team and themselves. Because this, too, is something we have learned from experience: Liken the coach in a football
team, the team leader is the most powerful driving force on the road to greater effectiveness – which comes as no surprise to the football fans among us.