A High Performing Management Team creates an environment (organization) where employees get the most out of themselves, achieve maximum growth and results. And more importantly: it leads to higher customer value and satisfaction and thus to a better operating result. This is not utopia, but possible with the right attention!
When we think about leadership and leadership by a team we need to be conscious that management principles that were valuable in the 20th century are no longer important today. Change and opportunities are challenging us at an ever-increasing speed.
The vast complexity of required solutions as well as the increased social and ecological challenges that will impact future generations, force us to look at organizations differently.
Most of us are familiar with the Agile Manifesto which consists of four sentences with the word “above” in the middle. The behavior on the right is good and necessary, the behavior on the left is better and leads to a high performing organization (and HPMT). Behavior on “the right” indicates you are a manager and behavior “on the left” puts you more in a leadership role.
Explanation of each line
Vulnerable & brave” over “Powerful & strong”
Which used to be sufficient: powerful and strong. Managers are still often judged on their decisiveness, ego and power and on the extent to which they achieve their results. Being the firefighter, making all decisions and being the field expert.
What we need now: An MT will really excel if their members dare to be Vulnerable & courageous. Leaders dare to be vulnerable in their MT and think it is cool when a colleague is better at something, or has more knowledge about something. They understand that the world has become too complicated to know enough about everything themselves, and they have the courage not to have an immediate opinion on subjects, or even to say that they do not know, and they are not afraid to ask an expert.
Common interest” over “individual performance
Which used to be sufficient: Individual performance. In a traditional MT, each manager has their own “club”, “unit” of responsibility. With it comes an accompanying budget and targets. The salary/bonus and personal recognition of such managers is directly linked to the performance of their individual department.
What we need now: Real energy is only created when the team aims for the Common Interest. If a management team starts to steer together, then colleagues within a team are able to prioritize the common interest. Joint coordination and optimization across the departments are a logical result.
“Why and what” over “How and when”
Which used to be sufficient: How and When. The manager is strongly involved in the work and determines how and when the work is done. The manager acts as the senior super expert who instructs and controls operationally. The manager is the touchstone for quality and is responsible for everything.
What we need now: Professionals really take ownership when the MT focuses on the Why and what. The Management Team continuously explains why the organizational unit exists, what it is aiming for, and related to this, what will be its outcome. This is best explained in meetings with limited number of participants, often 1-on-1, as well as in short conversations with teams.
“Questions & curiosity” over “Answers & Solutions”
Which used to be sufficient: Answers & Solutions. The manager as a specialist instigates speed; managers are expected to be solution-oriented and to have the answers to all questions asked (by everyone). As a single point of contact to solve all problems. There is a strong dependency and docility among the employees.
What we need now: employees become really involved as leaders through Questions and curiosity: Leaders in the Management Team have a questioning and investigative attitude. They ask open questions, and continue to seek clarification, in order to investigate and understand. In addition, they do not provide ready-made solutions or ideas, but look for the question behind the question and encourage employees to find the optimal implementation themselves.
“Don’t ask them to build a bridge, but to long to cross the river”
“Focus on customer and employee” over “Efficient internal organization”
Which used to be sufficient: Efficient internal organization where the manager is focused on organizing processes as efficiently as possible and deploying people and resources as efficiently as possible. Employees are resources whose use must be optimized to achieve cost minimization.
What we need now: You achieve much more (effectiveness) with Focus on customer and employee. Appreciation of customers and employees are the most important drivers. Leaders are primarily focused on supporting and facilitating the employee and effectively realizing customer value. Customer satisfaction is the touchstone for the effectiveness of the organization. In addition, it is a good opportunity to adjust.
“Transparent steering in the moment” over “Accountability afterwards”
Which used to be sufficient: Accountability afterwards. MTs are driven by the P&C cycle. New plans must be delivered and financing arranged for new initiatives. Follow milestones, steering groups, etc.
What we need now: Quick adjustments through Transparent steering in the moment. Leaders make adjustments in the shortest adjustment moment and therefore not afterwards (because then you are too late). Long-term goals are linked to short-term results. To this end, they set up a method together with the employees that provides maximum transparency based on actual data.
“Instigating maturity & autonomy” over “Manage & decide yourself”
Which used to be sufficient: Manage & decide yourself. The MT is clearly in control and does this with the help of extensive analyzes and proposals from employees. They themselves are the final touchstone or everything has been thought of.
What we need now: the MT is instigating maturity & autonomy by structurally increasing the responsibilities of teams. The MT has a clear picture of where the teams stand in terms of maturity. As leaders individually and MT jointly, they give employees autonomy in line with their maturity. The responsibilities given are always intended to provide employees with stretched challenges. The guard rails are lowered a little bit each time.
Make it happen!