In the space of 20 years, the revenue of Brazilian company Semco grew from $4 million to over $160 million.
I think you’ll agree, these are truly outstanding results.
The rapid growth of the company was masterminded by Ricardo Semler, the son of the founder Antonio Semler. Ricardo Semler had a bold and radical management philosophy, one which continues to inspire analysis and commentary to this day.
Semler’s central theme, as outlined in his book Maverick, is that the key to productivity is to treat employees like responsible adults rather than like children who need constant guidance.
To this end, Semler rid Semco of irrelevant rules and regulations. He allowed his workers to have a say in their production quotas and draw up their own time schedules. His managers were given the freedom to determine business strategy and even set their own salaries.
For some companies, such an ethos would spell chaos and disaster.
But not for Semco.
The key distinction is this:
At Semco, Semler created a culture of shared purpose and values, a culture where everybody is focused on achieving collective results.
What do we mean by results?
Focusing on collective results is the fifth and final behavior of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.
So what do we mean by results?
There are many categories of results. Each company is different and each company will have a different focus. And results are not limited to financial measures. Important categories of results for a company could include revenue, expenses, new customer acquisition, employee engagement, market awareness and product quality.
But in every team, there is a potential conflict between how each member views results.
The question is, do they view results from an individual perspective or a collective perspective?
Individual results versus collective results
In dysfunctional teams, the drive to achieve individual results conflicts with the need to achieve collective results.
Sports fans will recognize the analogy of the gifted player who’s so focused on their own glory that they put the success of their team at risk. The same situation can arise in business teams.
In business teams, members may be so focused on meeting their own key performance indicators (KPIs) or individual goals, that they lose sight of the need to achieve collective results for the team. The team suffers as a consequence.
This tendency can be even more acute, and even more damaging, in company leaders. As Jeffrey Pfeffer notes in his book Leadership BS, there’s often a divergence in interests between individual leaders and the companies they lead. In a competitive environment, leaders may seek to maximise their chances of survival by acting selfishly and focusing primarily on their own careers.
You’ll want to avoid this situation. Therefore it’s imperative you truly know your team.
Analysing your team’s focus on results
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he emphasizes the importance of having the right people by comparing a company to a bus with the leader as the bus driver.
The leaders of great companies do not figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. Instead, they first get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus, and then figure out where to drive it.
The direction in which you want to take your team will change according to the circumstances. Having the right people on your team will allow you to pursue any direction you need to take at any time.
The DiSC model has four main profiles. Let’s examine how each profile fits into our aim of achieving collective results:
People strong in Dominance are driven by their need for achievement. They measure their progress by the results they achieve. So, yes, they are focused on results.
But they can have too narrow a focus on achieving their own personal goals. To be an effective team member they need to give equal importance to working with other team members on achieving collective goals.
People strong in Influence are driven by their need to be well regarded by other team members. Their motivation for achieving results comes from their need for appreciation, so they will focus on supporting the team’s goals to get recognition.
Because of their enthusiasm, optimism and energy, they are good at starting things, but they can lose interest and fail to follow through once the project is under way. They need to exercise some self-discipline and pay attention to the detail required to complete a project.
People strong in Steadiness are driven by their need for acceptance. Their steadfast support for others helps the team to achieve results, and they don’t want to let anyone down. So, of the four profiles, they are the most focused on achieving collective results.
They are also procedure oriented – good at establishing and following systems and procedures – so they are a strong asset to the team when achieving collective goals.
People strong in Conscientiousness are driven by their concern for accuracy and high standards. They enjoy the problem solving required to achieve results, and once a commitment has been made they will follow through and deliver.
They can have a tendency to want to work on things on their own, so they may need to pay more attention to working with other team members.
Making a team more results focused
In a study of 60,000 leaders reported in Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman found that the leaders who were ranked in the 91st percentile were also rated in the top quartile for both driving results and people skills.
Leaders able to both drive results and excel at people skills were found to be very rare. Only 13% of leaders in the study fitted this profile.
To make your team more results-focused, strong leadership is required. But leadership focused solely on driving results is not enough. To succeed at the highest level, leadership must also build and inspire a team which is engaged and fulfilling for all members.
So what does this kind of leadership look like?
In Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player, he offers some suggestions about how to lead and nurture a team that’s focused on collective results. Or as he puts it, a team that is hungry.
