Ready, Set, Transform!

by Melissa Banuchi on January 13, 2010

Part 1 – Synchronized Swimming

Whether you are welcoming a new leader or strategic partner, implementing cutting-edge technology, or a different organizational structure, taking your company in a new direction, or adding a new product or service, transformations can be arduous. Please join me over the next few weeks to discuss what leaders should put/have in place in order to avoid the regrets that Robert H. Miles shared in his article, Accelerating Corporate Transformations (Don’t Lose Your Nerve!) appearing in this month’s Harvard Business Review.

When leaders looked back at their corporate transformations, Miles states:

“They wish they had unified the leadership team right away. They wish they had engaged employees sooner and quickly drummed up support for the new vision. They wish they hadn’t waited so long to test their assumptions and refine their key initiatives. And they wish they had generated some visible returns early on, to accelerate the commitments and reinforce the expectations of employees, customers, suppliers, and investors.”

Unify Your Leadership Team

Honestly, I am bewildered by leaders who dive in the deep end of planning and executing their corporate strategy with complete disregard as to whether or not their team can ‘swim’. For synchronized swimming, like strategy creation and implementation, demands advanced (water) skills, and requires great strength (of character), endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional (breath) control when upside down underwater. Trust me, you want the members of your team to demonstrate exceptional control if you find yourselves upside down underwater!

Some leaders wrongly assume that their team is healthy because it is comprised of seasoned, accomplished, senior executives. These leaders believe that each of their team members came equipped with the right information and attitude and share an interest in and willingness to learn, explore and create together. They also believe that all of their leaders will easily set aside their department’s needs in order to do what is best for the business and will leave the meeting speaking and acting in a manner that supports the newly agreed upon direction and priorities of the company. For ego-ruling or apathetic leaders, the foundation, working relationship and well-being of their team is simply not considered.

They Are Looking To You To Do So

Unfortunately on more than one occasion years ago, while working with individual leadership teams to design their strategic direction and objectives, I was pulled aside during breaks, even approached in the ladies room by participants who NEEDED to share their concerns with me. These stealthy informants would whisper a similar alarming message in my ear, “This will never work. We’ll never make these things happen”. Upon further discussion they would share that their team was dysfunctional, toxic, protective, and/or fragmented. I would hear about the team’s lack of a strong leader or foundation, the absence of trust, respect, unity and follow-through. This coupled with tales of poor communication, favoritism, no accountability and uncertain job responsibilities/reporting structures made my head spin. It also made me aware of the need to assess and increase a leadership team’s ability to swim before we dove in the deep end together. No drowning on my watch – please!

Taking the time to complete a team-synthesizing program will empower your team with the facts and foundation necessary for optimal proficiency. Providing team members with something as simple as a proper introduction to each other, so that they can come to know and trust their fellow team members, will enable and motivate them to create, communicate and successfully implement a strategy that is ‘best for the business’. That’s not just swimming, that’s synchronized swimming! To learn more about Optimity’s Teams That Excel™ program, click here.

Don’t miss next week! Part 2 – The Drumline

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