Clear Expectations: Leaders need to set clear expectations for team members and hold them accountable for those expectations. It’s important to set expectations for both performance and behaviors. This means that a team member might be expected not only to meet a certain production target, but also to help their fellow team members to achieve their goals.
- Regular Feedback: Leaders must be willing to call out team members when their performance or behaviors need to change. Leaving it until the annual performance review is going to be too late. Team members need immediate and unambiguous feedback to keep them on the right track. Leaders must be able to give feedback in a constructive and empathetic manner.
- Encouragement: Leaders must be able to encourage their team members. This may sound obvious but it’s often overlooked. When a team member performs well and works with other members to drive collective results, they must be praised both by their leaders and fellow team members. This should be done on a regular basis to reinforce team spirit.
Knowing how to lead is important for achieving results. But even more important are the intangibles which generate dedication and passion within each team member. These intangibles are what drives a company to succeed at the highest level.
We can call these intangibles purpose and values.
The power of purpose and values in driving results
In Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’s book Built to Last, they identify eighteen visionary companies that have achieved phenomenal results compared to their peers. Their selected companies include world-beating brands such as American Express, Boeing, General Electric, IBM, Marriott, Procter & Gamble and Sony.
The authors show that a primary and distinguishing attribute of each visionary company is that each has established a core ideology.
Collins and Porras break down this core ideology into two components:
- Purpose: “The organization’s fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making money—a perpetual star on the horizon; not to be confused with specific goals or business strategies.”
- Values: “The organization’s essential and enduring tenets—a small set of general guiding principles; not to be confused with specific cultural or operating practices; not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.”
Let’s examine each one in turn:
Disney’s stated purpose is: “To use our imagination to bring happiness to millions.”
I saw the power of this during a family trip to the United States many years ago. We took our then five-year-old daughter Melissa to Disney World in Florida. Our daughter was eager to see the famous Disney parade in the Magic Kingdom.
As we were waiting on Main Street for the parade to start, a young man in overalls, obviously working for Disney, passed us. He was clearing the street of rubbish with a pan and brush. As he saw our daughter, he crouched down and started to entertain her. Our daughter was soon laughing and having a great time, so much so that a crowd of people gathered to watch and enjoy the spectacle.
He was using his imagination to bring happiness to a little five-year-old girl.
Great teams have a purpose statement that inspires each member to perform with passion and commitment. It should clearly explain why the team exists and how it is working to make the world a better place.
When team members are driven by purpose, they are focused on doing whatever needs to be done to achieve that purpose. Their perspective is so much broader than a mere set of procedures to follow or a series of tasks to perform. And the results they achieve will be so much more impressive.
Alice was a production-line worker for a company I was working with. The company provided specialized packaging for other businesses including one of Australia’s major airlines.
Alice worked on a line packaging Tazos, which are small tokens inserted in a packet of chips for children to collect. One day, she noticed that a batch of Tazos had blurred printing. She thought that her children wouldn’t be happy to receive a blurred Tazo, so she decided to report this.
A year earlier, the company and its employees had held a meeting during which they agreed on the following value statement: “We care about the quality of the products we produce.”
Alice was at this meeting. She took the value statement to heart, and she really did care about the quality of what came off the company production line.
So when her supervisor and then her manager told her not to worry about the blurry printing, she went straight to the CEO. The CEO thanked Alice for her courage in approaching him and for her concern for the quality of their products, and the company’s values. He asked her to speak up again should she have any concerns in future.
When team members are committed to a set of core values, you no longer need to control them. You can trust them to do the right thing and to ask if they need clarification.
And theywill get you results.
The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team solution
At Intégro, we offer a corporate training and assessment-driven solution that includes the nurturing of focus on collective results.
Our solution is The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™.
The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is based on the approach outlined in Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and is powered by Everything DiSC® personal development assessment technology.
The objective of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is to develop the kind of teamwork which will foster a competitive advantage.
The five behaviors required to gain this competitive advantage are for team members to:
- Trust one another
- Engage in conflict around ideas
- Commit to decisions
- Hold one another accountable
- Focus on achieving collective results
The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team approach has a proven track record and has been successfully used by leading companies across different industries including Microsoft, Lee Memorial Health Systems, and Harris Farm Markets.
Want to learn more about how to earn the trust of your team and increase your bottom line? Click Here.
Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team are trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Keith Ayers- March 2018